- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Hidden in the woods of Gambrills, Md., near what once was the U.S. Naval Academy’s dairy farm, Kaufmann’s Tavern is known for its crabs, fresh seafood, steaks, prime rib and burgers.

It is a place where you will see young and old dressed formally and informally.

The waiters are friendly and mostly informed of what the kitchen has to offer.

The menu is made up of traditional American and Chesapeake Bay fare, but if you look closely, you will find a few surprises. The offerings usually are consistent and the portions large.

For the serious crustacean lover, Kaufmann’s serves steamed crabs year-round. An all-you-can-eat special ($32 for adults, $15 for children under 12) is available daily. The special includes endless steamed crabs, vegetable crab soup and homemade cole slaw.

A new outdoor patio with a bar is popular for crab crackers or those looking for a good burger — weather permitting, of course. On Sunday, the outdoor area was filled with football fans watching the Baltimore Ravens-Cincinnati Bengals game on a series of flat-screen TVs. The grounds would have been full of Redskins fans as well had the team not been playing a night game.

The dining room is a little more formal, with wood-paneled walls and nautical decorations.

Starters are predictable but reasonably priced. For something a little different, try the crabby pretzel ($13), a large baked soft pretzel topped with crabmeat and four cheeses and then placed under a broiler. It was like a hot crab dip, only with more emphasis on the bread than the dip. A nice portion of crabmeat — gooey with the cheese — paired very well with the hot, doughy pretzel. The bread balanced out the richness of the topping and made for a nice starter.

Kaufmann’s does well with its crab soups. The Maryland crab soup is the vegetable variety. Cream of crab ($5 a cup) is traditional, with a touch of sherry to finish. The soup had a nice amount of spice and didn’t have that flour taste that comes with many cream soups.

The tavern pays close attention to its patrons who love beef. New York strip and filet mignon are cooked to order, and the prime rib comes in three cuts: English, queen and king.

Prime rib Chesapeake ($24) is the English cut, slow-roasted and topped with rich crab imperial. The meat was very tender and flavorful, cooked to order. The distinct beef flavor was important because the crab imperial was heavy with pimento and easily could have dominated the meal. The crabmeat was generous, and the sauce wasn’t too rich, but the pimento really stood out.

If you are not afraid to get your fingers dirty, barbecued baby back ribs are available.

From the sea, Kaufmann’s offers broiled rockfish, flounder or salmon. The rockfish ($19) was a generous fillet topped with a dollop of garlic butter that was unnecessary — the fish was moist and flavorful on its own.

Salmon ($17) also was expertly prepared, flaky and moist, with a light seasoning that didn’t detract from the natural flavor of the fish.

A large lobster tank is in a corner of the dining room, so guests can order lobsters weighing from 2 to 10 pounds.

Tired broccoli was served with the entrees, along with a house salad with the house dressing (zesty Italian).

From the specials list, there was a Cajun chicken pita: grilled chicken breast baked in spices and served on pita bread with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese with a side of pepper Parmesan.

The shrimp combo included two fried, two steamed, two barbecued and one stuffed shrimp served with a choice of rice, fries or baked potato.

A children’s menu consists of hot dog, hamburger, grilled cheese, pizza, spaghetti, chicken or fried clams or shrimp. All range in price from $3 to $5. Every Tuesday night is children’s night, when everything on the children’s menu is half price.

The jazz brunch every Sunday runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kaufmann’s is taking reservations for a special Thanksgiving meal.

RESTAURANT: Kaufmann’s Tavern, 329 Gambrills Road, Gambrills, Md.; 410/923-2005

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

PRICES: Appetizers, $6 to $13; soups and salads, $4 to $8; sandwiches, $8 to $12; entrees, $17 to $32; all-you-can-eat crabs, $32 (adults), $15 (children under 12)

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: On-site

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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