Tag Archives: steamed crabs

Elliott’s Seafood

Elliott’s Seafood
10922 Adkins Road
Berlin, MD 21811
410-641-5938
Facebook page: Elliott’s Seafood on Facebook
 
 
Aug. 22, 2016
 
 
After a kayaking trip down the Pocomoke River in Snow Hill, the desire for steamed crabs turned out to be a strong one, but they needed to come from somewhere different. Google and Facebook suggested Elliott’s Seafood in Berlin, close to Ocean Pines.
 
The long, red crab barn is located on Bill Elliott’s property, parallel to his home. There’s no question the crabs are local. The crab pots and bushel baskets are stacked up behind the long red barn that houses a freezer, steaming pots, office and customer service area.
 
Elliott catches the crabs himself south of Assateague and steams them up to order, seasoning them with J.O. Spice.
 
At this carry-out operation, a dozen mediums and larges cost $30 in late August. A half-bushel (four dozen, actually) cost $75.
 
The heavy half-bushel, packed in a vodka box, turns out to be just what he said it would be mediums and larges. Some are a little light. Some are extremely heavy. Seasoned well, these crabs made for several meals with some claws left over for soup.
 
Elliott’s makes the list of go-to places near Ocean City.

Grinder’s Seafood

Grinder’s Seafood
4665 Indian Head Hwy.
Indian Head, MD 20640
301-743-7344

Facebook page: Grinder’s on Facebook
 
 

July 30, 2016
 
 
After a nearly 16-mile bike ride in Southern Maryland, the four of opted to venture into Grinder’s Seafood, not knowing what to expect.
 
From the outside, it looks like a dive bar, just a red brick building across the highway from a Dollar Tree and a Super 8 motel.
 
Inside, it’s a small, bright, clean place decorated with a crab theme. Clearly, this is a locals joint. Small booths and tables are lined with brown paper awaiting hungry crab eaters. Crab eaters are given buckets for their shells and provided two types of vinegar. Off to one side of the restaurant is a party room that was set up for a birthday.
 
The afternoon we were there, Grinder’s had mediums for $40/dozen and larges for $60/dozen and deals on females. And, the restaurant was advertising snakehead bites as a local delicacy.
 
We opted for a dozen mediums. You order at the counter and the crabs are brought to your table. The odd thing the person taking the order didn’t do was to give us our drinks right away. They came with the meal, something I can’t say I’ve ever encountered before.
 
The crabs, caught in the nearby Potomac River, varied in weight. I’d love to tell you with what they were season, but our friendly, young server didn’t know and didn’t ask anyone. She thought Old Bay, but it tasted more like J.O. seasoning and had rock salt in it.
 
As we waited for our crabs to be cooked, our friend’s alligator sandwich, snakehead bites and fries came out, and so did our corn fritters. The gator sandwich wasn’t anything my friend would rave about, but of course, her brother catches alligators for fun. The snakehead bites were interesting, and the fries came with crab seasoning on them, catching the woman who ordered them off-guard.
 
Now, the corn fritters (and, I’m not a fritter fan) were excellent. I’m sorry we didn’t order more.
 
I found the crabs tasty and overall quite good. One of my companions, who may be more particular about his crabs than I am, thought they were overcooked. I saw no signs of the crabs being steamed for too long. Not a one was mushy. As for the price, it seemed about right for the time of the year.
 
Grinder’s gets high marks as a casual place to crack a few crabs with friends and for its clean bathroom, something that can never be under-rated.

The Crackpot Restaurant

The Crackpot Restaurant
8102 Loch Raven Blvd.
Towson, MD 21286
410-828-1095
Website: The Crackpot Restaurant
 
 
June 4, 2016
 
 
Sometimes you just have to go back to a place because you remember it as a kid.
 
The Crackpot qualifies as one of those places. Growing up not far from Loch Raven Boulevard, this was the place my mother and the neighbors would go for a fairly cheap dinner and drinks. Some nights it would be a dinner out there, or maybe a bingo game across the street in the shopping center near the county library. The bingo hall has long disappeared. The Crackpot has not.
 
Opening back in 1972, The Crackpot was probably the “happening place.”
 
I remember it as being fairly large and having a pretty big bar. The crabcakes, fish platters and fried shrimp platters were favorites in the 1970s, and if I remember correctly, the adults loved the beers and whiskey sours.
 
I remember it as the place with the chunky wood fisherman-type chairs you see in a lot of traditional seafood places.
 
Now, it seems much smaller but is more open. The big bar area that used to be walled off is now open to the dining room. A separate liquor store by the same name sits next door. Of course, it may seem smaller because I’m no longer the little kid tagging along.
 
The smells of seafood are still there, and the retro 1970s nautical feel remains, complete with large swordfish and sailfish on the walls and crab traps hanging above.
 
The other thing that hasn’t changed is the friendly neighborhood vibe. Our server was friendly. The people at the next table were friendly. The guy coming in to get carry-out was friendly.
 
The crabs – a dozen large – were expensive at $85, something to be expected that time of the year. They were hefty and seasoned well, not a generic Old Bay blend, something a touch spicier.
 
