Written by: Shelley Marsh

Marlin Moon Grille opened on February 27, the latest resident of 1183 Beach Boulevard. Before this location became famous locally as the former home of Tacolu, it was the Bermuda Triangle of restaurants.  A quick internet search reveals at least ten no-longer-businesses have resided here: Cafe Sonoma, Danny’s at the Beach…and many more that have faded from memory before one finally took off.

The question is, will the good juju left behind by Tacolu spell success for this newest restaurant in Jacksonville Beach?

Marlin Moon Grille is a restaurant originating in Ocean City, Maryland. They have given the building a new bright blue paint job:  I believe the color is “Mimi’s Blue Eyeshadow.”  A peek inside reveals changes within as well.  The walls are a tropical pink, with crisp white wainscoting.  The tables are also crisp and white, with neatly pressed tablecloths and nautical blue napkin rolls. Mounted sport fish line the walls, watching placidly as you consume their relatives.

Browse the drink menu and you will notice something unfamiliar: a wide variety of orange crush drinks top the offerings.  Apparently, orange crush has a fanatical following in the Maryland and Virginia coastal region.

In fact, Virginia Beach hosts a “CrushFest” every year in honor of the alcoholic beverage.  The standard orange crush is made from freshly squeezed orange juice, triple sec and vodka.  Marlin Moon Grille offers many variations on the theme. Perhaps the Eastern Shore favorite will take off on the First Coast as well.

The menu has local seafood like Mayport shrimp as well as Maryland-style offerings. We started with a local beer, Duke’s, on tap, and a bubbling hot dish of crab dip served with a warm, crisp baguette.  Our entrees arrived a bit too quickly to finish the delicious appetizer.  My date ordered the triggerfish special stuffed with crabmeat.  The portion size was ample, and included a side of mashed potatoes and green beans.

I ordered the crab cake, assuming that a restaurant from Maryland would do it right.  The crab cakes are the size of baseballs, and contain fairly large chunks of crab with very little filler, served with a surprising fruity aioli. They were good, but not the best I’ve ever had.  However, I’m from Maryland too: unless my grandma was back there in the kitchen, I was bound to be disappointed.  Prices were very fair.  The triggerfish special was only $18, and 2 crab cakes are $20.

So far, Marlin Moon doesn’t have the same laid-back, party attitude that Tacolu exuded.  Apparently, it didn’t soak into the floors along with the tequila.  Possibly, with a few more Orange Crushes, the atmosphere will return, along with the parking problems and the two hour wait.  I recommend you check it out right away.