- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Many locals think of Memorial Day weekend as the official start of the steamed-crab feasting season.

At this time of year, crab prices at market are high — and if you don’t want to deal with the mess at home, a trip to one of the area’s traditional crab houses is an event diners young and old should experience at least once a summer.

The area’s crab houses are wonderful meeting places for family and friends. One such is the Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House in Stevensville, Md., a small Queen Anne’s County community about five miles south of the Bay Bridge (first exit off Route 50).

The waterfront restaurant, founded in 1954, is operated by Dave and Tammy Harper.

Its sunset views of the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis alone are worth the trip, but they’re backed up by a menu that offers something for everyone.

Reservations are recommended if you want to guarantee a spot in the open dining room, which faces the Bay. Outside, a handful of picnic tables are offered.

The kitchen steams not only crabs but also clams, oysters and shrimp.

As a starter, a dozen littleneck clams ($7.50) served with drawn butter were pleasing to the palate, sweet and very tender.

Other notable appetizers included shrimp sauteed in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. The hot crab dip, a popular house recipe, is full of jumbo lump crabmeat and served with lemon, warm rolls and crackers.

Three homemade crab soups are available: cream of crab, vegetable crab, and half and half.

Cream of crab ($6.99) follows the traditional recipe, smooth and creamy, with a generous portion of crab. There was little spice and no hint of sherry, but the soup stands well on its own. The half and half ($5.99) is an interesting twist: It is literally cream of crab soup ladled into a dish of vegetable crab soup.

The vegetable crab soup had more spice and a nice assortment of fresh vegetables. Claw meat added variety. Because the cream of crab is so much milder, its flavor was lost in the half and half, but it added a unique creaminess and interest.

Another house specialty, the broiled crab cake sandwich ($13.99), was served on a soft potato roll and accompanied by coleslaw and a pickle. The cake was bursting with crabmeat (very little binder) and was melt-in-the-mouth good.

The soft-shell crab sandwich ($16.99) sported two nice-size crabs on potato bread. The crabs were sweet and plump and expertly prepared — crisp on the outside but still moist on the inside. For those whose appetites aren’t quite so hearty, a single-crab sandwich also is available.

The grilled tuna sandwich ($8.49) was a mouthful, a 6-ounce tuna steak, lightly marinated, cooked to order and served with a light remoulade.

Crabs.

We have to talk about the crabs.

Steamed crustaceans available the evening we went were brought in from Texas.

Large males were priced at $48 per dozen, medium males at $36 per dozen.

The crabs were heavy, and the meat was almost as sweet as that of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. The J.O. seasoning made them finger-licking good.

Kentmorr also offers an “all you can eat” meal (when available, at market price). It includes steamed crabs, corn on the cob, a half pound of shrimp, a bowl of vegetable crab soup and an order of coleslaw. There is a two-hour time limit.

For the fan of fried seafood, a combination included a crab cake, soft-shell crab, flounder filet and three jumbo shrimp.

For meat lovers, a number of half-pound burgers are available. The Kentmorr house burger is topped with fried onions, apple-wood-smoked bacon and a choice of cheese.

Several cuts of prime rib are available for dinner Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

After crabs and entrees, dessert wasn’t an option — but the dessert choices sound as homey good as the rest of the menu: cheesecake, St. Croix rum cake, banana cream pie, warm apple dumpling, chocolate brownie sundae, Delmarvelous mud pie, Grand Marnier custard and several flavors of soft-serve ice cream.

RESTAURANT: Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House, 910 Kentmorr Road, Stevensville, Md.; 410/643-2263

HOURS: Open daily 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

PRICES: Soups/salads $4.99 to $7.99, appetizers $6.99 to $15.99, sandwiches $6.50 to $12.50, pastas $10.99 to $19.99, entrees $12.99 to $26.99, crabs at market price

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: On-site

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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