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Cantler's Is Only A Start...

On CH I had two posts last summer which were my most recent excursions to date in search of Maryland's best crab house experience. I think they are both interesting; certainly the restaurants and crab houses we visited have rarely been mentioned on any of the boards. These are links to both of them:

http://www.chowhound.com/midatlantic/board...ages/44130.html

http://www.chowhound.com/midatlantic/board...ages/44687.html

I know that several on here have now been to Suicide Bridge and others; I would be curious as to comparisons.

Todd Kliman wrote a lengthy piece on Maryland crabs for the City Paper last month which included the name of the restaurant which he felt had the best crabcake he has ever tasted. This is the link for his article:

https://secure.washingtoncitypaper.com/cgi-....x=26&next.y=13

This is the link to the website of the Cambridge, Maryland restaurant, "Ocean Odyssey" which he raved about:

http://www.toddseafood.com/

There is also a rather unique message board where quite a few people regularly discuss their crab related adventures and indulgences. This is the link to it:

http://www.blue-crab.org/forum/index.php/board,11.0.html

Last, this is an especially good website which lists one person's choice for the best crab houses on or near the Bay:

http://www.blue-crab.org/crabhouses.htm

Having said all of this Waterman's in Rock Hall serves a side of sherry with their cream of crab soup, Jerry's Seafood in Lanham has lumps of crabmeat on top of their's (not Maryland crab meat) and Harrison's on Tilghman Island has terrible cream of crab but outstanding red vegetable crab soup. The Narrows, my candidate for Maryland's best lump crab cake, has terrible, watery vegetable crab soup but excellent, thick (but not "floury") cream of crab as does Jerry's and Stoney's on Broome Island.

Just thought I would start a discussion........

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Cantler's Is Only A Start...

I know that several on here have now been to Suicide Bridge and others; I would be curious as to comparisons.

Today was a crab crawl kind of day today - early fall, sunny, not too hot, and all the tourists are long gone. So, yeah, some of us decided to crawl to the Eastern Shore and eat our way through a few pounds of Chesapeake Bay delicacies; leaving the picnic preparations behind for others to stress over. I was joined by Lydia R, EllenH, JohnB and JoeH with assorted friends and spouses. So, yeah, I didn't have the hot little convertible sports coupes that *certain* couples arrived in - but I did wangle the perfect roof deck table at Harris Crabhouse, at Kent Narrows, overlooking the drawbridge. That was the good part. The crabs? They were enormous (jumbos and extra large) and heavy, post-46-1128226214_thumb.jpgbut where was the steam? No steam! We also sampled (in no particular order) vegetable crab soup - it got tasted and shoved aside; cream of crab soup - very thick - too thick for me, but declared delicious by Mrs. JoeH. Also fried oysters. Mine came out of the fryer much too late - others were more fortunate, and liked theirs a lot. And a stuffed softshell that looked good but I didn't try. The sides were ho-hum - though the slaw was fresh, it lacked any discernable spicing. Corn was fresh, but stayed a minute or two too long in the pot. Tartar sauce came in foil packets :lol: .

So then we got into a huge bickering match about where to crawl to next. Some wanted to head north to Watermans, some wanted to head south to Suicide Bridge. The Narrows was mentioned. Some joint in Cambridge that Kliman liked was quickly ruled out - not on the water. We arm wrestled. Vigorously. I happen to be a champion arm wrestler thanks to my days rowing crew, so while some turned tail and headed back across the bridge, the rest of us set our gps systems on Suicide Bridge. (My route took me right past David Lankford's Davon Crest Farm - only three minutes from the restaurant, gee what a coincidence.)

I'd been there earier in the summer and enjoyed the best stuffed rockfish I'd ever had - better than Crisfields in its day - and looked forward to returning. It's a dark wood, family style place, quite large, but broken up into various spaces and levels, with interesting exterior walls: post-46-1128224852_thumb.jpg Even though there are tables outside post-46-1128225085_thumb.jpg, we were told they are not serving outside anymore. :P We settled in next to the window, and ordered away: an assortment of apps - crab balls, stuffed clams and stuffed oysters post-46-1128226577_thumb.jpg- fried oysters post-46-1128224745_thumb.jpg, cream of crab soup, a crab cake sandwich, and that sublime stuffed rockfish. Other than the apps, which didn't excite us, the rest was terrific. We all had the soup, which came with a little cup of sherry on the side. It was packed with lump crab, celery and dotted with paprika. Really, really great. My oysters were crispy, hot and juicy, and came with house-made butternut squash. From my last trip, I would also recommend trying the chef's summer squash casserole if it's on the menu, and the seafood salad post-46-1128225196_thumb.jpg Even the tartare sauce and cocktail sauce were made fresh. We also noticed that jumbo crabs were going for $48 here, while they were $80 at Harris'. Go figure. Much too full for dessert - but the peach cobbler sure sounded like a winner. Suicide Bridge has two paddle wheelers that take parties out for crab feasts too: post-46-1128225500_thumb.jpg. Ten minutes after shoving back from the table I was on my way to work it all off at Davon Crest Farm while the others crawled back toward the bridge.

