At G & M, the crab cakes are big business

November 05, 1998|By Kathryn Higham | Kathryn Higham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

To say G & M is famous for its crab cakes is a bit of an understatement. That much was clear when we walked into this Linthicum restaurant and spotted them on almost every table. They werehard to miss.

There's nothing petite about these crab cakes, folks. Order a double platter, and you'll find yourself facing the Grand Tetons of crab, two colossal mounds studded with jumbo lumps, broiled to golden perfection.

There's more filler holding the crab together than some purists may like, but it's not thick breading. Moist and eggy-tasting, these crab cakes are light and airy, with the faintest hint of crab spice. They're not gourmet crab cakes, but they are certainly the biggest I've ever had, and among the best.

Since 1993, when the current owners took over G & M, crab cakes have been the big draw, both in the restaurant and carryout.

The restaurant makes a stab at being polished, with white tablecloths and a display of gold-framed "art." But service is closer to what you'd expect in a diner. Plastic soda bottles are plunked down unopened, and dishes stack up too long.

That said, G & M certainly is worth a drive for its crab cakes. If you're in the neighborhood, you might want to try one of the reasonably priced specials, too. For $7.95, we sampled the fettuccine primavera in a light cream sauce, with broccoli and ribbons of carrots, zucchini and onion. It rivaled similar dishes I've had in Little Italy, and only needed a sprinkling of Parmesan. Our waitress hadn't thought to ask.

She did recommend the prime rib, which comes in three sizes -- queen, king and a 25-ounce monster cuts. The smallest portion at $12.95 was enough of a behemoth -- a slab of juicy, tender beef that barely fit on the plate. We sent the first plate back because it was overcooked, but were happy with the second.

Dinners come with softball-sized rolls, glossy with egg on the outside, and a simple house salad of iceberg lettuce, carrot shreds and tomato wedges. Homemade whipped blue cheese dressing turns the salad into something special.

For side orders, stick with slightly sweet, barely dressed cole slaw and potato salad tossed with green pepper and carrot, both freshly made. Soggy frozen vegetables and instant mashed potatoes are no match.

Appetizers are not the highlight of a meal at G & M, and neither are desserts. Skip the Maryland crab soup, as innocuous as something Campbell's might can, and the baked clams casino, topped with sauteed vegetables and bacon. The combined flavors don't work together.

The best starter is a pan of stuffed mushrooms blanketed thick with rich crab imperial, and served with cocktail sauce, of all things. But it's probably not the best choice if you plan to order crab cakes for dinner.

Of the three desserts made in-house, a firm square of bread pudding was the hands-down favorite at our table. Spiked with raisins, apple slices and a healthy splash of vanilla, it would have been even better warmed. Creamy rice pudding put us in mind of whipped cream with al dente rice, and baklava was a soggy mess of limp phyllo and nuts in a pool of syrup.

But, by now you know, that's not why people swing off the Beltway for a detour to G & M.

G & M

Address: 804 Hammonds Ferry Road, Linthicum

410-636-1777

Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner; breakfast on weekends

Credit cards: All major cards

Prices: Appetizers, $1.95-$8.95; entrees, $7.50-$27.95

Food: ** 1/2

Atmosphere: **

Service: **

Ratings system: Outstanding: **** Good *** Fair or uneven ** Poor *

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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