What you see is not necessarily what you get at Hummer's Olde Bay Restaurant.
What you see is a low, plain brick building hard by Pulaski Highway with randomly parked vehicles in the lot and electric beer signs in the windows.
But what you get is good food, skillfully prepared and nicely served in a comfortable, unpretentious dining room.
There are, in fact, no pretensions at the Olde Bay. But, then, there don't need to be. The food is so good that it would stand out in much showier surroundings.
The Olde Bay is really three spots in one. It is part old-boy tavern with a winding, padded bar, video games and semi-loud music. It is part crab house, called rather ''the crab room'' after what it serves rather than the disposition of its customers, we presume. And it is part very good restaurant.
That's the part we wandered into on a recent Friday night. And we're happy we did.
True to its name, the Olde Bay concentrates on seafood with an interesting array of crab dishes and a wide-ranging selection of other seafood dishes. But the aroma wafting from the kitchen was of sizzling steak. It made our decisions difficult.
We started with cups of Maryland Crab ($1.95) and Cream of Crabsoups ($2.95). The Maryland Crab Soup was tongue-tingling and good, but the cream soup was terrific. Large chunks of crab swam in a thick sherry-tinged cream. No shredded crab meat here.
NB For my entree, I stayed with crab, choosing a dish called Crab
Lump ($14.95), which was a large mound of crab meat that had been sauteed in garlic and butter. I don't think I've ever had so much crab and so much garlic together in the same dish, but I wouldn't at all mind having it again. The garlic put a spicy edge on the high-quality crab without overpowering it. The combination was simple and simply delicious.
My husband had the Seafood Platter ($17.95), a sampler that included a large crab cake, several bay scallops, a flounder filet, stuffed shrimp and crab imperial, served with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce. It was all very good. Unlike most seafood platters, everything was hot, properly cooked and delicious.
All entrees come with two vegetables from a long, interesting list. With the crab, I had a good baked potato and a cucumber salad that was just a bit sweet, but not cloying.My husband had homemade french fries and ''perfect'' lima beans.
The desserts say a lot about the Olde Bay: ice cream, puddings, pies, cobblers. Homey stuff, to be sure. We settled on Bread Pudding ($1.95) and Peach Cobbler ala Mode ($2.95). Both were delicious and sure appeared homemade.
The Bread Pudding, served in a tulip glass, was warm and slightly mushy, but not unpleasantly so. It had lots of raisins and was spicy with nutmeg. The Peach Cobbler had a good, crust over good peaches. A treat, even though the fruit wasn't just off the tree.
Although the Olde Bay has a large menu, it has a small -- about 10 offerings -- wine list that seems pretty much an afterthought. But, then, not many customers were drinking wine when we were there.
We picked two bottles of white wine, telling the waitress that whichever was available would be OK.Neither was.
She returned to our table with a bottle of wine in hand. ''They said I should show you this,'' she said. We knew nothing about the wine but tried it and were pleased.
When the waitress served the wine, there was no room on our table for the wine bucket. So she pulled over a chair from a nearby table, covered the seat with a napkin and set the bottle down.
Nor, again, did there need to be.
Our meal, with a small salad ($2.95) the wine ($9.99), two cocktails and two coffees ($1 each), was $66.73. Prices aren't cheap at the Olde Bay, but they are reasonable given what you get. The quality is very high, the portions are large and the folks in the kitchen know what they're doing. The service is on a par.
And you can be sure of one thing -- you're not paying for pretensions.
Hummer's Olde Bay
8322 Pulaski Highway,
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Credit cards: Major credit cards accepted.
Handicapped access: Limited access.
Smoking: No separate areas designated.