Edited by crackers
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It was a great fun day---many many thanks for organizing. The conclusion for me is that when it comes to Eastern Shore crab houses, unpredictability is the name of the game. You get some awful thing (the veg. crab soup), followed by something really good (the fried oysters) followed by something sublime (the crab-stuffed rockfish), followed by something ho-hum (the various apps). And it all seems to vary day-by-day. Crab crawls are not for the faint of tongue.

Today "Mrs." Johnb and I will be missing the DR picnic to attend the blessing of the fleet at St. Clements with our "hot little convertible sport coupe" club, and I'm sure we will be scarfing up, of all things, some Ches. Bay seafood. So we'll have a report on the relative merits of the festival approach vs. the crab house approach to finding the good stuff.

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When I have written about excursions and experiences in the past, certainly places almost unkown on message boards, I've sometimes wondered if anyone else ever went and found what I have. At Harris' yesterday BaltoEllen said that because of my writing about Suicide Bridge and Waterman's (both linked above in the first post) they went. To both. And agreed with me about Waterman's that overall it may be Maryland' best crab house.

I should also note that my wife who has shared in most of my exploits often disagrees with me. At Suicide Bridge (which I now consider Maryland's best overall "Maryland style" seafood restaurant) she did not like their cream of crab soup. I did. In fact with the addition of the side of a souffle cup of sherry (we were not charged for this) I thought this was the best cream of crab soup of any Maryland restaurant I've been to. Perhaps more lump crab than any other. The fresh rockfish filet topped with lump crab imperial (luncheon portion that was as large a dinner portion anywhere else) was outstanding. But the best were the two vegetable sides, baked butternut squash "chunks" which were crusted with brown sugar and butter and sweet, stewed tomatoes which together would equal any Thanksgiving Day vegetables I've ever had in a restaurant. Fried oysters were excellent with both tartar sauce and cocktail sauce made in house. On the way out I noted warm housemade peach cobbler with ice cream that, were it not for a three hour eating binge I would have included.

Suicide Bridge's lump crab cakes (they have two-the lump are the best) are excellent. But I am now convinced having had G & M (a true disappointment!!! that I continue to wonder why anyone likes these), Angelina's (there are reasons why they recommend fried rather than broiled), Harris (although good I remarkably couldn't see much difference between the two styles of cooking there), Suicide Bridge and the Narrows (five or six times in the last 18 months) that my wife and I at least agree on this: the Narrows have the best Maryland crab cakes anywhere. We've probably had crab cakes at 15 or more places in the last 18 months, almost all proclaiming to have the "world's best." On this trip, sated and bulging, we didn't stop at the Narrows on the way home.

But that's reason to revisit Waterman's AND the Narrows on the next trip!

Thanks to Crackers for organizing this and to everyone for sharing a beautiful, sunny 80 degree day on Maryland's eastern shore.

Edited by Joe H
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Just got back from the "Blessing of the Fleet" in St. Clements. A lovely little place and a nice little festival. The Archbishop appeared on que and took up his position on the replica of the Dove, and blessed the various boats which appeared and requested an assist from above for the coming year. This was the 38th year of the festival, which was for the benefit of the local oystermen and their workboats in the early days, but since the commercial fleet has for all practical purposes passed out of existence, the "blessees" now are mostly pleasure boats. But it's a nice tradition, with an appropriate degree of pomp, bright costumes, and so forth. A beautiful and enjoyable day, and a wonderful ride and parade participation with about 15 other Corvettes. Too bad about missing the DR picnic, but.......

