It’s hard to get away from the river if you’re dining out in Havre de Grace-but then, who would want to?
We weren’t exactly on the water, but we had a water view straight out over the Susquehanna River where it meets the Bay at Havre de Grace, Md. If it had been warmer, we could have been sitting outside on the spacious deck with the glow of the sunset on our cheeks-well, if it had been warmer and not raining.
Greg Dekowsky, a volunteer with the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, had insisted on taking us out to dinner-us being Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner, who perform together as Magpie, and myself. The three of us had entertained that afternoon at the museum’s first ever Kid’s Day, and we were scheduled to return in the evening for a concert. But not, Greg had said, until we were rested and well fed. For that, we needed to stop in at MacGregor’s, a fine restaurant perched just a few steps away from the Havre de Grace waterfront.
MacGregor’s dining area is one long room, split lengthwise into two levels so everyone has a fair shot at the full windows on the water side. Duck decoys and ship models lend a regional theme to the place. We were there on a Saturday night and a fair crowd had gathered, but conversation was easy once we were established at a table on the lower floor, and we were oblivious to anyone else. That sense of privacy is hard to find in a crowded restaurant, and it’s one of MacGregor’s many charms. Another is the draft Yuengling lager.
The dinner menu offered us an all-seafood list of appetizers, like the tempting “Angels on Horseback”-oysters wrapped in bacon and fried. Since we were on the tail end of the oyster season and well ahead of the crabs, we opted for the less exotic spicy garlic shrimp, served in a white wine, garlic butter sauce. They were plump and succulent, and plenty to share. Salads (both large and small) are listed a la carte, but we were on a schedule, so we cut to the chase and ordered our entrees.
Among the standards (crabcakes, stir fry, steak), we saw apricot-glazed salmon, lobster fettucini and Seafood MacGregor-an intriguing mix of lobster, shrimp, scallops and mussels served over linguini. I chose flounder stuffed with lump crab and topped with imperial sauce. Crab imperial was missing from the menu, and I thought this would be a good alternative. It was; the fish was moist and the imperial was chock full of fat chunky crab. It may not have come from the Bay, but it was sweet, tender and warmed to perfection by the sauce. On Magpie’s advice, I had swapped the baked potato that normally came with my meal for a helping of Yukon gold mashed potatoes with chives. They were stiff but creamy, and flecked with pieces of skin and chives. Normally, I find myself slathering butter on my potatoes, regardless of how they’re presented. These needed nothing but a fork.
Greg D. went for one of the day’s specials: scallops on a bed of linguini. It was ample and it was tasty, he said, but he kept eyeing the grilled salmon on Terri’s plate. That may have been the winner for the evening. It was a rosy fillet of salmon, served with sesame spinach, enoki mushrooms and fried rice. The apricot glaze gave it a tangy finish and complemented the flavor of the fish without overpowering it.
Then came the dessert tray: triple chocolate mousse, apple crisp a la mode, chocolate pecan pie, carrot cake and a devilish creation dubbed the Dark Side of the Moon-triple chocolate cake slathered with mousse icing. To smell was to taste, and I could feel my thighs swell at the thought of a single bite. Greg D. looked at his watch. Time to skedaddle, he said. Rats!
I have yet to sample even one of those delectable delights. But there’s another concert coming up, and I may just have to risk my golden throat on a slice of that the triple moussy thing or a soupcon of the dark side of the moon. I can’t imagine a more delightful way to end a day than by letting a little chocolate roll around on my tongue as I watch the water go by.
MacGregor’s is at 331 St. John Street, about four blocks up from Tidewater Marina and about a mile from the Havre de Grace Yacht Basin at Tydings Park. No docking is permitted in front of the restaurant. MacGregor’s is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. (brunch) to 10 p.m. Lunch runs from $6 to $12; appetizers $7 to $10; entrees $15 to $23. Credit cards are accepted. 800-300-6319.