No doubt I’ll be back – out of nostalgia and probably to try the huge crabcakes The Crackpot advertises.

Country Barn Seafood

Country Barn Seafood

10852 Cathell Rd.

Berlin, Md. 21811
410-641-5164

 

Aug. 30, 2013

 

The newspaper ad advertised “hard and fat” crabs, so I just had to find out what Country Barn Seafood had to offer.

 

The gruff voice on the phone rattled off Labor Day weekend prices between $30 a dozen and $66 a dozen, and the carry-out business would only take “cash or check.”

 

How are they running, I ask? I wanted to see what kind of an answer I’d get.

 

“It’s the way I grade the crabs. They’re all heavy,” says Charles “Speedy” Voss, co-owner of Country Barn Seafood.

 

He’s the only one there, so he’ll need some time to get the crabs ready.

 

Not a problem for me, since I’m in Ocean City and Country Barn is in Ocean Pines, down Cathell Road past the hardware store.

 

I order a dozen medium-large at $54.

 

“J.O. or spicy?” he asks.

 

At first I don’t realize he’s asking me how I want the crabs seasoned. I tell him to make them spicy, and then I tell him to make them like he likes them. He says he’ll go easy on the spicy.

 

Arriving at the Country Barn Seafood, Voss is sorting crabs into bushel baskets. But he’s not just measuring them for their size in length. He’s checking out each crab’s abdomen. Its color determines its fullness. He’s also checking out its back swimming leg is to determine what stage of molting the crab is in.

 

Lightly spiced, the local crabs from the Choptank and Wye rivers lived up to his “hard and fat” guarantee. Voss’ careful sorting pays off.

 

There wasn’t a light one in the batch. Each crab was full and sweet – how they are supposed to be.

 

While the business is no-frills inside, it does offer a nice touch – a stack of old newspapers so you have something to crack your crabs on.

 

Country Barn Seafood is a “keeper” if you’re looking for steamed crabs in Ocean Pines, just don’t expect a baker’s dozen.

 

 

 

S & J Crab Ranch

 

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.

 

Rippons Seafood

Rippons Seafood

120th St. & Coastal Hwy
1911 Coastal Hwy.
Ocean City, Maryland 21842

410-723-0056

June 22, 2012

 

The drive to the beach turned out to be long – 4 hours – and through crazy downpours. As I got to Ocean City, I kept having an internal debate: Should I get crabs? I found myself then debating whether I should try Rippons? Years ago, the crabs there didn’t agree with me. But my gut told me to try again.

 

Before I realized it, I had driven to Rippons, a stand-alone brick building on 120th Street bayside, next to the Ocean City Square Shopping Center. It’s been there since 1985.

 

The friendly guy behind the counter spelled out the options for me and recommended the local crabs, calling them “decent.” The choice would be $25 a dozen for mediums (5- to 5 ½ inches), $35 a dozen for medium-large (5 ½- to 6-inch) or $60 a dozen for large (6- to 6 ½-inch). The medium-larges, he told me, would be full, but the selling point – the fact the crabs came out of Chesapeake Bay waters, some from Crisfield and some from near Hooper’s Island – sold me. OK, I also wasn’t willing to shell out (pun intended) $60 for North Carolina crabs.

 

I managed to get to Rippons just before the early Friday dinner crowd, and as I waited, the popularity of the place became obvious.  At least a half dozen people ordered as I waited for my crabs. One regular who came for shrimp joked that he wanted to sit in front of the fresh seafood counter so he could “drool on the food.”

 

I must admit the fresh seafood, Maryland-packed Wind Mizz crab meat and homemade crab soup looked tempting. Everything looked tempting. I was hungry. Rather than add more food to my order, I did kick in an extra $6.99 for a 1-pound container of seasoning. The counter worker told me seasoning was the same type used to steam the crabs, a mix of the commercial brand JO2 and other spices Rippons used.

 

The heavy bag of crabs I was handed told me I’d made a good choice. I cracked it open the bag in the car and let the steam rise up, fogging up my glasses as my finger swiped a taste of the seasoning.

 

With the Coastal Fisherman newspaper laid out on the table, I poured out the crabs. I picked out one of the bigger crabs, a completely full one. I let my tongue enjoy the first claw, holding it in my mouth to really taste it. My reaction: I hope the rest taste as sweet. My mouth was on fire, and I couldn’t stop licking my fingers. For me, that’s always a good sign.

 

A quick count revealed I received 13 crabs. The crabs all met the minimum size requirement. A couple actually measured 6 ½ inches. Some were right on the verge of being the next size, and I’d call three light. With it being early in the season, I couldn’t argue with a few being light. But two, sadly, qualified as mushy, a bit overcooked.

 

As I worked my way through the baker’s dozen, another internal debate started, only this time it was the good wife/bad wife dilemma. Should I eat all of them? Should I save the biggest of them for my husband?  The answer: The good wife saved him three. The bad wife just couldn’t hold out. She ate the biggest one.