Bahama Mamas North
13201 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, Md. 21842
May 30, 2010
Some things you just don’t want hear when you’re eating crabs. “I’ve been sweating my balls off” is one of them. Those are the exact words that came out of one waiter’s mouth at Bahama Mamas North as he waited on a group of friends Memorial Day weekend.
That same waiter quickly served those friends crabs as the two neighboring tables – a group of bikers and a large family with young children – waited and waited for their crabs. The waiter complained loudly enough that those of us at other tables could hear how he had all of three tables to wait on and hadn’t stopped since he got on the job.
Boo hoo. I’m glad the kid wasn’t my waiter or I gladly would have read him the riot act.
And, man, what a bad experience – one I swear I won’t repeat.
Before I completely blast the substandard food and service, let me first say that in years past I’ve ordered carry-out from a different Bahama Mamas location (the 78th Street location before it became a sub shop) and been satisfied. I was eager to try the restaurant where Higgins used to be located. I didn’t get to it last summer.
Unprepared, under-trained and under-staffed. Those are things no restaurant in a resort town should be on a weekend, especially a holiday weekend – one where people are itching to part with their cash after a great day on the beach.
With tables open, Bahama Mamas deliberately didn’t seat its customers, telling people the wait was 15, 20, 35 minutes because the restaurant didn’t have enough servers. Seriously – not enough servers on a holiday? During a recession?
As I waited my 20 minutes for a table of two (there were at least five open tables inside and at least four outside), the hostess (“Honestly, I don’t know where the crabs are from.”) seated two other larger parties that didn’t have reservations. Four other families took their names off the waiting list, and the phone rang and rang.
Once seated, the first waitress said she’d be right with us. She was back in five minutes to tell us another waitress would handle our order. She stopped by again when she saw we were still sitting there. Waitress No. 2 appears – completely frazzled. Frazzled? It’s only 6:30 p.m. It’s too early to be frazzled, to not tell the customer your name.
After seeing how small the all-you-can-eat crabs ($21.95 with crab soup and corn, unless you believed the sign outside that said $19.95) were, we opted for conch shell fritters ($9) and a dozen large crabs ($39) for the two of us. Bahama Mamas considers a crab a large crab if it’s 5.25 ounces to 6 ounces.
The fritters had to be rolled on a paper towel they were so greasy. The North Carolina crabs had a lot of seasoning on top of them, but turned out to be completely tasteless and watery. Typically, when I eat crabs, my hands are covered in seasoning. These crabs were so watery that my hands were basically clean when I finished picking.
By comparison, crabs we bought Friday night from Ocean Grille in Easton had more taste after two hours in the car than these did served hot.
My best guess: the crabs at Bahama Mamas were old. That’s the conclusion of my taste buds and my digestive system since they made a quick exit. Sorry if’s that’s TMI.
Completely disappointed, I guess I can take consolation in a couple of things.
My crabs weren’t given to the waiter’s friends.
I didn’t get a dirty glass of soda, as the table next to me did.
I didn’t have to keep waiting for corn or soup or crabs, as the group next to us did.
I didn’t have to send back any crabs. A woman in the restroom told me of the half dozen she had, two had to go back.
And, I wasn’t sitting next to a large table that hadn’t been cleared. I watched one prime table remain piled with crab pickings for 20 minutes.
The refrain I kept hearing from the waitresses to their customers was the same: “I’m sorry.” I find that sad. Apologies don’t make the food and service any more palatable.
Bahama Mamas, you need to get your act together. Update your web site. This is your second summer at this location and it’s not on your site. Hire enough people and train your staff properly. A hostess should know about the crabs. Waitresses shouldn’t be running from one end of the restaurant to the other. Tables should be cleared quickly – not 20 minutes after a family leaves. And, under no circumstances should waiters be telling customers about their “balls.”