Hours: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday. Atmosphere: Rustic and nautical. Seafood, steak and chops menu. Price range: Seafood appetizers, $1.95 to $8.50; dinners from $8.95 for fried oysters to $24.95 for a seafood bonanza; children's selections $2.50.Reservations: Suggested on weekends. Credit Cards: All major. No personal checks accepted. Special Facilities: Lobsters to go; parking lot. Patrons in wheelchairs have to negotiate one step up at an inside door. Booster chairs and high chairs available.
Village Inn in Woodbridge is primarily a seafood restaurant. The first thing that confronts the customer inside the unpretentious white brick building is a tank full of lobsters. You can have one for dinner.
If you aren't a fish lover, the restaurant also offers a surprisingly large selection of options.
In fact, the selections are so varied -- for seafood or other offerings -- that it is mind-boggling. There is seafood tempura-style, Norfolk-style, fried, broiled, stuffed or in combination platters. If you hanker for steaks, chops or shish kebob, you can get those, too. You can even order steak and seafood together, as in "reef and beef," which is shrimp and steak. There's also "surf and turf." And for $44.95, two people can gorge on lobster tails, scallops, crab, shrimp, filet mignon and assorted vegetables.
Therein lies part of the problem at the Village Inn.
In trying to cater to all sorts of tastes, the restaurant overreaches, something that shoudn't happen at the prices it asks. Our family found some of the dishes we tried both expensive and disappointing.
To start our dinner, we were brought two baskets of crackers and a small bowl of cheddar cheese spread. The waitress left us to linger over drinks, giving the children more than ample time to inspect several aquariums placed around the dining room.
Although the appetizers -- from steamed clams to fried squid -- sounded good, we passed them by since the dinners came with soup, two vegetables and "All the salad you can eat."
Salad was a bowl of mixed greens, with a nice addition of chick peas and beets. We didn't request more. Nor was it offered.
We did ask about a children's menu. Our waitress listed crab cakes, fried chicken or hamburger for $2.50. Our 6-year-old tried the hamburger, which turned out to be a thin, overcooked patty on toast. The thin french fries accompanying it were very good, however.
The dinners started with soup, a choice between New England clam chowder or crab the evening we were there.
The creamy choweder, served in a small cup, was delicious, its stock thick with potatoes and clams. In contrast, the crab soup consisted mostly of vegetables afloat in a thin, very spicy broth.
Of the entrees we tried, rainbow trout was best. My husband had it in the Village Inn Special, $10.95, which combined trout an New York strip steak. The fresh, whole trout was unembellished so that its flavor came through, but it would have been better served alone, since the fish and steak juices tended to mingle unpleasantly on the platter.
I ordered broiled, stuffed flounder, $8.95. The fish was nicely moist and topped with fresh, sweet crabmeat, but the breaded stuffing was mushy.
Our 10-year-old, who has a grown-up appetite, decided on shrimp Norfolk, $12.95, and easily polished off the six large shrimp in their tasty garlic butter sauce.
Vegetable choices were corn-on-the-cob, tired cole slaw, green beans and baked potato.
After so much food, we couldn't handle dessert, even tempting walnut cake or strawberry shortcake, each $1.25.
The tab for the four of us was $44.32. That included beer, refills, of soft drinks, tax and tip.