When people think of Ocean City, images of families strolling down the boardwalk, riding the ferris wheel or laying out on the sand are what normally comes to mind. In fact the focus of the town leans so far toward the east that it’s all too common that folks overlook the other side of town entirely. And they shouldn’t. Along Bay avenue sits some of the most picturesque scenery at the Jersey Shore – gorgeous waterfront views of the Great Egg Harbor Bay with its sparkling blue waters, which come summer are packed with boats and waverunners darting playfully among the seascape. Just at the water’s edge sits the Dockside Kitchen, a spot serving breakfast and lunch to those savvy enough to wander away from the beach and boardwalk for a bit.

The Dockside Kitchen consists of a outdoor patio where hungry guests can dine while gazing at the bay. A simple concept perhaps, but one that has yet to fail as far as pleasant atmosphere is concerned. The patio itself is covered which is a nice touch. On a hot day it shields you from the relentless heat of the sun, while still allowing you to enjoy the breezes and scenery. The staff here is friendly and welcoming, and each server manages to be there when you need something, but not be hovering over you to the point where it becomes overbearing. They all seem to love their jobs here, which is the first sign that something is being done right.

The next sign of what has gone right at Dockside Kitchen is the menu. Far too often places that specialize in breakfast and lunch items put together menus that are basically IHOP without the corporate branding. Topping French toast with a half pound of cheesecake isn’t going to wow anyone after they have seen it done for the 45th time. But Dockside mostly avoids these type of clichés, instead offering a unique menu of breakfast options that include items like seasonal quiches ($11), shrimp and crab omelets ($14) and a lobster benedict ($23) that was the real showstopper in both presentation — an orchid on the plate made for the perfect visual accent- as well as taste, with its incredible combination of poached eggs, bacon, butter, braised tomato and big, meaty chunks of lobster (we’re talking full claws and then some) all topped with a delightful hollandaise. A superb dish.

And that is but one of several benedict options on the menu, others include short rib ($14), crab cake ($19) and smoked salmon ($16) options as well. Breakfast sandwiches dodge the whole pork roll vs. Taylor ham debate by simply offering neither, instead opting for outside the box concepts like the salmon bagel sandwich ($12) which has hickory smoked salmon, chive sour cream and bacon onion jam all resting on a bagel and served with home fries.

The menu and presentation of these dishes is as fancy and high end as you can get, but the brilliance of The Dockside Kitchen is they manage to seamlessly combine the fanciness of the food with a casual, ultra relaxing ambiance — one in which you would feel perfectly comfortable eating these dishes in a pair of shorts and flip flops.

Lunch options are as strong as their breakfast siblings. A nice starter app is the “Don’t be Crabby Toast” ($15), which blends mashed avocado, radish, heirloom tomato, basil, mint and olive oil on multi grain toast. What makes it crabby? The giant pieces of lump crab meat that top the dish, elevating it to next level status in the blink of an eye.

There are a selection of tacos (short rib, chicken and fish varieties are all available) as well as a list of salads and sandwiches. I had the grilled shrimp roll, which piled some nicely seasoned shrimp on one of the best brioche rolls I have ever had and topped it with lettuce, grilled tomato and a cilantro aioli that was the perfect sauce for the sandwich. One of the real triumphs of Dockside Kitchen is that almost every dish on their menu manages to be somewhat decadent without being overly heavy. Opting to use grilled shrimp when many places would have done fried is a perfect example of this. You can eat this food and walk away without feeling overly stuffed and weighed down.

While technically speaking they don’t offer desserts, I decided to get a little creative and ordered the French toast as a dessert. Let’s stop kidding ourselves - anything that you load up with fruit and syrup can certainly serve as a dessert, and this was no exception. I must admit I had started to become full and wasn’t sure if it was even worth trying, but one bite of their signature French toast ($12) which combines thick-cut cinnamon vanilla brioche, whipped butter, fresh berries and melon and I was hooked. When you have a meal this good, it’s hard for any dessert to truly shine, but this French toast may have been the best thing I ate out of a series of five star dishes.

So next time you head down to Ocean City for a day of fun in the sand, I recommend you do whatever it takes to convince your clan to head on over to the bay side. It’ll be worth your while, I promise.

Sign up to receive the area's top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every Thursday.