We had been to BJ's South several times to sample their fantastic seafood-and-cheddar topped potato skins, gaze at the bay and hail the water taxi. This time we decided to order from the rest of the menu and see what else BJ's does well.
The restaurant, a younger sibling of BJ's on the Water at 75th Street, takes full advantage of its location on the bay near the U.S. 50 bridge. Dinner is served on the wrap-around deck or inside, where garage-door sized windows are left open to the charms of the bay.
We started with fried clam strips ($3.95 for a big basket or $8.95 for all-you-can-eat) and a cup of Maryland crab soup ($3.95). The clams were a little overwhelmed by their coating, but the batter was delicious -- crispy, crunchy and not greasy. The soup was also good, thick with vegetables and lots of crab in a tangy tomato broth.
For our main courses, we chose stuffed breast of chicken ($9.95) and shrimp and scallops ($13.95). Both were accompanied by a large, fresh house salad and a baked potato.
The boneless chicken breast was bursting with fresh broccoli, cheddar cheese and flavor. Subtly topped with a cream sauce and served on a bed of wild rice, it was hearty and delicious.
The shrimp and scallops were broiled and served in a lemon butter and garlic sauce. The dish featured four plump shrimp and about a dozen tender scallops, mildly seasoned and just terrific.
Save room for dessert. BJ's offers great homemade cheesecakes, peanut butter pie and Mississippi mud pie ($3.25 each). We had a slice of cheesecake and a slice of mud pie (layers of ice cream and chocolate pudding on a crushed cookie crust), each topped with real whipped cream.
BJ's South is a little less bar-like than BJ's on 75th Street. The canned pop music is kept low enough that it never interferes with your conversation.
There's a lot of activity -- the Miss Ocean City docks here for its evening scenic cruises, the water taxi makes its rounds, the Island Watersports center is nearby and there's plenty of merriment at the deck bar -- but we enjoyed an unhurried and thoroughly pleasant dinner.
And if you want one more excuse to go to BJ's, consider thisEarly diners can enjoy a free cruise on the Miss Ocean City with each dinner ordered (space and weather permitting). Go.
1st Street and the Bay, 289-7555.
Hours: dinner 4 p.m. to midnight; light fare until 1:30 a.m.
Credit cards: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Diner's Club, Carte Blanche.
Features: seafood, salads, sandwiches.