Bay Bites
The Inn at Pirates Cove
West River Hospitality
by Gabby Crabcakes

We've all heard the adage, "location, location, location."

At the Inn at Pirates Cove on the West River in historic Galesville the combination of beautiful scenery, good food and friendly hospitality make this location a real winner.

Easy to find, just 20 miles from downtown Annapolis, Pirates Cove awaits with loads of opportunity for enjoying both nature and dining. In reality, it's more of a compound than just a restaurant. The popular marina offers guest slips for patrons, while the adjacent inn offers several rooms for overnight guests. There are also recently remodeled showers and changing rooms (for boaters to refresh prior to dining during those sticky summer months), Big Mary's Dock Bar for lite fare, entertainment and fun in the sun (open Memorial Day to Labor Day) and, of course, the restaurant.

Even the restaurant has something for everyone. There are three dining rooms: the Porch (non-smoking with lots of windows); the Main dining Room (non-smoking with wood-burning fireplace and more formal dining); the raw bar (right off the reception area, which has its own gas fireplace); and the bar/smoking dining room (with large exposed wood beams, nautical lanterns and gas/wood fireplace). When weather permits, the popular place to be is on the deck with a beautiful view of the marina and the West River. As you can imagine, during the summer months Pirates Cove is buzzing with activity, both inside and out. You can even watch the Wednesday night sailboat races as the sun dips beyond the horizon.

But, hey, it's February, and it's cold outside.

On days like these, I hope for the best and sit in the bar's dining room. This can be risky, because there are few places left for smokers to feel at ease in public, and sometimes they get a little carried away. But I think this room has the most character. The fire is blazing, and with plenty of glass doors, the boats and water are nearly at your feet. The bar is large and comfortable and plays host to many regulars. Make sure you say hello to Joe Williams, a living legend who has tended bar at Pirates Cove for nearly 38 years.

There are always specials at the Cove, including a monthly special (fried catfish for February). Other specials on a recent evening included a tuna steak done any way you wanted, a house special called Veal Oscar - veal medallions topped with lump crab, topped with asparagus and beurre blanc sauce - similar to a menu entree called Phoenix, which substitutes two egg-battered chicken breasts for the veal ($15.95). Entrees are all served with iceberg lettuce, tomato and crouton house salad. Try the house dressing, a dill honey mustard with great zest.

My companion and I decided to start with soup. I opted for the cream of crab (cup $2.95/bowl $3.95), a very thick concoction with backfin and served with sherry. My companion ordered an insider's special, the oyster pan roast ($5.95), a creamy bowl of oyster essence riddled with big fat oysters and topped with toast points.

For entrees we tried a signature dish off the menu: Flounder Longhorn ($17.95), a nice-sized flounder fillet stuffed with crab imperial, garnished with shrimp and broiled. It was served with a perfectly baked potato with a side of sour cream and lots of green beans. Our other dish was the salmon special ($15.95), perfectly broiled and sided with baked potato and green beans. As if there wasn't enough food, a basket of warm butter bread and homemade banana poppy-seed bread was there for the taking.

The menu at Pirates Cove is ample, with a huge array of appetizers: Baked oyster sampler; $8.25, a mixed dish of barbecue oysters, Cove oysters (broiled with crab imperial) and oysters Rockefeller; local smoked bluefish (served with onion salad and horseradish sauce, $6.95); portobello mushrooms (sliced and sautéed with shallots, in butter and red wine topped with Gorgonzola cheese and served with bread and mixed wild greens, $6.95).

Dinner choices are pasta, seafood, meat and chicken. The hungry should try the broiled seafood platter (lobster, shrimp, scallops, clam casino and fish broiled in garlic butter and white wine $21.95).

The lunch menu has some original dishes, as well, including my favorite, the Gabby Crabby (no relation!) - a toasted English muffin with tomato, crab salad, and Muenster cheese baked until it bubbles served with French fries, coleslaw and dill pickle ($9.95).

Service was pleasant and attentive. I always respect a server who directs you when troubled with a decision (ours steered us to the Flounder Longhorn). I ordered a glass of the house cabernet ($4.25) and then a glass of the house merlot ($4.25) rather than a bottle of wine. My companion's imported beer cost $3.75.

Again, I was too full to make it to dessert, so I can't report first-hand, but they do offer a nice selection of sweets including a hot fudge brownie supreme ($3.95), Key lime pie ($2.95) and chocolate amaretto mousse pie ($3.25).

Whether you get there by boat or car, Pirates Cove is sure to please your senses.


The Inn at Pirates Cove
4817 Riverside Dr., Galesville 410/867-2300
Bob Platt

Reasons to go: Location, location, location.

Something to think about: Depending where you live, location isn't always convenient.

| Issue 7 |

Volume VII Number 7
February 18-24, 1999
New Bay Times

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