Issue: November 2005
Taste of the Season

The Fisherman’s Inn on Kent Island has the view, the food and the spirit-any time of year.

 

     Winter had us by the jugular. Snow swirled in the gusty wind. Cold had seeped into our bones. And worse, Paul and I were driving. Had been for more than an hour, heading back to the Western Shore after a weekend at the beach. We were tired, we were hungry, and we weren’t looking forward to Monday. So when we finally reached the Kent Island Narrows, we were more than ready to stop for a bite to eat at the Fisherman’s Inn. We’d heard people rave about the inn’s cream of crab soup. And they had a fireplace. Both sounded pretty good right about now.

     Fisherman’s Inn is spacious and open, lavishly decorated with carved decoys, walls of oyster plates on display, framed duck prints and huge scale models of the J.T. Leonard and the Pride of Baltimore. A model train courses overhead on a track suspended just below the ceiling. Wide windows look southwest over Prospect Bay to Kent Island. As we were seated (farther than we would have liked from the fireplace), the dying winter sun had turned the western sky to the deepest turquoise as the last flakes of snow drifted on the breeze. In moments the sky was dark, and the windows mirrored the dining room, including the fire crackling in the corner. It brought the flames to our elbows and we felt pleasantly warm-and hungry.

     Winter means oysters on the half shell, which we ordered without a glance at the menu (a place like this, you know they’ll have oysters every way to Sunday). Perusing the menu then, we also decided to try the oysters Queen Anne: plump little morsels baked with artichoke hearts, lump crab and cheddar cheese-a wealth of flavor in a light sauce. We also got a cup of that cream of crab soup, which was as elegant as we’d been led to expect-rich and creamy, but not so thick that you could stand your spoon in it (I don’t like the cream of crab gravy that passes as soup in some spots). I would have liked to add a splash of sherry, but was otherwise quite happy to savor every spoonful.

     For our main course, we could have had just about any seafood imaginable from imported lobster to local rockfish. Shrimp, scallops, flounder, crab and oysters were the main players. And there were plenty of prime rib and seafood combos-as well as a good assortment of steaks. On the casual side of the menu we saw Caesar salad offered with just about any accompaniment (including fried oysters) and an intriguing classic fisherman’s shellfish cioppino-like a seafood stew, with the shells on. I chose the crabcake and fried oyster combo; Paul selected one of the night’s specials, Fish-in-a-Bag. The crabcake (broiled) and oysters were predictable, but fair; I hadn’t thought to request my oysters sauteed instead of deep fried, and I regretted the oversight. The special was just that: a delightful mix of sweet peppers, rock shrimp and mahi mahi steamed in a coconut curry sauce. It was nicely presented (Paul even got to open the bag) and not overwhelming. No doggie bags for us, and yes, we still had room for dessert: chocolate decadence slathered with raspberry goo and a piece of low tide mudslide pie (an ice cream concoction, but we didn’t mind the chill in the least).

     By the time we left-having taken the time to look at all the oyster plates and really eyeball the boat models-the weather had calmed down significantly, making the rest of our drive considerably safer. With full bellies we were happier, too, and waiting for a real shift in the weather. We’d like to check out Fisherman’s Inn during crab season, too.

     Fisherman’s Inn is located on the southeast side of Kent Narrows, the farthest restaurant away from the bridge. It’s within walking distance of any of the Kent Narrows marinas (pedestrians from the west side of the Narrows should cross on the old bridge, staying clear of Route 50). Free dockage for diners is available first-come-first-served at the Fisherman’s Crab Deck next door. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Lunch $8–$15; appetizers $6–$12; soups and salads $4–$6; entrees $13–$30; casual fare $7–$16. Major credit cards accepted. 410-827-8807.