Location is Anastasia's high point

September 08, 1995|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Restaurant Critic

Rule No. 1 for eating out in Baltimore: If you can eat it on the water, it'll taste better than it really is. Case in point: a meal at the new Anastasia at the Anchorage Marina.

Anastasia is the sibling of Speakeasy, a pleasant little restaurant that opened in Canton a couple of years ago. It did so well that owner Bill Vasilakopoulos opened a second eating place this summer not far from the first. He named it Anastasia after his mother.

Anastasia is the more ambitious of the two enterprises, with a downstairs bar and deck and a more formal dining room upstairs. We were going to eat upstairs because we thought the deck was just for drinks and bar food, but the air conditioner wasn't working very well. The hostess had no problem serving us dinner outside, so we trekked back downstairs and out to the deck overlooking the marina.

There's just something about eating on the water, especially this time of year when it's warm but not too warm and a light breeze comes in off the Patapsco. You sit there, watch the sun set, look at the boats and sip a little wine. Nice.

But sooner or later you have to deal with the fact that the service is pleasant but very slow and the food is OK but not as good as it could be.

Anastasia's menu stresses seafood, with "today's catch" offered eight different ways, from blackened to provencal (baked with tomatoes, peppers and onions). You can also get various steaks and chops, several with a Greek accent.

As it turned out, the tender baby lamb chops, marinated and seasoned Greek style (plenty of oregano), were the hit of the evening. All the seafood we tried was very fresh but overcooked. That included tuna, salmon and shrimp in a mixed seafood grill with a smoky sweet red pepper sauce. It included an appetizer of "shark bites," cubes of mako shark, and the oysters baked to death in a brandy cream sauce.

The shellfish in seafood fra diavolo wasn't overcooked, but the sauce was so highly spiced, I couldn't eat it. Crab soup was equally spicy, with little or no crab. But it did have big chunks of potatoes.

A crab cake was mushy and came with cole slaw that was even spicier than the sauce and soup.

Saganaki, our one non-seafood first course (if you count the no-crab soup as seafood), was the best of the lot. Greek kasseri cheese is broiled, sprinkled with lemon juice and flamed with liquor at the table. You spread the soft, hot cheese on pita bread.

Desserts are made on the premises, each one sweeter and richer than the last (like the vanilla custard cream in Greek shredded-wheat pastry with whipped cream). A simple bread pudding turned out to be the winning choice.

Anastasia

Where: 2501 Boston St.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.-noon

Credit cards accepted: Major

Features: Seafood, grilled meats

Call: (410) 276-7000

Prices: appetizers, $4.95-$10.95; entrees, $10.95-$19.95

**

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