But getting to the point of all this, the food report. Bottom line is that, based on this festival at least, festivals are an OK way to sample Southern Maryland's bounty but are a long way from foolproof. The concept of the volunteer organization cooking for you still lives, but the professional catering trucks are there as well. Perhaps the saddest part is the ever-increasing purview of the health dept. nazis, who now will not allow a raw, cold oyster to be sold in such a (outdoor, temporary) setting, so only steamed oysters were available. Seems bizarre to me, but the gentleman at the oyster booth claimed lots of locals eat them that way--he was the one who explained to me about the regs., so take it for what it's worth. I tried a half-dozen, and while they were platable, ice cold would have certainly been better. I sampled my first Maryland stuffed ham, in sandwich form, and it was good. I tried both vegetable and cream-style crab soup. The veggie was far superior to yesterday's version at Harris, tho it didn't have much crab AFAICS. I liked it better than the cream version, tho Janet thought the cream was better. I had a half-dozen steamed crabs by myself. They were definitely better than those we had Saturday; three were very good, one was OK, one was not OK, and one was mushy (cooked too long I suppose). Fried clam strips were on offer, and I asked if the clams were local or frozen from the Sysco truck, and the lady had no compunction about telling me they were frozen and from Sysco, literally--so just because it is a seafood town (where they do in fact clam), it doesn't mean that that's what they have at their annual festival. Sad but true. Overall, a mixed bag.

My conclusion is, for ChesBay seafood, you can do just as well in a carefully selected local restaurant, such as Narrows, Suicide, or (so it is said) Watermans. There are others too, but unfortunately more bad ones than good ones, so careful selection seems highly advisable. And even then different dishes vary greatly in quality, and probably from day-to-day. Let the eater beware. Fortunately, the good ones are great, and make it all worthwhile.

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I just wanted to thanks Crackers for organizing this outing; unfortunately, we were just able to join in for the first leg of the "crawl."

Mr. Baltoellen and I both thought the crabs at Harris's were very, very good, however, we did miss the "steam," and believe it is ALWAYS worth the wait to have your crabs cooked to order. We were also sort of amazed at the incredible lack of MD crabs this season, despite the fact that we keep reading articles about what a great crab year this is supposed to be....(the crabs @ Harris's were from DE--gasp--).

I agree with the other posts that the MD crab soup was an incredible disappointment. In fact, I would say that it was among the least inspired crab soup that I've ever had.

This outing made me realize that the summer's quickly coming to a close, and I'd better head to Waterman's ASAP....

Well, Crackers, thanks again.....and great meeting everyone.

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My mother-in-law's favorite place to get steamed crabs to go is Hale's, up in the northern outpost of Baltimore. Anyone have any comments or comparisons? She lives nearby (off of Taylor Ave. near the School for the Blind and that big cemetery).

I'm asking because I might want to take her some crabs on an upcoming visit.

Also, anyone been to Captain Pells' in Fairfax?

ScotteeM

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My mother-in-law's favorite place to get steamed crabs to go is Hale's, up in the northern outpost of Baltimore.  Anyone have any comments or comparisons?  She lives nearby (off of Taylor Ave. near the School for the Blind and that big cemetery).

I'm asking because I might want to take her some crabs on an upcoming visit.

Also, anyone been to Captain Pells' in Fairfax?

ScotteeM

I've had crabs from Hale's once....and, was not at all impressed, and didn't feel the need to give them a second shot. I generally get crabs in Baltimore from Chris's in Canton. Someone just wrote up a glowing review of Franks Seafood, in Elkridge...and their prices seemed really great. FWIW, they will be the next that I check out.

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My mother-in-law's favorite place to get steamed crabs to go is Hale's, up in the northern outpost of Baltimore.  Anyone have any comments or comparisons?  She lives nearby (off of Taylor Ave. near the School for the Blind and that big cemetery).

That's where we get crabs when I go home to see my folks (they live near Lutherville). They are always hot, steamed to order, and sized as quoted. Plus we usually have a $5-10 off coupon from a mailer they send out in the summer. Sure we could save a couple bucks by driving elsewhere, but who needs the hassle? In my experience proximity to home is more important. The faster they go from the steamer to your table the better.

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Hello,

My pops is in town for the weekend, and we have a craving for steamed & spiced crabs. Going to be running the 10 miler on Sunday morning, and am thinking that Sunday afternoon/evening would be the time to go - we may be pretty tired, so I don't want to go trekking more than 30-45 minutes away ( I live in DC). I would just go to Cantler's, but am in the mood to branch out, and of course am seeking the best crabs.

I've read the previous posts about Suicide Bridge & Waterman's, and am wondering if they're worth the extra mileage... Also, I know it is the very beginning of the season, should I expect anything other than high prices? The crab will still be great, right??

