- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

For lovers of lump crabmeat, Jerry’s Seafood is quite the catch.Located in a small shopping center in Seabrook, the seafood house — that’s all there is on the menu — has built up a very loyal customer base over the years. I have always heard and read good things about it, but last week was my first visit.

A glance at the menu might make you think the prices are on the high side for a restaurant not by the sea, but in a shopping center. However, be assured that the portions are enormous, especially the amount of lump crabmeat that comes with a variety of plates.

The wonderful jumbo lump crabmeat that Jerry’s uses comes from Venezuela, not the Chesapeake Bay, according to co-owner Philip Gainey.

However, it tasted every bit as good as crabmeat from the Bay. You won’t be able to tell a difference in the “Eastern Shore-style” preparation of the food.

The vegetable crab soup ($7.25 a cup) is hearty in vegetables and has just the right bite. A heaping handful of lump crabmeat (not just three or four lumps) tops off the cup, which then is sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning.

The same is true of the crab bisque ($7.25). The soup was smooth and rich and bursting at the seams with jumbo lump.

There’s also a cream of crab soup that is creamy and rich, with a hint of spice. All soups are made fresh daily from family recipes.

Other starters include the crab casino. Crab is baked with a mixture of Swiss cheese, bacon and garlic, then served with garlic toast. If you’re a fan of shrimp, you can order large steamed shrimp by the pound or get beer-battered shrimp that are lightly battered and fried, served on a skewer.

Speaking of the batter, Jerry’s lightly batters its fried offerings and cooks them in soybean oil. The flavor is unique, and the coating is so light that from a distance, you might think the seafood was broiled.

The house salad is standard, but the crab or shrimp variety helps elevate the offering a notch.

As for the specialty of the house, the plate that made Jerry’s famous is the Crab Bomb ($33.95). Ten ounces of jumbo lump crab is seasoned lightly with Old Bay and baked to a golden brown. The outside is just slightly crispy, which provides a nice contrast to the rest of the succulent crabmeat. It’s a crab lover’s delight, as you taste crab, crab and more crab. The only way to describe it is “wow.” The Baby Bomb, a 6-ounce version, is available for those with smaller appetites.

The jumbo fried shrimp ($30.95) are butterflied and lightly battered. These six jumbos were very fresh shrimp.

Crab imperial is crab blended with a creamy caper mixture, then baked. There also are scallops, oysters and the catch of the day, such as tuna or salmon.

The Mariners Platter includes a crab cake, shrimp, oysters and scallops, all lightly fried.

All entrees are served with warm rolls and butter and your choice of two side dishes: baked potato, fries, vegetable of the day, house salad, coleslaw, stewed tomatoes or applesauce.

There is a respectable wine, beer and mixed drink menu, as well.

All of the menu items are available for carryout.

Jerry’s seats about 90. The interior walls are adorned with items typically found at a seafood house, but fishermen and non-fishermen will be impressed with the huge hammerhead shark and blue marlin trophies — each on its own wall.

There is a no-reservations policy, so waits on a summer weekend can top an hour. During the week, the staff says, show up early or late or expect to wait.

There are a dozen or so chairs outside the restaurant where you can peruse a menu and wait for your name to be called.

Once you’re inside, the waiters and kitchen aim to please — and best of all, the food is cooked while you wait, so it is always hot.

Yes, there really is a Jerry. In 1974, he started in the food business by selling oysters out of the back of a ‘68 Chevy in the same shopping center that is home to Jerry’s. In 1976, he purchased a 10-foot-long step van complete with a three-burner stove and refrigerator. From the crab truck he sold steamed crabs, spiced shrimp, clams and oysters, and business took off.

Jerry took over the Village Pub, which he purchased in 1983, and it has been Jerry’s Seafood since then. He and three generations of his family have been taking care of the business.

RESTAURANT: Jerry’s Seafood, 9364 Lanham-Severn Road, Seabrook; 301/577-0333

HOURS: lunch, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner, 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, until 9:30 p.m. Friday and 11:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

PRICES: Soups, salads $5.75 to $13.95; appetizers $13.95 to $24; sandwiches $9.95 to $13.95; entrees $15.95 to $33.95

RESERVATIONS: None

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: On-site

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible (except restrooms)

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