Rock Hall, MD 21661
The father of a good friend of ours' is in a band that plays 50s & 60s music and this past weekend, they played in Rock Hall, MD. This was the perfect excuse for a bunch of us to meet up somewhere that wasn't a big city and it's never a bad thing to go to the Eastern Shore. This isn't the Eastern Shore of Ocean City, MD or any of those beach towns up and down the Atlantic Coast. This is the Eastern Shore where you take a quick left after Kent Narrows (instead of the right to Ocean City, hon) and into sprawling farmlands and winding waterways.
I got up to Rock Hall a bit earlier than some of my other friends (who were coming from NYC) in order to get the keys for the cottage we rented for the weekend and get some supplies (water!). I had thought I was going to stop for lunch in Annapolis but once I saw the traffic, I decided to just get through to Rock Hall and find some lunch there. The nice woman at the motel (where I got the keys) recommended that I try the Bay Wolf Restaurant just off the main strip in Rock Hall.
The soup is a hot tomato based soup (like Manhattan Clam Chowder) with some vegetables and is usually spicy. This particular one didn't quite have the heat that I expected but did have plenty of crab and flavor. The seasoning was spot on and the tomato sweetness was just enough to highlight the flavor of the crab meat. The Crab Cake Sandwich didn't look like much when it was put in front of me so I tried the fries first which had this wonderful sea salt sprinkled over them along with a nice crispiness on the outside while being really fluffy on the inside so my initial thought was, "at least the fries were great". Hold that thought. The crab cake did look a little burnt and brimming with filler rather than crab but when you bit into it, it had a nice crunch with plenty of crab meat and plenty of flavor. Serves me right for doubting anything to do with crabs that are served in these parts.
Except that we had to be at Waterman's in about an hour so after a quick round of drinks, we went to the cottage to settle in, drink a touch more and get ready for a night at Waterman's. I wanted to mention here that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of the band. I don't know why but I have no clue what they're called. If you're reading this and you were there please post a comment about their name. So, from now on, I'm just going to call them the band. The band, by the way, was fantastic playing music from Elvis to Chuck Berry to the Temptations. They packed the dance floor all night with fans ranging from the really young (3 yrs old!) to those that probably lived through the times when this music was king.
The fortunate (or maybe unfortunate) part about this is that my friends feel largely the same way. However, this nostalgia was different for all of us and when we ordered food, it became...how do I say this?...a sh*tshow. There were only six of us in total but here's what we ordered (in no particular order): Two dozen steamed large blue crabs, six pieces of corn on the cob, two lbs of steamed shrimp, two orders of Rock Hall Fries, one order of regular fries, one order of nachos grande, one order of a 1/2 rack of BBQ ribs, two softcrab sandwiches, one order of crab dip, two bottles of wine, three pitchers of beer, three hot apple dumplings and one lemonade cake. Whew. In case that didn't make it clear, THERE WAS SO MUCH FOOD. The good thing is that I can't possibly write about all of it so I'm just going to give quick summaries in no particular order.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by the BBQ ribs. They had a nice thick coating of BBQ sauce which was hearty, tangy and sweet. The meat pulled right off the bone, tender and juicy. I didn't think they did anything but seafood but i would take those ribs as a change of pace any day. I don't know who ordered the nachos but they looked like a heart attack so I didn't touch them. Rock Hall Fries are fries made with Old Bay seasoning and covered with scallions, bacon and cheese sauce. What's not to like? Don't eat too many though. Seeing that we were in farm country, the corn was really fresh and really sweet and once it was covered with butter, it was game over.
We, amazingly enough, finished almost all the food and subsequently made the waitress happy with the tip we left. The bill was actually much less than we expected and certainly much less than what the NYC contingent was used to seeing. We had a few more drinks, watched the band finish up their set and there may have been some dancing going on. The highlight of the night could have been when a man in a cowboy hat who looked like he was in his nineties was brought on stage and belted out a Billy Joel tune (I believe it was "You May Be Right") and set the crowd on fire. Also, there may have been some shenanigans with an inflatable pirate but this isn't that type of blog. We eventually did retreat back to the cottage for a few nightcaps and ended the night with some great conversation between some old friends.