Thanks <_<

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Bo Brooks, hon. Even though they are now in chi chi Canton (just below Baltimore's Inner Harbor, in an old warehouse district that is now upscale), and not up on "Bulare" (Belair) Road in the truest bluest collar haven you ever saw, and even though you don't squeeze thru the narrow, smoky bar serving Natty Bo on tap to get to the dining room, they still have big, meaty crabs steamed to perfection and the most ethereal, batter-dipped onion rings in the world.

I've heard great things about A-1 in Crab Haven in the Essex area of Baltimore, but have never been there.

Ellen

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I'm heading to Opening Day in Bawlmer on Monday with a pre-game stop at Faidley's. I'm going to have one of those huge crabcakes even though I know damn well it'll be Indonesian crab or some such.

For kicks I'll be sure to ask where it comes from. Probably get my ass kicked.

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Bo Brooks last August was $75 for Jumbos, Suicide Bridge about $50. I first ate at Bo Brooks when I would drive from Silver Spring to Bel Air road in the '70's. Still, today,Waterman's in my opinion is the best crab house in Maryland, in part for their ambience which I prefer over Cantler's, Stoney's or any other. If you are in Baltimore Bo Brooks is an excellent choice as is Bill's Terrace Inn and several others. But for a really nice day (like tomorrow) and 75 degrees and sunny I'd head for Waterman's.

Edited by Joe H
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Bo Brooks last August was $75 for Jumbos, Suicide Bridge about $50.  I first ate at Bo Brooks when I would drive from Silver Spring to Bel Air road in the '70's.  Still, today,Waterman's in my opinion is the best crab house in Maryland, in part for their ambience which I prefer over Cantler's, Stoney's or any other.  If you are in Baltimore Bo Brooks is an excellent choice as is Bill's Terrace Inn and several others.  But for a really nice day (like tomorrow) and 75 degrees and sunny I'd head for Waterman's.

hanks so much for your response Joe H, I was hoping you'd reply - IMHO, you're one of the resident experts <_< Any estimate on how long it will take to drive to Waterman's from DC?
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I'm heading to Opening Day in Bawlmer on Monday with a pre-game stop at Faidley's. I'm going to have one of those huge crabcakes even though I know damn well it'll be Indonesian crab or some such.

For kicks I'll be sure to ask where it comes from. Probably get my ass kicked.

This is my plan as well. I'll look for the guy with the yellow rubber gloves.
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hanks so much for your response Joe H, I was hoping you'd reply - IMHO, you're one of the resident experts <_<   Any estimate on how long it will take to drive to Waterman's from DC?

hen you're sitting outdoors on the deck at Waterman's you can actually see the Bay Bridge in the distance, about four or five "air miles" away. Unfortunately you have to drive for about 45 miles to get to it because the route is so circuitous winding through a number of small towns. It's about an hour or so from the Bay Bridge, perhaps 90-100 minutes from downtown D. C.

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Hoping that this is the appropriate thread...even though the previous comment is 6 months old...

At any rate, this is my last spring in DC for a little bit, and I've not yet been out to eat crab in Maryland. Can anyone recommend the best places within reasonable driving distance? Soft shell, blue, whatever, I like it all and I'd like to eat the best and freshest.

Thanks!

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If your definition of "reasonable" includes Annapolis and environs, there's the ever-popular Cantler's just south of Annapolis, which offers a bit of that crab shack atmosphere without having to venture out to the Eastern Shore. A little farther away, I'm fond of the Fisherman's Crab Deck across the Bay Bridge (and Kent Island), which is more of a pavilion with picnic seating. Either one will serve you on unrolled brown kraft paper, with a roll of paper towels handy, and plenty of Old Bay and vinegar. Both also have docks, if you're arriving by boat.

Dunno about closer-in. Some folks like the Bethesda Crab House, but to me there's just something about eating crabs right on the water.

(please post followups to crackers' response in the Crabs thread)

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this is my last spring in DC for a little bit, and I've not yet been out to eat crab in Maryland.  Can anyone recommend the best places within reasonable driving distance?  Soft shell, blue, whatever, I like it all and I'd like to eat the best and freshest.

Thanks!

If your definition of "reasonable" includes Annapolis and environs, there's the ever-popular Cantler's just south of Annapolis, which offers a bit of that crab shack atmosphere without having to venture out to the Eastern Shore.  A little farther away, I'm fond of the Fisherman's Crab Deck across the Bay Bridge (and Kent Island), which is more of a pavilion with picnic seating.  Either one will serve you on unrolled brown kraft paper, with a roll of paper towels handy, and plenty of Old Bay and vinegar.  Both also have docks, if you're arriving by boat.

Dunno about closer-in.  Some folks like the Bethesda Crab House, but to me there's just something about eating crabs right on the water.

