S & J Crab Ranch
2 W. Pennsylvania Ave.
Towson, Md. 21204
June 22, 2013
Our plans for a Saturday afternoon in Baltimore County originally did not include a trip to S&J Crab Ranch. In fact, we really wanted to go to The Barn, and relive the nostalgia of having had our “crabs and beer” wedding reception there 20 years earlier. But The Barn didn’t open for crabs until 4:30 p.m., and we were there a couple of hours earlier, so we went off in search of other crab options.
Rather than hit any of the Baltimore-area crab joints I knew would be good, we went to S&J Crab Ranch in the heart of Towson, next door to the Elks.
This restaurant has the air of a sports bar. Near the front door, crabs are painted with university team logos and the state flag.
The place was virtually empty. OK, it was 3 p.m. on a sunny Saturday, so I guess I can understand it.
We sat in the bar area and had our choice of a booth or table for four. As the Orioles game played on one big screen TV and the Nationals on the other on one of bar’s brick walls, we took a table, and were greeted by one of the nicest waitresses I’ve encountered in a long time.
Yes, she knew the crabs were from North Carolina. Yes, she was very clear it would take at least 25 minutes to steam them to order. No, the restaurant didn’t serve pre-steamed crabs.
We ponied up the big bucks for the X-large crabs, $79 a dozen.
A half-hour after we ordered (and after some tasty, sweet potato fries), 13 crabs arrived along with Bud Light NFL buckets for the shells. We opted against the melted butter and vinegar that were offered and started cracking.
With country music blaring the latest hits and sports on the TVs, we spent a leisurely 2 ½ hours at S&J, eating and chatting occasionally with the young waitress who was working her way through college and grew up literally one street from where I did.
Seasoned lightly with what the waitress said was Old Bay with touch of mustard and rock salt, the crabs were decent but a touch inconsistent.
I loved that it was a baker’s dozen. Overall, the crabs scored as X-large crabs, but four were light and runny. Seven of the crabs qualified as heavy and two fared as average. I’m guessing whoever steamed the crabs knew there were a few light ones in there, and threw in No. 13 to compensate.
Overall, on a slow Saturday afternoon S&J Crab Ranch was a pleasant experience, although a touch pricey. If you go, get Courtney to wait on you and leave her a big tip.