Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Crews in the Volvo Ocean Race will set sail from Baltimore next week for a four-day stopover in Annapolis.

A sure bet for good eats and a cold brew will be the Boatyard Bar & Grill, located in the Eastport section of the historic city.

The popular sailors’ bar is the official hangout for the Pirates of the Caribbean crew, the only U.S. entry in the 31,250-nautical-mile race.

It is here that you will be able to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s greatest sailors either in the dining room or partying at what is sure to be a jam-packed bar.

“We’re the sailor hangout in these parts. We’re very pleased to be part of this event,” says Boatyard co-owner Dick Franyo.

The Franyos (wife Susan is co-owner) have done a wonderful job creating a fun, lively atmosphere in an open dining room full of nautical treasures from around the Chesapeake Bay and the world.

If you don’t like noise and crowds, this is not your kind of place — at least during Volvo Ocean Race week.

Boatyard keeps it simple: plenty of specialty drinks, beers on tap, appetizers, sandwiches and a couple of interesting entrees.

It’s not just the food, but the atmosphere that make the Boatyard a unique experience.

The changing daily specials sheet contains a few surprises: sesame-seed-crusted tuna, seared rare, chilled and sliced thin; veal scalloppini sauteed and flambeed with sherry wine; a pork loin chop stuffed with andouille sausage; a prime rib of beef oven roasted with a whole-grain mustard rub and carved to order.

A light starter is the Cuban grilled shrimp ($8.95). Citrus-marinated gulf shrimp are char-grilled and served over roasted sweet corn and black-bean salsa.

Great on a hot day with a cold beer, this dish was a perfect study in contrasts. The chilled, crisp veggies in the salsa popped against the warm, succulent shrimp. The citrus, shrimp and corn provided just enough sweetness to balance the cumin and cilantro in the dish.

The Boatyard fish sandwich ($7.95) is a seasonal selection that is pan-seared, lightly seasoned with lemon pepper and served on a kaiser roll with red pepper aioli. This day’s fish was mahi-mahi and was prepared to order; the condiment was a nice change from your ordinary tartar sauce.

As for entrees, house specialties are beer-battered fish and chips, grilled tuna, crab cakes or New York strip steak.

The tuna ($16.95) is grilled to your liking and served with a crisp potato cake, grilled asparagus, and olive-oil-poached grape tomatoes.

The plate is then finished with a balsamic syrup reduction. The fish was grilled expertly, but the balsamic reduction gave it a more ordinary teriyaki taste. The potato cake is an innovative idea, but it was rather greasy — either from its preparation or from the tomato accompaniment.

A delightful twist on the area’s traditional crab offerings is the blue crab sandwich ($9.95). Think tuna melt kicked up a notch — lump blue crab is combined with artichokes, spinach and Parmesan cheese, piled on French bread, then covered with tomato and cheese. It looks deceptively rich, but the artichokes and tomatoes keep it from being overwhelming.

Dessert choices include some pretty standard fare, such as Key lime pie and a chocolate cake, but also push the envelope with dessert nachos ($5.25), which feature raspberry, caramel and chocolate sauces, toasted almonds, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream.

Special this evening was freshly baked coconut cake served with raspberry sorbet and mango sauce. The mango was overpowered by the raspberry sorbet, but the intense raspberry flavor was wonderful with the sweet, moist coconut cake. The sorbet also was available by itself for $4.25. The bread pudding flavor for the evening was chocolate banana.

The boats arrived in Baltimore early last week and are due to arrive in Annapolis May 4 and remain there until May 7. A “welcome to Annapolis” party will be held at 4:30 p.m. May 4 at the City Dock.

The boats sailed into the Chesapeake Bay from Rio de Janeiro. Pirates of the Caribbean, the U.S. entry, is a 70-footer known as Black Pearl. The race kicked off Nov. 6 in Vigo, Spain, and concludes June 17 in Goteborg, Sweden.

RESTAURANT: Boatyard Bar & Grill, 400 Fourth St., Annapolis; 410/216-6206

HOURS: Sunday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 p.m.

PRICES: Soups/salads $4.50 to $10.95; appetizers $3.95 to $18.95; sandwiches $7.25 to $11.95; entrees $10.95 to $22.95; desserts $6.95; breakfast $6.50 to $8.95

RESERVATIONS: Not accepted

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards


ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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