Bay Bites
Middleton Tavern:
Warm Old Friend to All Comers
by Gabby Crabcakes

This week, my companion and I strolled the Annapolis side streets to view the May Day baskets adorning homes in the Historic District. As a tribute to this rite of spring, we ended our tour at Middleton Tavern.

Arriving for a late lunch at 2:30pm, we found the joint jumping. Porch seating, with its view of City Dock and Ego Alley, was jammed (if you don't mind waiting, this is a great place to people watch). However, our focus was on our stomachs and the need to fill them.

Middleton's Oyster Bar was the answer.

The Oyster Bar offers the same menu as Middleton's other dining rooms (including the piano bar upstairs) with a variety of steaks, seafood, traditional favorites and daily specials. Whether you're craving Chateaubriand for two ($49.95), lump crabcakes (market priced on this day at $22.95), linguini pescatore (half-order $12.95, full $23.95) or a classic Reuben sandwich ($8.75), it's one-stop shopping.Middleton Tavern

Colonial Annapolis breakfast is served Saturday 10am to 1pm and Sunday 10am to 2pm, so we missed the steak and eggs (your choice of sirloin, filet, or New York strip $7.95, $10.95 or $12.95) and the creamed chipped beef on buttermilk biscuits ($5.95).

We settled in with a drink and an appetizer. It's a difficult decision when you're faced with such equally appealing options as crab dip made with jumbo lump, cream and cheddar cheeses ($8.95); a generous bucket of steamed mussels in white wine and garlic ($5.95); and oysters Savannah ($6.95), a special that day of freshly shucked oysters on the half shell baked with peppers, butter and spices. We ordered crab balls ($11.95).

Never sure what's coming with crab balls, we were happy to see six golf ball-sized cakes sizzling in a chaffing dish accompanied by lemon, crackers and both tartar and cocktail sauce. The portion was larger than a single cake; the balls were full of crab chunks.

For our entrees, I got creative. Eggs Benedict was on the daily special list ($6.95), but I'm not a big fan of ham. On previous visits I have had side orders of Middleton's creamed spinach ($3.50), which is very good. Could the kitchen substitute spinach for ham, making eggs Florentine? They were happy to prepare a special dish. Served with thick golden French fries and a delicate drizzle of hollandaise, two poached eggs sat upon dollops of creamed spinach and toasted English muffins. I was happy.

My companion deliberated between the waterman sandwich - roast beef, black forest ham and smoked turkey grilled with horseradish, slaw and Swiss cheese on pumpernickel ($9.95) - and the daily catch sandwich, breaded flounder with tartar sauce and French fries ($10.95). Our waiter recommended the flounder. A large piece of fish sticking out of both sides of the roll was lightly battered and fried just right. A good choice.

Service at Middleton Tavern is friendly and considerate, though at times forgetful - a minor lapse considering the volume and the fact that we weren't watching a clock.

Always a favorite with tourists, Middleton Tavern is a warm old friend to locals as well.

One word of advice: whether you enter the main door or at the bar's side entrance, if you want to sit at a table, be sure to check with the hostess first. If you seat yourself, you're sure to be moved in good time.


City Dock Annapolis 410/263-3323

Proprietor: Jerry Hardesty

Reason to Go: A favorite taste of history.

Something to Think About: The waiting is the hardest part.

| Issue 18 |

Volume VII Number 18
May 6-12, 1999
New Bay Times

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