Bay N Surf is not cutting-edge, but that's a good thing

March 05, 1998|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

If Capt. Nick ever ventured from the Maine restaurant bearing his name to landlocked Laurel, he'd feel right at home at the Bay N Surf restaurant.

The two establishments have a lot in common: U.S. 1, for starters, which runs past both front doors on its way from the Canadian border to the Florida Keys.

Then there's the kitsch nautical decor, the paper place mats, the helpful help and the fish prepared the way June and Ward Cleaver would like it.

No, you won't find cutting-edge cuisine at Capt. Nick's or Bay N Surf.

But that's not a bad thing.

Why must every dining experience start with a waiter's recitation of the soil pH of the vegetable farm and the blood lines of the animal that will soon be on your plate? Most folks want to eat at, not graduate from, a restaurant.

Dinner at Bay N Surf starts with appetizers ranging from the rather common chicken fingers ($5.95) to two crab cakes ($11.95). Stick with the soups, cream of crab and clam chowder, both $5.25 and plenty tasty.

For $5.95, you can get a seafood soup sampler of the aforementioned items plus crab soup. The sampler with another appetizer would be a terrific light supper.

The wine list offers full and half bottles and carafes. A 1996 Sebastiani chardonnay will set you back $25.

The menu warns: "Due to weather conditions, late airplanes and lazy fishermen, some entrees may not be available."

That night, the salmon ($18.95), orange roughy ($16.95) and crab cakes ($15.95 for one, $21.95 for two) had not fallen prey to the unpredictable.

The grilled salmon, accompanied by a tangy dill sauce, was flaky and moist. Ditto the orange roughy, which was requested without any sauces or butter.

The crab cakes were chock-a-block with back fin meat and broiled. A little squeeze of lemon was all they needed.

The menu also offers seafood and seafood and beef combinations too numerous to mention.

xTC The standard iceberg lettuce salad preceded dinner; the salad dressings, brought on the side, were anything but pedestrian.

Our waitress proudly told us that most are made on the premises and offered to bring us samples.

The freshness and flavor made us forget the ho-hum lettuce and tired veggies. Bravo, Bay N Surf!

Desserts also were safe, but not without merit: a frosty, zippy Key lime pie, an intense black raspberry ice cream, a sinful triple chocolate mousse cake and a creamy cheesecake.

Dinner for two and a half (a companion had an appetizer and left) came to $97.90 with tip, and there was food to take home.

At a nearby table, a group of West County seafood aficionados debated the merits of the county's restaurants, pausing to consider well-known spots in Annapolis, Pasadena and North County.

Then they made plans to reconvene after work at Bay N Surf in a couple of weeks. After all, it's a heck of a lot closer than Capt. Nick's, and the only things missing are the twin boiled lobsters and the silly plastic bibs.

Bay N Surf

Where: 14411 Baltimore Ave. (U.S. 1), Laurel 301-776-7021

Hours: Dinner, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 10: 30 p.m. Fridays; 3 p.m. to 10: 30 p.m. Saturdays; 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Prices: Appetizers, $5.95 to $11.95; entrees, $12.95 to $34.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Novus, Discover

Rating: ***

Ratings: * culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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