Harrison's Chesapeake House
by Gabby Crabcakes
Tilghman Island, a quiet fishing village one hour from the Bay Bridge, is home to the institution known as Harrison's Chesapeake House.
For over 100 years, the Harrison family has owned and operated this complex, which arranges everything from charter fishing excursions to weddings. In addition to three sprawling dining rooms are a dark smoky bar, a pub, a large waterside deck bar, several porches, a gift shop, a swimming pool, unadorned guest rooms and a pier that leads you straight to the horizon. The focal point, and one of the reasons for the continued success of Harrison's, is its idyllic location with postcard views of the Chesapeake Bay and a fleet of Bay-built fishing boats for intimate access.
Nothing's fancy at Harrison's; the atmosphere is fisherman-and family-friendly. Little has changed over the years, including the home-spun hospitality and self-described "no apologies, lots of butter" country cooking - one of the other reasons that folk keep coming back.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner will tempt you with a variety of hearty rich foods. The fisherman's breakfast buffet will energize you for a day on the Bay with pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, fruit, toast, biscuits, juice and coffee ($8).
Buffets are very popular at Harrison's. During oyster season (sorry, it just ended) you can get as many servings as you can stomach of fried, frittered, stewed, raw, Creole and sautéed bivalves, along with a full array of accompaniments such as stewed tomatoes (deliciously sweet), coleslaw, macaroni and cheese and fruit cocktail. ($21.95)
If self-serve isn't your idea of dining out, the dinner menu is full of local favorites such as crab imperial ($17.95), scallops au gratin ($15.95), or crab and shrimp Norfolk (sautéed in butter and wine for $16.95). The house special is a chicken surf and turf ($19.95), which features a jumbo piece of good and greasy fried chicken along with two large fried crab cakes (I've requested broiled on several occasions, but they always arrive fried).
Your sides are served family style. Depending on the number in your group, large- or medium-sized bowls arrive filled with creamy sweet coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, lima beans, stewed tomatoes and warm rolls and butter. If you need more, just ask. My strategy is usually to enjoy the side dishes and one crab cake while reserving the rest for a doggy bag.
If meat is more to your liking, prime rib comes in both queen ($12.95-12 ounces) and king cut ($15.95-16 ounces). Or try a filet mignon ($16.95).
For the "Little Anglers" (children under 12) there's a nice selection that includes an entree, fries, applesauce and a beverage for anywhere from $2.95 (hot dog) to $7.95 (crab cake).
Try to save room for some of the homemade pie. The recipes have been handed down and are just like Grandma used to make. The blueberry a la mode is a real winner!
Harrison's is a world apart from the chi-chi restaurants in St. Michael's. When that's what you want, go to Harrison's for the down-home country cooking and friendly atmosphere.
Harrison's Chesapeake House
Tilghman Island ·410/886-2121
Proprietor: Capt. Buddy Harrison
Reason to go: A beautiful spot to get away from it all.
Something to think about: It's a long drive.
| Issue 17 |
Volume VII Number 17
April 29 - May 5, 1999
New Bay Times
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