Friendly atmosphere and terrific crabs Seafood: Surfside 7 has a mixed decor and entertainment at night, but its biggest treat for diners is crabs.

September 04, 1997|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

If you're looking for hot, tasty, perfectly seasoned crabs, head to the Surfside 7 Restaurant and Dock Bar.

If you're looking for seafood specialties or creative salads, go somewhere else.

On a Tuesday night visit with two companions, I found Surfside 7 a friendly, casual place to eat. The restaurant has become known recently for its jazz night and weekly live entertainment that gets the place swinging. But Tuesday, we were disappointed to learn, is karaoke night.

The place wasn't too crowded. We sat outside amid a cluster of blue picnic tables, under beer pennants and next to a volleyball court -- indications, my friends thought, of an identity crisis.

The inside dining atmosphere has local seafood restaurant written all over it. A down-home, friendly staff moves about in the dim lighting amid a scent of Old Bay seasoning, past tables with red-checkered cloths.

But the outside says frat party -- even with the boats floating by on the South River. Either way, the place can steam crabs. On the same note, the crab cakes were juicy and full of fresh crab meat, made with little filler.

Unfortunately, the Tuesday night specialty -- lobster -- was sold out by the time we were ordering about 9 p.m. Our second choice, jumbo shrimp, also was sold out. So was our third choice, stuffed rainbow trout.

Almost by default, I tried the soft-shell crabs. They tasted just fine. Nothing that knocked my socks off, but tender and flavorful. The accompanying baked potato was fresh out of the oven and fluffy, but the vegetable side was nowhere to be found.

One friend ordered the spicy shrimp linguine, which proved to be the table's biggest hit. Definitely spicy, this dish was packed with shrimp, mushrooms and red peppers in a pleasant sauce that elicited a thumbs-up all around.

We all sampled the grilled salmon salad and found it lacking.

Barring the fact that it took well into our main course for our waiter to remember to bring the salad dressing, this salad was nothing more than plain. The salmon on top had little flavor and, for $9, we expected more than a head of iceberg lettuce topped with Kraft cheese.

The restaurant offers a varied appetizer list, at prices ranging from $4.95 for chicken tenders or mozzarella sticks, to Old Bay-seasoned steamed shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, at $7.95 for half a pound or $14.95 a pound, and a steamed shellfish combo at $10.95. The broiled mushroom caps stuffed with crab imperial ($6.95) were great.

So enjoy the appetizers, stay for the crabs and, if you're lucky, hear some good music.

Surfside 7 Restaurant and Dock Bar

Where: 48 South River Road. 410-956-8075

Hours: Lunch and Dinner, 11 a.m. to 10: 30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Prices: Appetizers, $4.95-$10.95; entrees, $12.95-$18.95 and market price

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express

Rating: **1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 9/04/97

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