Cantler's will have what you want, and this time of year shouldn't be too difficult to get a table outside on the deck. Still, I prefer Mike's on the South River. Right now their large jimmies are $48/dozen. (they were $50/dozen at Cantler's today.)

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I know it is very early in the season, but we want to go for crabs this weekend. We usually go to Cantler's, but will be on the other side of the Bay Bridge.

Has anyone been to The Crab Claw in St. Michael's? I have heard good things. If not good, where would you recommend close to but over the bridge?

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I'm among friends, right? So I am going to spill my guts, confess to you all, that despite being a Maryland/DC resident since 1979, I hate picking crabs. Lump crab, fine. Bring it on. Sitting down with a hammer and trying to extract my own? Uh uh.

Do I have to move now? :unsure:

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I'm among friends, right? So I am going to spill my guts, confess to you all, that despite being a Maryland/DC resident since 1979, I hate picking crabs. Lump crab, fine. Bring it on. Sitting down with a hammer and trying to extract my own? Uh uh.

Do I have to move now? :unsure:

No, of course not! I can definitely see how picking crabs is not the most enjoyable activity in the world, with all the guts and organs and stuff. Although it makes me feel manly, like I've really accomplished something.

Laura (not a man)

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I'm among friends, right? So I am going to spill my guts, confess to you all, that despite being a Maryland/DC resident since 1979, I hate picking crabs. Lump crab, fine. Bring it on. Sitting down with a hammer and trying to extract my own? Uh uh.

Do I have to move now? :unsure:

You and me both. The ratio of work/pleasure involved does not work for me. Lobster, on the other hand...Some of my most cherished culinary experiences have involved eating lobsters boiled in seawater overlooking small harbors in Maine.

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I'm among friends, right? So I am going to spill my guts, confess to you all, that despite being a Maryland/DC resident since 1979, I hate picking crabs. Lump crab, fine. Bring it on. Sitting down with a hammer and trying to extract my own? Uh uh.

Do I have to move now? :)

I'm with you. Having been raised on the sweet, succulent chunks of meat that one easily extracts from a Dungeness, I was flabbergasted during my first experience with Maryland Blues when a Baltimore girl and her family introduced me to them years ago. When they hauled out the newspaper, paper towels, and mallets, I thought my new girlfriend was perhaps a bit kinkier than I had given her credit for.

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I'm among friends, right? So I am going to spill my guts, confess to you all, that despite being a Maryland/DC resident since 1979, I hate picking crabs. Lump crab, fine. Bring it on. Sitting down with a hammer and trying to extract my own? Uh uh.

Do I have to move now? :)

It's okay. I think it has something to do more with being born a Marylander. Must be the water. If you happen get ahold of some of the bigger crabs that you might get at Bo Brooks, it's a heck of a lot easier.

Mmm... *sucks on the crab legs* *scoops out the mustard*

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I'm with you. Having been raised on the sweet, succulent chunks of meat that one easily extracts from a Dungeness, I was flabbergasted during my first experience with Maryland Blues when a Baltimore girl and her family introduced me to them years ago. When they hauled out the newspaper, paper towels, and mallets, I thought my new girlfriend was perhaps a bit kinkier than I had given her credit for.
Ditto. The very first crabs I was introduced to were Dungeness crabs bought live from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. I LOVED them. I was APPALLED when I first moved to this area (back in the Dark Ages) and was faced with what I considered those little-bitty crabs that everybody just raved about. I think it's just an East Coast-West Coast thing. Further, the first time I tried making crab cakes at home involved a dinner for my future parents in-law. I could not believe that one could spend that much for a container of crab meat and then was expected to meticulously go through the whole thing picking out the "cartilage," so I didn't bother. :) I have bothered ever since.

When it comes to picking crabs, Craig has informed me that he just doesn't like to work that hard for his dinner. Lobsters are another matter, however.

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It's okay. I think it has something to do more with being born a Marylander. Must be the water. If you happen get ahold of some of the bigger crabs that you might get at Bo Brooks, it's a heck of a lot easier.

Mmm... *sucks on the crab legs* *scoops out the mustard*

LOVE the mustard!!! I think the process of picking crabs is definitely an acquired taste - the first couple of times I was miserable.....then someone showed me 'how' to do it as efficiently as possible.....and with big crabs its a lot easier and you can actually leave the table full

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At Suicide Bridge (which I now consider Maryland's best overall "Maryland style" seafood restaurant) she did not like their cream of crab soup. I did. In fact with the addition of the side of a souffle cup of sherry (we were not charged for this) I thought this was the best cream of crab soup of any Maryland restaurant I've been to. Perhaps more lump crab than any other.

