The piped-in music and the decor at Gunning's Seafood Restaurant aren't great, but then Carnegie Hall probably serves a lousy crab cake.
Me? I'll take the crab cake at Gunning's. And the rockfish stuffed with crab. And the soft crab sandwich. And the eclair.
There are two Gunning's, the original on South Hanover Street in Baltimore that was sold at a foreclosure auction five years ago and one in Hanover, owned by the son of the original Eddie Gunning.
Gunning's, the West County version, is the restaurant that progress paved around. Once easily visible and accessible from Dorsey Road, Gunning's is now on a service road, tucked in the southwest corner of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 100 cloverleaf.
It's a route worth memorizing.
The wine list is short on offerings (four whites and five reds), but long on value. The house wine is Corbett Canyon, $3.95 by the glass and $12.95 by the bottle.
Appetizers are fairly standard for a seafood house: steamed shrimp, buffalo wings, crab balls. So were the soups: Maryland ++ crab, cream of crab, seafood bisque Thursday through Sunday and oyster stew in season, all available in cup and bowl size. Our personable waitress, Charlene, suggested the smaller version if we expected to have room for dessert.
The cream of crab was thick and rich, too much so for our taste, and was served without any sherry to alter the consistency.
Our main courses were the broiled crab cake platter (one cake for $12.50, two for $22) and the whole rockfish stuffed with crab ($19.95).
One thing you can say about Gunning's -- it isn't stingy with its crab meat.
The cakes, fist-sized and golden, were all crab meat.
The whole rockfish was moist and packed with crab imperial. The dinner conversation suffered as my companion attempted to avenge the death of Captain Ahab. Once again, the fish won and my friend had leftovers to take home.
If you can't decide what to order, perhaps the crabman's platter ($24.50) with seven kinds of seafood would solve the problem.
Gunning's offers about 10 side dishes; the mashed potatoes and corn on the cob seem to be the best.
For the kids, Gunning's has four junior-size platters, ranging from a hot dog ($1.75) to shrimp in a basket ($5.50).
Dessert? Don't hesitate -- go straight for the eclair. One easily serves two.
Dinner for two with wine, tax and tip came to $78.
Gunning's 7304 Parkway Drive, Hanover. 410-712-9404
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10: 30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; noon to 10 p.m. Sundays
Prices: Appetizers, $4.95-$15.95; entrees, $12.50-$24.95
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diner's
Ratings: * culinary wasteland
**** culinary heaven
Pub Date: 6/18/98