Our writer on the dining scene finally gets a table at Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille in Ocean Isle Beach, and all he can say is “Wow!”

Photo by Christopher Kealii Surigao

I suppose the seventh time’s the charm? On at least six occasions over the past six months, the missus and I tried to visit Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille in Ocean Isle Beach but were thwarted for one reason or another.

The first time, we arrived only to find that it was closed for renovations (more on that subject later). Another time, we had reservations with friends, but a looming, massive storm (not named Dorian) with possible tornadoes short-circuited that. And on four occasions, there wasn’t a parking space to be had in the restaurant lot.

So we were both surprised and elated to find a real-live spot at dinnertime after returning from a 100-mile motorcycle ride to support a local Humane Society cause.

We opted to sit inside the dining area, and its white decor and spacious, clean appearance was appealing. I had been advised by a lovely hostess named Jessica that I just HAD to try the Grilled Watermelon appetizer. Jessica was 27 weeks pregnant, and it crossed my mind that her suggestion may have been just a “craving,” but after a friendly, efficient server named Hayden came to take our order, I took her advice.

And I was mighty glad I did. Very simple, quite unique and exceptionally good, this dish, seasoned with BBQ spice, sea salt, lime and scallions, was a solid winner. At Hayden’s suggestion, the missus opted for Crispy Brussels, flash-fried brussel’s sprouts leaves topped with smoked peanuts, hot honey and cured onion flowers. She couldn’t stop raving about it, and considering that both appetizers together came to just $12, we found them to be a great value.

I opted for another appetizer as my main course — again at Hayden’s suggestion — and the Garlic Shrimp dish with (ten!) N.C. shrimp steamed in Lillet Blanc, garlic and butter and served with a garlic baguette can be described in just one word: Wow! I almost wished I had room enough to ask for another garlic baguette to sop up that incredible broth mixture, but I didn’t.

The missus ordered a Crab Burger, a sautéed, house-made crab cake with Creole remoulade, house pickles and iceberg, served with Jinks slaw. Composed of 95% blue crab meat, it was another solid winner, and in order to finish it, the missus had to leave some of the bread behind.

Jinks Creek has a full menu of good beers and fine wines for those of you whose tastes lean in those directions. Had I not been on two wheels, I’d have ordered a crisp, clean Pilsner or something similar to go with my Garlic Shrimp. Jinks Creek also has an upstairs deck for dining, mingling, drinking and watching the incredible sunsets with a spectacular view.

And you never know which celebrities the camera will capture up on that deck either. If Lowell Pucket and Eric Sutton of Makai Brewing fame are in the house, it’s because they know something.

But what you need to know is that Jinks Creek will be closing sometime in mid to late October for more renovations. Jammie Harris, the GM, shared that the minuscule kitchen that tries mightily — and sometimes struggles — to feed the patrons on three floors needs revamping. The original kitchen was designed to feed two small dining rooms, and Jinks Creek has increased exponentially in size and popularity since it was built.

Still, if our visit was any indication, whatever cramped, chaotic wizardry takes place in that space is working fine, thank you. That it can only get better for next season — sometime in April, according to Jammie — is worth looking forward to.

We’ll surely be back, and by that time, Jessica’s mom-to-be cravings will likely be over, though the smart money says she’ll continue to (wisely) recommend that Grilled Watermelon.

Now if we can only find another parking space….

Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille, 14 Causeway Drive, Ocean Isle Beach; (910) 579-9997; jinkscreek.com

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