Suicide Bridge's lump crab cakes (they have two-the lump are the best) are excellent.

Joe - Thank You for the tip.

We stopped off for lunch today. Had a dozen large ($50), they were nice size and sweet.

We had the cream of crab soup and more lump crab in the bowl than I have ever seen before. We also had crab dip (really flavorful and creamy) and the crab balls. We did not get the crab cakes, but the balls were very good (not lump in the balls).

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Saturday night we were at the Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival in Darlington, Maryland because my wife's cousin was performing there. He is from Canada and had never eaten steamed crabs so my son and I took him out to dinner (unfortunately my wife had a prior commitment for the weekend). After asking some of the local folks where to go, we ended up at the Lafayette Inn in Rising Sun. A friend once told me that any restaurant where the lot had a lot of cars either had a good bar or a good deal. While the Lafayette has a bar, I think the folks were there for the good deal.

As we walked in the waitress asked if we were having crabs. When we said yes, she seated us at a table covered with brown butcher paper, not one of the ones with a tablecloth. Good sign. She apologized that there were only small crabs available, and took our order. A dozen crabs ($26), salad and soup bar ($6.95) and iced tea ($1) We couldn't have asked for better Maryland crab soup, the salad bar was kinda sparse, but we wanted the vegs. and what was there was very fresh (also a pretty good broccoli salad as well as some pickled eggs) and very good tea (which was constantly refilled.) It was fun to watch someone attack a crab for the first time. My son showed him how and he dug in.

All in all, it was a much better place than it looked from the outside. If I had been driving past I probably would not have stopped in, but since it was recommended by a local, we tried it and enjoyed ourselves. While we walked in thru the bar, the Lafayette Inn is really much more of a family place. It certainly filled up quickly and everyone seemed to be enjoying their food. I can't say how anything else was, but the crabs were done perfectly and the crab soup was excellent, and the service couldn't have been friendlier or more efficient.

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I'm among friends, right? So I am going to spill my guts, confess to you all, that despite being a Maryland/DC resident since 1979, I hate picking crabs. Lump crab, fine. Bring it on. Sitting down with a hammer and trying to extract my own? Uh uh.

Do I have to move now? :blink:

No, of course not! I can definitely see how picking crabs is not the most enjoyable activity in the world, with all the guts and organs and stuff. Although it makes me feel manly, like I've really accomplished something.

Laura (not a man)

I never responded to this ;) ...it's not the organs or guts. None of that stuff bothers me. It's the fiddlyness for so little reward that I don't enjoy. It's boring and irritating. I feel similarly about lobster.

That said, we'll be in Dewey Beach for a week this summer and it might be time to introduce the kids to the "joy" of picking crabs (they are Maryland born). Where's the best place close to Dewey for crabs? Or will we be better off buying and steaming them at home?

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I never responded to this :blink: ...it's not the organs or guts. None of that stuff bothers me. It's the fiddlyness for so little reward that I don't enjoy. It's boring and irritating. I feel similarly about lobster.

That said, we'll be in Dewey Beach for a week this summer and it might be time to introduce the kids to the "joy" of picking crabs (they are Maryland born). Where's the best place close to Dewey for crabs? Or will we be better off buying and steaming them at home?

I have a deep and abiding love for Chicken Ed's. It's the side-of-the-road joint in Dewey just before Route 1 splits with the road that take you to Rehobeth. You order through a chicken wire window, take your brown paper and your crabs/steamers/peel-and-eat shrimp/hush puppies/corn on the com/etc to a picnic table, crack open a beer from your cooler (it's BYOB) and begin a wonderful Delmarva evening.

I'm sure there are out-of-the-way spots with cheaper crabs, draft beer or other attractions. I've been going to Ed's for all 28 of my years, it screams youth and beach and family for me, and I would never go anywhere else.

Alex

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We are considering taking my in-laws to Annapolis on Wed., with a side trip to Cantlers. Any chance that the crabs are local at this time?

Also, does anyone know of a water taxi from Annapolis to Cantlers?

Thanks.

Cantlers may be pulling in a bushel or two every day around now, but crabs don't really start coming up until mid-June to early July, depending on how soon we get sustained hot (80 degree) weather. Right now, they're still coming up from the Carolinas.

Cantler's in on Mill Creek which would require going out onto the Bay; too tricky to navigate in a water taxi. You might look into renting a Boston whaler or something similar to go over.

