Counting the railcars over dinner at the Tidewater Grille in Havre de Grace made a good meal even better.
When Clint and I had the opportunity to dine at the Tidewater Grille in downtown Havre de Grace, Md., we expected (and got) a good dinner. What we didn’t expect was the mesmerizing vista that lies beyond the wide windows. The restaurant sits at the mouth of the Susquehanna River. Of course we could watch the water go by, and all the boats; that’s always interesting enough. But there’s a broad green space that sits between the restaurant and the water’s edge (for the geese, we were told), and on this particular night it was aswirl with playful children and quiet couples wandering along the waterside. Beyond them, far across the Flats was the green headland of Perry Point Neck aglow in the fading sunset. And best of all, just a scooch to our left, a train trestle ran across the river, every now and then carrying a long string of railroad cars headed to the freight yards of Baltimore or Philadelphia. This was a big deal for us shorebirds who don’t get to watch trains go by anymore (and there were two separate runs before our meal was done).
Although there was outside seating on the deck, we chose to head indoors. We had not made reservations (oops), but we waited in the small taproom just off the main dining area and were called to our table not long after our cocktails had appeared. The hostess seated us in a broad, open room with plenty of space between tables and plenty of opportunity to gaze out those tantalizing windows.
The menu was blissfully straightforward: two pages long, with half a dozen appetizers, eight seafood dishes and five meat entrees to choose from. I was wavering between the crabcakes and the shellfish linguine Alfredo; Clint was headed toward the loin lamb chop. But when our waitress appeared, she rattled off a list of specials that were far more interesting than what the main menu had to offer. The specials change quite a bit, she told us, depending on what foods are in season and the whims of the chef. We were left to agonize further over our decision, while she fetched our appetizers: a helping of fresh grilled kielbasa, served with cajun mustard and French bread (now that was different!), and a plate of savory steamed mussels.
Clint ultimately chose the tuna with crab and fresh hollandaise (the chef makes it from scratch, we were told). It arrived, topped with a tantalizing sprinkle of crab and a hearty dollop of sauce, and flaked at the touch of his fork. The crab heightened the overall effect without “confusing things,” he said. I opted for the crab-stuffed soft crabs (redundant maybe, but I can never get enough crab). I got two of them, medium-size, and they were wonderful. I didn’t lick the plate, but only because I was able to get most of it up with my fork.
We rounded things off with a couple of cups of delightful decaf and hoped for another train. Counting boxcars works wonders for the digestion.
The Tidewater Grille is at 300 Franklin Street in Havre de Grace. It sits off the road, directly on the waterfront (in front of MacGregor’s). There is no dockage available, but it is walking distance from the town’s marinas, albeit a hike from TydingsPark on the other end of town. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lunch $6.95–$12.95; appetizers $2.95–$11; dinner $15.95–$24.95 (specials priced daily). Weekend reservations recommended. Major credit cards accepted. 410-939-3313.