Captain Billy’s Crabhouse

Captain Billy’s Crabhouse

 11495 Popes Creek Rd
Newburg, MD 20664-2125
(301) 932-4323

 

Reviewed: July 26, 2009

 

There are crab joints you go to savor the crabs, and there are crab joints you go to enjoy who’s with you and the view. Captain Billy’s ranks as the latter.

 

Situated on the picturesque Potomac River with a view of the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, this restaurant literally sits over the water. The view of the sailboats and ski jets is worth the drive past the cornfields to the waterfront.

 

The large crabs at $50 a dozen did even out to be large, once we factored in that a couple would have been jumbos elsewhere and a couple definitely qualified as mediums or extremely light larges. 

 

With large booths inside and tables on the riverfront deck, Captain Billy’s is clearly set up to handle volume and to handle the crab-leg and fried food crowd. And they were coming in six and eight to a table. We were there for a Southern Maryland delicacy  — steamed crabs.

 

The restaurant’s service wasn’t immediate once we sat down, but once the waitress figured out we were there, it was reliable.

 

On a scale of 5, Captain Billy’s delivers a 3. The Maryland blues lacked flavor. Clearly, they had seasoning, but they just didn’t leave you with any reason to order a second dozen. OK, Captain Billy’s gets credit for fast service. The crabs came to the table less than 5 minutes after ordering them. Unfortunately, they were cold before I finished the first one. Hey, they’re crabs. I’ll eat them hot or cold. The hush puppies were generic (don’t waste the $4). And, after driving past all that tall corn, we could have gone for an ear or two, but corn didn’t make it to the menu or the vegetable of the day list.

 

The table next to us ordered a second dozen. The $50/dozen crabs (an upgrade from their first dozen of $40 mediums) came to the table piping hot with a promise to deliver the four that were missing. They ended up getting a fifth for their wait, and they seemed to be really pleased with their second dozen.

 

Aside from the fact our dozen was lukewarm-to-cold, I might have ordered a second, except that Captain Billy’s ran out of larges. It was a bit of a bummer since it was mid-afternoon on a Saturday, not even prime-dining time.

 

Overall, Captain Billy’s delivers – if you’re looking for a gathering spot with a great view.

Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant and Crabhouse

Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant and Crabhouse
1510 Cherry Hill Road
Dumfries, Va. 22026-2939
703-441-1375

 

Reviewed: June 20, 2009

 

OK, the tone and attitude of the teenaged hostess turned out to be a big heads up as to how the evening at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant would go. As she took us to our seats, I asked her, “So where are the crabs from?” Her clueless answer: “I don’t follow crabs. The bay, maybe?”

 

Tim’s, get a clue. Train the young waif. She’s your first line of defense. The eating out experience is supposed to be enjoyable, not annoying. She should know what you’re serving. The answer from the less clueless, but nameless waitress: North Carolina.

 

Now, over the years, I’ve been to Tim’s with mixed results. This time, the results were, well, not positive.

 

There’s always a crowd at Tim’s. Some boat in, while others drive in on a windy, undeveloped road, a rarity in Prince William County. Tim’s hasn’t been overdeveloped like other areas of Dumfries, although development is coming closer and closer. For ambience, the outdoor seating and bars, live music and great boating scenery rate a 4 on a scale of 5.

 

There was a wait for outdoor seating, so we opted for a wonderful, riverfront window table inside. It would have been nice had it been wiped down. I thought it was just me, until I saw somebody else at another table lay down paper towels so he could put his hands on the table to avoid the stickiness. Tim’s, here’s a hint: Wipe the tables down. It will reduce the number of flies.

 

The crabs, I will admit, were fresh and seasoned decently. But they rate only a 2 on a scale of 5. First, it was early in the evening and the $40/dozen larges had already sold out. What the restaurant called mediums certainly didn’t look or feel medium, even for $36/dozen. I would have hated to see the regulars. The kitchen managed to drop one of the 12, so a full dozen didn’t make it to the table. Once all 12 did make it, we wondered out loud — what happened? Twelve crabs should come with 24 claws. OK, maybe a few less. Our count: 12 crabs, 4 claws.  A dozen crabs later and the two of us are still hungry. Sadly, going into the restaurant, we weren’t that hungry to begin with.

 

The waitress was honest enough to tell us about the dropped crab and to make sure crab No. 12 came out to us. She also kept the drinks coming, even if they were non-alcoholic.

 

From the looks of things, that’s why people were there – the drinks. It’s an enjoyable, relaxing setting, complete with tiki torches, American flags, plastic seating and a little sandy beach. One moment you can be watching a train roll by. The next you’re watching Tim’s pontoon boat shuttle people from their boats to the restaurant’s dock.

 

Ladies, if you’re not coming off a boat to the restaurant, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes. Tim’s literally is next to the train tracks. Get there too late and you will be walking the tracks to get from the backup parking lot to the restaurant.

 

If you head there, opt for the outdoor seating. It’s worth the wait. Inside, you can’t hear the live music, although you will get a kick out of the beachy scenes painted on the wood floors and the tin advertising signs on the ceiling. The location is the winner at Tim’s, not the crabs. I’m hopeful the next time we’re there that the food will surpass my now already low expectations.

Crab Bag

Crab Bag

130th Street – Bayside

13005 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, Md. 21842
410-250-3337

 

Reviewed: June 13, 2009

 
Delivered in a paper bag right to the table, these crabs were so hot, we burned a couple of fingers getting the first couple open. These extra large crabs ($69/dozen) delivered on size. For once, the extra larges turned out to be extra large. On size alone, they rate a 4 on a scale of 5.