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I have a deep and abiding love for Chicken Ed's. It's the side-of-the-road joint in Dewey just before Route 1 splits with the road that take you to Rehobeth. You order through a chicken wire window, take your brown paper and your crabs/steamers/peel-and-eat shrimp/hush puppies/corn on the com/etc to a picnic table, crack open a beer from your cooler (it's BYOB) and begin a wonderful Delmarva evening.

I'm sure there are out-of-the-way spots with cheaper crabs, draft beer or other attractions. I've been going to Ed's for all 28 of my years, it screams youth and beach and family for me, and I would never go anywhere else.

Alex

A second for Ed's! The best and most reasonably-priced place in Dewey. Lazy Susan's isn't bad if you want to head out on Route 1, but why drive? I think you can get them steamed for takeout at the seafood market attached to Big Fish Grill where Rte 1 splits off to Rehoboth going south into Dewey (in AlexC's description Ed's is just before the split as you are heading north out of Dewey, and it's a different split! Confused yet?). There is also a tiny seafood shack (literally a shack) a little further down Rte 1 just before you get to Dewey. It keeps odd hours, though, and may not even be operating any more. I have no clue what it was called, but it is/was roughly across the street from Bozie's Produce.

Whatever you do don't take them to a crab feast at the Rudder ...

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Well, it's Eastern Shore (near Cambridge) and not Southern Maryland, but my vote is for Suicide Bridge. Great setting, huge place, good food, great crabs. Not easy to find. We will probably be there on Sunday unless we opt for the Narrows instead. Depends on how many want crabs vs. other. Suicide Bridge has plenty of other, but the Narrows is overall a better restaurant for other - more refined menu, better preparation. The other at Suicide Bridge is mostly traditional Maryland seafood, which even done well is a shame, because they tend to glop heavy sauces on perfectly fine seafood. If things like Crab Imperial are your thing, though, I am confident that they are good at Suicide Bridge, as the food there is uniformly good. I can't remember what app we had (yes, we had apps before hard shells - we were REALLY hungry - though we soon regretted it) but I remember thinking that they were fantastic. The onion rings were also great. Note that their website doesn't work in Firefox but seems fine in IE.

The Narrows: http://www.thenarrowsrestaurant.com/index.shtml

Suicide Bridge: http://www.suicidebridge.com

Ellen

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Suicide Bridge would be a classic choice for hard crabs. However the Narrows is not a crab house and doesn't do hard crabs at all. The Narrows if the far better choice for cuisine though - ask for a table overlooking the water on the enclosed back porch. For a full day, if you haven't been to St. Michaels, that would make a fun day trip destination. The Crab Claw there is another good hard crab experience.
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Report from the Narrows (sorry, I forgot that they don't do hard shells! though there is a crabhouse next door - maybe those in search of hard shells could do take-out from the joint next door and everyone could eat in the parking lot between the two restaurants).

Four very happy diners. We'd been birding at the Delaware beaches all day* and were pretty tired and hungry when we arrived at 5 p.m. I think the owner employs every cute teenage girl on Kent Island as we are always greeted by pretty teenage girls. We had a nice table inside, but overlooking the water. Though I'm usually a "don't you dare put anything in my glass but pure hootch" kind of person, I was hankering for a wet, summer, beachy drink so ordered a Sea Breeze. A perfectly tangy and refreshing drink arrived. The two guys had Stellas and my friend had a whiskey sour (I didn't ask if it was good, but she seemed to be happy with it).

We each had the gazpacho topped with crabmeat. A very fresh, very tasty bowl of gazpacho. I personally prefer my gazpacho to have slightly larger, more discernible bits of veggies. This version was highly pureed. But in the end, the flavor matters most, and this was delectable. The heat was subtle and layered. The crabmeat was sweet and fresh. I moved onto to a field greens salad with pecans, berries, and gorgonzola, dresessed with tomato vinaigrette. Again, everything was very fresh and the salad was delicious. The berries were as flavorful as could be. Therefore, I would have liked more berries (they gave the diner only four small pieces of strawberry and two blackberries). The only flaw in execution was too much dressing. The salad was weighed down with dressing. As it was a light dressing, this wasn't fatal, but still...next time I will be sure to ask for easy on the dressing.

Guy One had the Fried Oyster Caesar. Sweet, tender oysters without a trace of extra oil, delicate onion rings, also without a trace of extra oil, on crisp romaine with a dressing that he thought might be homemade, but wasn't sure. He didn't taste anchovies or garlic, though, so that could mean either not homemade or just subtle (the latter is fine with us - we've had the tableside preps in Mexico several times and the flavors are always subtle). This was one terrific dish.

