The weather on the Chesapeake Bay is sultry in the summer. It reminds me of college, baseball in Baltimore and crabs; specifically, the Callinectes sapidus variety of crab, more commonly known as the Atlantic blue crab. The ritual in these parts is to grab wood mallets, sit at tables covered with brown paper and smash the shells of these steamed shellfish. Invariably, the critters are coated with Old Bay seasoning. Your hands will smell like celery salt for days, and your lips will burn a little.
That's the sensation one experiences after a particularly excellent representation of this mid-Atlantic tradition in Arnold, Maryland, right on the bay, just north of Annapolis.
The Point Crab House leases its restaurant space from the Ferry Point Marina on Mill Creek in the Chesapeake Bay. The significance of this is that the marina has a small park area with three stone tables and benches that serve as The Point Crab House's waiting area. You can go to the bar and take drinks to the park, and you can light a cigar and smoke it in the park.
The Point Crab House is arguably the best place in the state to sit down at a table covered in brown paper and dig into those blue-now-turned-orange crabs. My dinner party arrived at about 5:30 p.m. and there was already more than an hour wait. We didn't really care and neither did many revelers who were on boats parked at slips in the marina.
Fortunately, one of the stone tables became available. We grabbed it. The occupants of the two other tables were already drinking and smoking Ashton cigars. No ashtrays, no overstuffed leather chairs, no single-malt menu and no further prompting required.
I had a variety of Ashton and Padrón cigars, mostly robustos, in my pocket and handed them out to the smokers. The weather was unseasonably mild: temperature in the low 80s with a slight breeze off the water. In other words, perfect. We drank our cocktails and smoked our cigars and retrieved some appetizers. By the time we got the crab dip and the mussels in garlic butter, the pager lit up and our table was ready. The tables at The Point sit under a roof with garage-like doors open on the side of the marina. Presumably, the doors are closed in the winter, but the restaurant is open year-round.
We tried the cornbread with chipotle butter and some wings with Old Bay seasoning. We ordered a dozen medium crabs. Anything larger was gone already. Each of us then ordered entrées. I got the huge crab cakes, more like baseballs of lump meat with just a little binder. Among the best I've had. My friend opted for the tuna tacos—also great. Others got salads with crab cakes on top and there was even one BLT in the mix. Dessert was out of the question at the moment, though they did look good on other tables.
We considered another drink and cigar at the park, but the tables were occupied. We got in the car and started back to Washington D.C. Then, of course, we decided to detour to Annapolis to get some ice cream.
Cigars, blue crabs and toasted coconut ice cream. A summer night's dream on the Chesapeake.
The Point Crab House
700 Mill Creek Rd.
Arnold, MD 21012