502 West Main Street, Salisbury, Maryland, 410-677-6757
We hit Brew River for lunch on a Saturday in February, Clint and I. We were seated at a spacious booth built about a foot above floor level, which enabled us to look over the heads of the rest of the diners and see out the huge windows to the river. Sunlight fairly danced across the water, and seagulls perched in neat rows on the rooftop of the old brick warehouse on the opposite shore. Every now and then they would lift off en masse, pour across the sky in a tumult of feathers, shake themselves out and resettle on the rooftop: seagull musical chairs, no doubt. It was noisy enough where we were sitting that we couldn’t hear their music.
Brew River offers three spacious inside dining areas plus a bar with plenty of additional table seating (and a couple of big screen TVs). In season, diners can opt for the riverside deck. More casual guests have been spotted basking on the lower bar deck in their bathing gear. This spring, look for a new tiki bar to open.
We perused the menu, half expecting to find a chicken theme-after all, Salisbury is the chicken capital of Delmarva and the Perdue packing plant is just across the street. What we found instead is fairly standard in these parts: a few beef selections, a few of chicken and a whole raft of seafood, any kind, any way. Our waitress cited the crabcake and the prime rib au jus as being the most popular items on the list. We took her word for it-especially as we watched tray after tray of plump, nicely browned crabcakes march past us, headed for other tables.
We began with an appetizer of hot creamy crab dip served with warm tortilla chips. The chef could have been more generous with the sherry, we agreed, but the dip was delicately spiced and didn’t overpower the crab. The helping was more than enough for two (Clint had already consigned himself to this as his primary luncheon fare, and he wasn’t sorry). It was pure, unadulterated, stick-to-your-ribs cholesterol, but what the hey: We were only going to eat out once today.
I ordered a bowl (one size only, I was told) of Maryland-style crab soup. This was a disappointment. It had all the right parts, but in the wrong proportion. The soup was fairly brimming with vegetables, and the tomato base had the right zest, but we found very little crab. Blame it on the time of year, we decided. Meanwhile, the sandwich I had ordered was pure delight. It was called Country Chicken on the menu: a grilled chicken breast, topped with a slice of succulent ham and a layer of mild cheddar cheese. The honey-mustard dressing (a house recipe) was the perfect complement. The sandwich was served on a toasted roll with French fries (good French fries!) and a garnish of lettuce and tomato. It might not have overwhelmed a more ravenous pair of diners, but we happily split it between us. Already fortified with the crab dip and the soup, I wasn’t sorry to share. Besides, I keep one eye on the dessert menu at all times, and I knew what my future held.
The dessert menu offered chocolate-fudge cake, cheesecake, bread pudding and a little something neither of us had ever seen before. It was called Apple Cinnamon Crispito and it came to us in a shallow bowl laced with caramel: two crunchy pastries filled with hot apple and cinnamon, and two generous scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Our appetites sated, we proceeded to ply the waitress with questions: Do a lot of boats come in here? Not too many, she said, but she admitted to having only begun her job in August and could have missed the height of the boating traffic. Reservations required for docking? Nope, she said, and furthermore, it’s courtesy dockage all-round for diners. She indicated the entire sweep of waterfront surrounding the restaurant, which included a fair amount of bulkhead and a couple of actual slips. There are no amenities at the docks, however; for those, boaters should stop next door at the Port of Salisbury Marina.
The Wicomico is long and scenic. A county launching ramp sits right across from Brew River, next to the waterfront Shore Stop. But if we didn’t want to bring our boat all the way up-river or splash it in Salisbury, our waitress told us that we could rent one of several personal watercraft available through Brew River. Clint and I left with the feeling that this will probably be a pretty happening place come the zephyrs of spring.
BrewRiver is located directly on the WicomicoRiver in Salisbury. Dockage for diners is free and is available on a first come-first serve basis. Overnight dockage is available next door at the Port of Salisbury Marina (410-548-3176; 7-foot depth). Hours: Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. for dining, bar open till 2 a.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Lunch $5.99–$13.99; appetizers $5.99–$11.99; dinner entrees $11.99–$22.99; Sunday brunch (a la carte only) $4.99–$9.99. Major credit cards accepted.