Guy Two had a salad with a beautifully cooked piece of tuna, and (going from memory here, as the salads aren't listed on the online memo), Belgian endive, tomatoes, and Bibb lettuce. I don't know how it was dressed. He was also very happy with it.

Friend had the light fare crabcake. I think this light fare feature is fantastic - for those who have smaller appetites, or who aren't too hungry, or just don't like to walk out of a restaurant stuffed to the gills...these are smaller portions with fewer sides. I forgot to ask her if she liked it, though we didn't hear any oohs and ahs. From past experience, though, we can vouch for the excellence of this crabcake. No filler, top quality lump crab, and a light hand with the Old Bay. As good as it gets - and we've tried crabcakes all over Maryland.

Friends share the dessert special - strawberry shortcake with cinnamon ice cream. Not the typical gloppy mess drowning in whipped cream - in fact, I don't remember any whipped cream on this one. And if their berries were as good as those on the salad....Again, no oohs and ahs, but it disappeared very fast.

Though it wasn't on the menu, I heard the waitress offer a bowl of fresh berries as a dessert to the couple at the next table. Had I had room, that's what I would have ordered. The other light dessert choices were two sorbets - last night they had coconut and blood orange/tangerine.

Service was perfect - friendly but not intrusive, prompt but we didn't feel rushed between courses or at the end of the meal. All in all, it was a lovely, relaxing meal with superb food.

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We had a lovely afternoon at Cantler's a few weeks ago. They were offering smalls and mediums from the Bay, and the larger ones were from Texas. I thought that the mediums were unusually heavy and sweet for this time of the year, so we kept ordering more until our fingers tired. The service was very efficient and nice, and there's something about eating outside over the water that makes everything taste better.

This munchkin was in full agreement with that. Her ancestors settled on the Eastern Shore in the late 1600s, and even though she lives in Denver now, we discovered that she had been hard-wired to pick crabs like a waterman.

franceyandcrabs004os3.jpg

(Many thanks to TXAggie, who patiently walked me through the process of posting a photograph.)

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Harris's Crab House on Kent Island recently had terrific jumbos for $68 a dozen - heavy, piping hot and well seasoned, and no traces of "mushiness" that occasionally hits at least one out of every dozen in many crab houses. Certainly the best I've had this year. We were able to get a seat overlooking the water on a Saturday night which was an added plus.

I need to get back to the Narrows as well - I'm not a brunch person but I've been meaning to try the crab omelet for some time now...

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Suicide Bridge would be a classic choice for hard crabs.
After a visit to Davon Crest 2, several of us headed to Suicide Bridge for, of course, more food. Felt good that I could find it again even after a year and a half. Too bad the food wasn't as good as I remembered.

The crab-balls and crab-cake were good - lots of meat and not greasy. The crab bisque was more like a gloppy chowder - even with the addition of a shot of sherry. We didn't have a quorum for a dozen hard shells so a couple of us went for softies, but were served Paper Shells - even this time of year it's just not the same.

A good way to wait out the bulk of homeward-bound beach traffic, but not for the fare other than hard shells and stewed tomatoes.

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Well, as a recent import this is of great interest to me.

I haven't done the full crabcake survey yet, but I'm trying to familiarize myself with the conventions. Faidley's rocked my world and granted me immediate understanding of why all Marylanders (?) I've known have simply scoffed at crabcakes elsewhere in the country. But when I was doing the apartment hunt a few months back, I also stopped by G&M. As an outsider, I don't get it at all. It struck me less as a crabcake and more as a pile of vaguely warm, very wet, mayonaise-y crab salad. I was there on Mother's Day and it was a total zoo, so I'm committed to returning on the assumption that I caught a bad plate. But is that how they're supposed to be? If so, count me in the camp that doesn't find G&M appealing at all.

The best crab cakes I have had anywhere are from the Narrows on Kent Island. Jerry's crab bomb in Seabrook is legitimately outstanding and, appropriately expensive for what they serve.

A couple of pieces that I wrote over three years ago about searching for the best crab cake or Maryland style seafood restaurant:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/171496

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/171420

I personally believe that Maryland's overall best "Maryland style" seafood restaurants are Jerry's and Suicide Bridge in Hurlock, MD. I also agree with Steve-G & M's crab cakes really do not have any discernible flavor. I would further suggest that the most difficult restaurant to find in the state of Maryland is Suicide Bridge... Waterman's is the most atmospheric crab house, even more so than Cantler's or Stoney's on Broome Island or the Drift Inn.

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