 

There seemed to be a little hesitation on the part of our server about the original home of the crabs, so I checked with another while on a bathroom break. The answer: North Carolina. Covered in spicy seasoning, these hefty crabs had the most seasoned crab eaters wiping the extra seasoning off their hands after eating a couple. Our dozen did have one bummer crab – light and watery. On taste, the crabs delivered almost a 4 on a scale of 5. You could tell they didn’t come from Chesapeake Bay, or they might have rated higher. Despite the fact it was June 13, I was told Crab Bag wasn’t getting Chesapeake Bay crabs yet. The outside sign would have led you to believe otherwise.

 

Service at the Crab Bag rates a 3. Perky and polite, Kate never told us the All-You-Can-Eat price ($19.99) but did immediately recommend the crabs by the dozen and the wings seasoned with Old Bay. For us, the recommendation paid off. The All-You-Can-Eaters seemed to be waiting a bit for their crabs, but their corn looked delicious. Also, I found it odd that the servers didn’t use trays to carry out the things that came with the AUCE. They stacked baskets of hush puppies on top of each other and carried them out to the tables. It just didn’t seem appetizing.

 

Previously, a tiny crab place, the Crab Bag has undergone a complete renovation. It now has two floors of inside seating, plus ground-floor- and second-floor outdoor seating. For ambience, we managed to get in early enough to snag seating outside on the second floor, overlooking Coastal Highway. Eleven picnic tables fit on the upper deck, but only 10 could be used. Every time somebody sat at the eleventh table, they’d move, probably because of winds and light rain. The place filled up quickly, and servers had to send people who walked up to the second floor from the highway side back downstairs to the waiting list.

 

Needless to say, Coastal Highway’s traffic would have been an amusing distraction, had it not been for the waiting list people and the wind – which kept trying to whip up the paper covering the picnic table. Good thing we got the extra larges. They seemed to hold everything in place. Hint: Dress for the crosswinds if you sit outside.

 

Rare as it is, we came home with a three crabs from the even dozen. I guess we shouldn’t chow down on wings and then expect to put away a dozen heavy crabs without a few extras.

Old Mill Crabhouse

Old Mill Crabhouse

125th  Street – Bayside

Actual address:
12407 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, Md. 21842 
410-250-CRAB (2722)

 UPDATE – May 2011: Sadly, Old Mill in Ocean City won’t reopen. Delmar location is open.

Reviewed: May 22, 2009

This is the second Old Mill location. Eastern Shore locals are familiar with the Delmar, Del. location, a popular haunt known for its all-you-can-eat meals.

Perhaps it’s the newness, but the O.C. location offers up a better impression in the old Doughroller Restaurant on 125th Street. With Parkay and rolls of paper towels at every table, the décor is a typical all-you-can-eat set up – booths and long tables, great for a big family get-together. 

On our May 22, 2009 visit – grand opening night – night two of the restaurant actually being opened, the place had a few kinks to work out. The hostess sat us in a section of the restaurant where we were the only ones there, but at a table with an already full trash can. Management then decided it didn’t need to open up that part of the restaurant. The front section wasn’t even half full yet. The place was beaming with new summertime employees milling around waiting for the Memorial weekend crowds.

The server encouraged the all-you-can-eat deal at $33 (crabs, fried chicken, fried shrimp, clam crisps, corn and hush puppies), but since we remembered having that at the Delmar location and getting stuffed on everything else, we opted for just a dozen regulars.

Whether both of us misheard the waiter or he misspoke, we’ll never know. We heard $45 for a dozen. It actually was $55. There were no larges. Jumbos were $75 a dozen that night. Hint: Get the all-you-can-eat deal and tell them to only serve you only the crabs. At least that’s what I plan to do the next time I’m there. It’ll save a couple of bucks.

The crab quality rates up there – a solid 4 on a scale of 5. These were genuine Maryland crabs and fresh, too. The delivery truck was still there when we arrived. Packed with well-cooked meat and seasoned with Old Bay, these tasty gems went down easily. Regretfully, they all didn’t have claws. We’re told they’re the same ones as the all-you-can-eat, and a glance at other tables confirmed it.

The service was friendly, a 3 on a scale of 5. Once the logistics are perfected, there’s no question Old Mill’s Ocean City location will pack them in. The question will be: Will all of the crabhouses in that stretch of North O.C. – Old Mill, Higgins and Bahama Mama’s – be able to survive? We’ll see.

Greg’s Bayside

NO LONGER IN BUSINESS


 

Greg’s Bayside

Route 54/Fenwick

 

Actual Address:

37314 Lighthouse Road

Selbyville, Del. 19975

302-436-7500

 

 

Reviewed: May 8, 2009

 

Situated on the bay right on Route 54 just outside Fenwick Island, this quaint restaurant/bar attracts a good number of friendly locals. You’ll love the view, especially if you sit on the deck like we did.

 

The Louisiana crabs – larges – were well seasoned with a blend that Roscoe, our server, said was Bayside’s own. Large lumps of crab came out of these babies. They definitely were bottom-dwellers based on their blackened shells. There wasn’t a light one in the bunch. Of course, you would have hoped that for $65 a dozen they might have made it a baker’s dozen.

 

On a scale of 5, Bayside gets a 5 for the friendly factor – from both the server and the number of bargoers who came out on the deck for a smoke and to find out how the crabs were.

 

I’d give the service a 4 and the actual crabs a 4. Of course, it was early in the season – May 8 – when we checked them out.