- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 8, 2001

If you love oysters and other seafood delicacies and are looking for a night-out that won't break the bank, McGarvey's Saloon and Oyster Bar is a must-visit at City Dock in downtown Annapolis.
Steamed mussels, shrimp, clams and oysters raw or steamed are served daily. The casual atmosphere makes it a prime meeting place for friends to relax at one of the two wooden bars or sit at one of the many quaint tables nearby and enjoy a beverage along with bar food items, salads, sandwiches or dinner entrees.
McGarvey's touts an extensive line of beers on tap and in the bottle, including Aviator amber lager, which originally was made exclusively for the saloon's owner, Mike Ashford. There's also a full selection of fine wines.
Upon entering the saloon, you are greeted by one of the many staffers and immediately notice the charming and historic high tin ceilings, dark wood, brick walls and belt-driven ceiling fans.
After being seated at a table near one of the long wooden bars, we ordered pints of beer. The house brand seemed the natural choice. It was light and tasty but not as cold as we would prefer.
For food starters, we ordered oysters on the half shell ($6.25 per half dozen) and steamed mussels with white wine sauce ($3), a special that day.
The oysters were almost perfect specimens, fresh, tasty morsels served with cocktail sauce and fresh horseradish. The mussels special was a steal a plate full of perfectly steamed mussels, in a white wine sauce that delicately highlighted the seafood, rather than overpowering it like so many mussel accompaniments do.
With oysters now in season, McGarvey's kicked off their oyster happy hour this week. Oysters are a very tempting $3 per dozen Monday through Friday (except holidays) from 4 to 8 p.m.
For the main event, I ordered the Southern-style catfish ($7.95). A huge catfish filet breaded with cornmeal and hot spices served with remoulade sauce and cottage fries. It was quite good.
My wife ordered one of the day's dinner specials, grilled mahi-mahi ($16.95). The fish was stuffed with spinach, crab and shiitake mushrooms and napped with a shrimp cream sauce. It was a unique taste treat. The mild flavor of the flaky mahi-mahi was really enhanced by the spinach and mushrooms. The sauce also included a generous portion of small shrimp for a finishing touch.
Other dinner specials included McGarvey's gumbo ($10.95), which includes chicken, pork, crawfish, andouille and gator sausages, vegetables and herbs simmered in a zesty broth; grilled homestyle pork chops ($11.95) with sauteed onions, mashed red potatoes and rosemary gravy; fettuccini and white clam sauce ($10.95) with garlic bread.
The menu also lists several steak and burger choices and, of course, Maryland crab cakes (market price).
Lunch offerings included Maryland oyster stew ($5.95); portobello grilled cheese sandwich ($6.95) with melted Swiss and fire-roasted tomato with a cucumber salad on the side; grilled duck breast salad ($9.95) with fresh baby greens, pecans, cranberries and hearts of palm finished with an orange vinaigrette; and a New Mexican cheese steak ($8.50), which is a marinated skirt steak with Monterey Jack cheese, grilled onions, green chilies and a Southwest ranch dressing served on a fresh-made hoagie roll.
For dessert, usual offerings include key lime pie and, for the season, pumpkin cheesecake ($3.50). The Aviator chocolate marquise ($3.95) is McGarvey's signature dessert a beautiful round of delicate layers of chocolate torte and chocolate mousse, covered in a chocolate ganache. Its smaller size a lightness yes, chocolate can be light make it a must-have dessert, even after a big meal.
At brunch, the steak and eggs platter is a favorite; along with an Old Bay-laced bloody mary, it's the perfect way to start a lazy Sunday morning.
Don't be in a hurry when you visit this classic American saloon. There's always a crowd, especially on weekends, but the waiters do a great job in accommodating customers.
Daily specials can be found on the Internet at www.mcgarveyssaloon.com.

RESTAURANT: McGarvey's Saloon and Oyster Bar, 8 Market Space, Annapolis; 410/263-5700
PRICES: Light fare $2 to $7.95; salads $5.95. to $10.95; sandwiches $5.95 to $10.95; entrees $10.95 to $22.95
HOURS: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner 6 to 11 p.m.; bar open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. Sunday until 2 a.m.
CREDIT CARDS: American Express, MasterCard and Visa
PARKING: Street and garage parking nearby
ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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