I Have Crab Cakes

Yes, these were already eaten

One thing that I will never be accused of is being motivated. I don’t mean that I don’t want to succeed, or put the work in to do it. I mean that in the social sense. I’m not a social planner. If there is a party or a event, I’ll go, but only when pushed to do it. It’s not that I don’t like the people I hang out with, I’m just lazy. Put a TV, the Internet and a bowl of chips and salsa in front of me, and I’ll show you want it means to be sedentary.

But this Monday, I was forced out of my element. Gansie had Monday off as a prize for working overtime to plan a conference. For days, we discussed possibilities and settled upon, what else, food. Not just any food, either, destination eating.

Our destination? Jimmy Cantler’s just outside of Annapolis, MD. Anyone reading in DC, it’s only about a 45 minute drive, depending how long it takes you to get to highway 50 East. But eating fresh seafood on a picnic bench by the water truly made it feel like we were on vacation.

This is the point in the blog post where you may feel the urge to write scathing comments…

We didn’t order a bucket of crabs. Sorry. No crab feast for Endless Simmer. Being a son of the South, frankly, they scare me. I like crab and usually enjoy taking a hammer to wild animals like the rest of the eating public, but I stick to crab cakes. You can rest assured, though, if I do ever push my boundaries, you will be the first to hear how many times I hammered my fingers by mistake.

Back to Cantler’s. They have crabs, crabs, and more crabs. They also have 6 kinds of fresh fish cooked 5 different ways. I knew I wanted a crab cake sandwich, and Gansie went with her new-found love, soft-shelled crab. But we wanted something else, and after 10 minutes of semi-embarrassing decision making, settled on a 1/2 pound of jumbo shrimp.

Jumbo Shrimp

The picture might not do them justice, but these were, in fact, JUMBO shrimp. The platter also came with potatoes, onions, and the requisite melted butter and old bay seasoning. They were great, but we had to stop eating them to save room for our crab.

My crab cakes were some of the best I have had, soft, plump, nicely flavored. Couldn’t ask for much more. My one regret is getting the cole slaw over the hush puppies. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Gansie made the right choice and got fries and onion rings as her sides. I didn’t try her soft-shelled crab because, again, they scare me. But she loved it.

Soft-Shelled Crab

Even though I have been in DC for over 6 years now, I can’t claim to be an expert at all when it comes to Chesapeake Seafood. But, for what’s it worth, I highly recommend Jimmy Cantler’s. Maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll actually go back and use a hammer, just like humans were meant to do when they eat.

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  • BS June 26, 2008  

    The one thing I miss absolutely the most about living in the DC/MD area: crabcakes.

  • Lisa June 26, 2008  

    My boyfriend and I recently played hooky from work and went up to Baltimore for crabs (insert snickers here). We went to Obrycki’s, a 50-year-old seafood restaurant in a random part of town, because I’d read good things about it. While I did enjoy hammering my lunch and making a general mess of myself, I have to admit, it’s a whole lotta icky – and a whole lotta money – for not much crab, sweet and delicious as it was. In fact, I heard a waitress tell some other tourists, “You’ll get bored before you get full.” Anyways, just wanted to share my destination dining crab story. Love your blog!

  • JoeHoya June 26, 2008  

    There’s a great old-school crab place just across the Potomac in Rosslyn called Quarterdeck. Their all-you-can-eat crabs are a yearly tradition for my wife and me.

    In fact, she just wrote about a recent visit over at Capital Spice.

  • gansie June 26, 2008  

    nice pimp job for your blog, JH. and i’ve actually been to both quarterdeck and obrycki’s. i’m fairly well versed in crab for only starting to eat shellfish about 5 years ago.

    and, i’d like to talk about that top picture for a second. (a) i took it and (b) those are actually empty crabs. so when 80 and I first got to the place we saw all those crabs lined up and then the table left. and i’m thinking, holy hell, i can’t believe how many crabs they neglected. but then we heard the servers say that they were actually eaten, as everyone was shocked at how orderly the guests left their crabs. the couple sitting next to us joked, that is the definition of culinary OCD.

  • Very Very Good Girll June 28, 2008  

    I love a good soft shell crab sandwich, and I like that they used classic white bread instead of a bun. Thanks to the other commentators… I will attempt to eat crabs/seafood at each restaurant you all mentioned in the next year!!

    If you think you get bored eating crabs try the old school method to catching them – tie a chicken neck to some string, stand in knee deep water, when you feel a tug slowly pull the string in and hope you have the hand-eye coordination to actually scoop the crab. Beware of hungry hermit crabs!

  • Tia June 29, 2008  

    Oh these pictures made me want to rush to the airport, catch a plane & head for this restaurant. Unfortunately the year I turned 30 I also suddenly developed an allergy to shellfish. I shall remember fondly all the lovely crab dinners I ate way back when as I continue to enjoy your shellfish blogs.

  • AlexL July 2, 2008  

    The food at Cantler’s is good, although I think 80 and Gansie made the right choice–the entrees have a better work to enjoyment ratio when compared to the crabs.

    Cantler’s can be an absolute madhouse on the weekends–my family went there last summer and it was a 3 hour wait (we arrived at 5). The parking lot was mobbed with people hanging out and there was an hour wait to park (hellish, given the tiny road that leads to the place).

    We got several buckets of crab, onion rings and corn. It was all quite tasty, but, really, after a few cuts-with-Old-Bay in the them, I really wondered if the 5 hour ordeal surrounding the meal was worth it. I still don’t think it was.

  • DAD GANSIE July 2, 2008  

    neat stuff..sorry woun’t be able to join you in this life time,

    neat pics once again

  • Coonass cook July 10, 2008  

    scared of boiled crab or even soft shell? come on man your a food blogger take a page out of Bourdains book and seize life by the cajones, try everything it wont kill you…..usually that said my personal heaven is an enless Draught of Abita and all you can eat soft shell…..and their never out of season.

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