- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Real Seafood Co. recently opened up shop at the new Annapolis Towne Centre, and its menu, as the name stresses, is chock-full of seafood plates.

From the raw bar, oyster varieties vary based on quality and availability. One choice was Choptank sweets ($11.95 a half-dozen), oysters from the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore which is growing in popularity. The oysters were plump and fresh, and served ice cold. A spicy dipping sauce in addition to traditional cocktail sauce added variety.

The menu usually lists three varieties of the bivalves, and there is a sampler option to try two of each.

Other starters included Point Judith calamari, flash-fried and served with saffron aioli or flash-fried and tossed with sauteed banana and cherry peppers.

Coconut-crusted fried shrimp, salt and pepper tuna, and hot rocks - fried rock shrimp tossed in sauce - are other choices for starters.

Also, there is a fresh sushi bar or a half-dozen salads to choose from.

The kitchen features a variety of fresh-catch fish every day. Broiled, grilled, blackened or Shanghai style, Real Seafood touts that it is always the freshest at the market that day.

Grilled rockfish ($24.95) was cooked plain (no sauce), and is served with one side, and the sauteed spinach was over-salted. The dish was good but not overwhelming.

The chef’s features change weekly; on a recent night it was a mustard-crusted Scottish salmon ($22.95). A generous portion of salmon was cooked to flaky perfection. The mustard crust had a wonderful sweet-tart tang to it, which complemented the mild fish but did not overpower it. Fried leeks added an interesting crunch to the meal.

Baked stuffed flounder ($24.95) was two small fillets wrapped around a generous portion of lump crabmeat. The crab was the star in this dish, with a light sauce that was not too rich and really allowed the flavor of the crab to shine through. Unfortunately, the flounder seemed bland compared to the crab.

Parmesan-crusted sole ($24.95) with lemon-caper sauce came resting on white sticky rice. The fillet was nice in size and arrived piping hot but the crust was a disappointment as it, too, was very salty, and the flavor of the frying oil seemed to overwhelm the dish. The waitress said this was one of the restaurant’s most popular plates, so maybe it was just a bad night.

Whole Maine lobster was also featured; $19.95 for a steamed 1 1/4-pounder. They came to the table in buckets, and the server did most of the work in getting to the meat.

Sandwiches include a blackened rockfish; Cape Cod lobster roll; grilled chicken club or a half-pound burger.

Desserts are made fresh upstairs, in Real Seafood’s sister restaurant, the Chop House. Offerings were cheese cake, coconut cream pie, Key lime pie and chocolate brandy mousse. New York-style cheesecake was rich and creamy, with a smooth texture and perfect traditional flavor. Coconut cream pie ($5.95) was properly made, bursting with coconut, both in the creamy and flavorful filling and toasted on top.

RESTAURANT: Real Seafood Co., 1915 Towne Center Blvd., Annapolis, 888/456-3463

HOURS: Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (open noon on Sundays)

PRICES: Dinner: soups and salads $3.95 to $14.95; sandwiches $8.95 to $15.95; appetizers $6.95 to $11.95; sushi $2.95 to $9.95; entrees $13.95 to $29.95; desserts $5.95

RESERVATIONS: Recommended

PARKING: On-site

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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