- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Turn down the volume.Just a friendly suggestion from a food critic and his family who had an otherwise positive experience at Yellowfin Steak and Fish House, the newest waterfront restaurant and lounge in the Annapolis area.

Yellowfin, on the South River in Edgewater, specializes in steaks, chops and seafood and also has a sushi bar.

General manager Kevin Gersonde unveiled the establishment about eight months ago and in that time has built up a staff that is top-notch and a menu that has his patrons buzzing. A stylish, contemporary interior is complemented by the beautiful backdrop of the river.

However, the wide-open lounge-dining room has one minor glitch: noise. At times, it’s a challenge to hear your server or someone sitting across the table. Hopefully, in time, management will lower the volume of conversation sound.

A large one-sheet menu contains starters and entrees on the front, wine list on the back.

For openers, we went the sushi route with tuna and salmon carpaccio ($8). Thin layers of fish were drizzled with Asian vinaigrette and sprinkled with fresh chives. The sauce was very delicate and let the fresh flavor of the fish shine through. Its subtle flavors really whet the appetite for more.

Attention soup lovers: Try the Drunken Blue Crab ($6), which is a different spin on the traditional vegetable crab soup. It’s a tomato soup done chowder-style with nice chunks of backfin crab, but the surprise is the finish: a hefty splash of whiskey. This is definitely kicking it up a notch. There was so much extra body to the soup because of the spirit.

From about 20 main plates to choose from, I opted for the cioppino ($24). The bowl contained a mini lobster tail, shrimp, clams, mussels, crab, fish and a shrimp rice cake in a saffron-scented tomato broth. The dish was quite delicious but a little light on seafood.

The chef made up for that with the extra-large crab cakes ($27) ordered by my wife. The broiled cakes were served with grilled tomatoes, griddled corn bread and sauteed spinach. The cakes were simply large lumps of sweet crab meat, with little filler to hold them together. The inside was perfectly moist, with just a slight crust on the outside. Absolutely heavenly.

A perfectly prepared 24-ounce porterhouse ($32) is sure to please any meat lover in your party. The Black Angus beef is accompanied with garlic-chived mashed potatoes and wilted spinach.

Other land offerings include a roasted rosemary rack of lamb with sun-dried cranberry demi-glace, garlic-chived mashed potatoes and baby carrots; a 12-ounce pork chop grilled with caramelized apples, bourbon demi-glace, whipped sweet potatoes and wilted spinach.

From the sea, there is, of course, a yellowfin tuna marinated in teriyaki, seared rare and served with a shrimp rice cake and vegetable egg roll; a 12-ounce Caribbean lobster tail stuffed with crab imperial with Jamaican black bean rice and grilled asparagus; and a shrimp and scallop pasta with sauteed peppers, garlic, light tomato cream, with linguini and topped with smoked mozzarella.

Yellowfin offers a grown-up children’s menu (more than just chicken fingers and pasta — which are offered). Grilled salmon, Ancho Mama’s shrimp or grilled chicken are options. All are served with thick potato planks, a beverage and dessert. My daughter ordered the shrimp ($7), which are also on the appetizer menu. Four jumbo shrimp were dredged in light ancho pepper tempura batter. The shrimp were nicely prepared. The tempura batter was a touch greasy — and only lightly seasoned — but they sure made for a special child’s meal.

The service was nearly flawless. We experienced some confusion with the delivery of the crab cake entree, but the house made up for that with a complimentary drink and a hazelnut creme brulee. Creme brulee is the house specialty dessert, and our server, Christine, said it varies from week to week. It was rich, creamy and flavorful — definitely one of the better creme brulees we’ve tasted.

The dessert that came with the child’s meal was a chocolate lover’s dream. A nice wedge of chocolate cake sported chocolate filling and icing, was dressed with mini chocolate chips and garnished with whipped cream. The chocolates were rich and flavorful, and one or all of the components had a nice touch of raspberry to make it even more special.

Yellowfin has made a quick impression on area diners, as it was voted second runner-up for the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s 2003 Diners Choice Award.

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