O'Leary's Seafood Restaurant
Fine dining with creative dishes and really fresh fishes
by Gabby Crabcakes
Ever crave a tasting of the "big city?" One quick remedy is to dress up - not too much, this is still Annapolis - dust off the credit card and head out for a truly fine dining experience. I did exactly that recently, and quite a night was had at O'Leary's Seafood Restaurant in Eastport.
If you haven't made it to O'Leary's - or if you haven't been in a few years - check it out. There are two dining rooms, the larger facing Spa Creek - though with a parking lot and building in between. The decor is warm and exciting, with deep, mustard-colored walls, high ceilings with exposed beamwork and ventilator pipes painted barn red. The high ceilings make this place sing, although the elegantly understated tables are spaced enough for privacy.
Service is what you would expect from fine big city restaurants. Our server was helpful and enlightened. Our courses were timed perfectly, and the presentation was expert.
Choosing from the winter menu, with seasonal offerings as well as some staples, was a process of elimination. Would our appetizer be Cajun fried oysters served with sauce remoulade (six for $9.95)? Fried calamari with sun-dried tomato and ravigote sauce ($7.95)? Or the smoked seafood sampler, a larger platter with smoked salmon, bluefish, scallops, mussels and shrimp with horseradish cream and dill mustard sauce ($14.95)?
We decided on a signature dish, baked oysters O'Leary's, a half-dozen Blue Point oysters baked with spinach, garlic, cream and gruyere ($9.95). The oysters - large, plump and juicy - were served steaming hot on a bed of rock salt.
O'Leary's specializes in the freshest fish, our waiter assured us. However, this made our entrée decision no less difficult with menu choices like hickory-grilled Atlantic Salmon with seared scallops ($23.95), whole Maine lobster (three pounds poached and served out of the shell with creamed spinach and a sinful dish called potatoes O'Leary's at a market price of $53.95), Australian baby lamb chops ($24.95), and even a vegan offering of grilled portabella mushrooms with roasted garlic-vegetable cous cous and winter squash puree ($18.95).
These prices include your choice of house salad (mesclun greens, tomatoes and cucumbers with blue cheese) or Caesar. There is also the option of picking your favorite fresh fish (eight to choose from) and having it prepared in one of four ways (lightly blackened with Creole cream, for example).
After much torment I decided on the rockfish topped with lump crabmeat and sherry Dijon cream served with wilted spinach and O'Leary's mashed potatoes (lots of cream, butter and garlic) for $25.95. Fabulous! My companion had O'Leary's cioppino - crab shrimp, scallops, lobster, mussels and fish in a zesty tomato and bell pepper stew, served in a sourdough bread bowl ($29.95). Yikes! This thing was huge! But it was wonderful. Full of flavor and loads of seafood.
We accompanied our dinners with a selection from the well-sized wine list. Don't look for any bargains here. Most of the wines were over $35. Just remember, it's a special occasion.
To be honest, we couldn't possibly eat another thing, but in the end ordered a bourbon pecan tart with fresh whipped cream to go. Utter decadence!
It was a wonderful evening, sparking memories of big city living without the drive or the airs. I wish I was the kind of person whose body and wallet could afford O'Leary's more often. However, I'll hold on to the notion that too much of a good thing is just that - too much.
O'Leary's Seafood Restaurant
310 Third St., Eastport; 410-263-0884
Proprietors: Paul Meyer & Charlie Bauer
Reasons to go: Fine dining with creative dishes and really fresh fishes.
Something to think about: It ain't cheap!
| Issue 6 |
Volume VII Number 6
February 11-17, 1999
New Bay Times
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