As the crab and boating season gets into full gear, waterfront restaurants in South County are braced for the summer rush.
One of these, Skipper's Pier in Deale, boasts local crabs and an excellent waterfront view.
The restaurant isn't blessed with the best location to find by land, but its deck, opening onto Rockhold Creek, gives it an authentic bayside atmosphere.
At the end of the long and winding Drum Point Road, Skipper's Pier offers a good selection of seafood and relaxed atmosphere.
My two dinner companions and I arrived there on a Wednesday night and promptly grabbed a picnic bench by the water. The inside tables were empty, as everyone chose to dine outside in the breezy evening weather.
It wasn't very crowded, but it took about 25 minutes for our waitress to appear.
We ordered two appetizers. Skipper's Original Crab Dip ($6.95), a mixture of artichokes, spinach, Monterey jack, cream cheese and sweet claw meat served with sliced sourdough baguettes, was heavy on the cream cheese and light on the crab, but it was a pretty good start.
Unfortunately, the Steamer Platter ($11.50), a combination of a quarter-pound each of shrimp, clams and mussels, was a bit less satisfying.
We found it to be over-steamed, dry and lacking in flavor.
For the main course - preceded by dinner salads for us all - I ordered the mushroom-crusted salmon ($14.95).
The salmon and pan-seared red snapper ($15.95), ordered by one of my friends, were presented with wild rice and asparagus in a colorful way that suggested some effort and made us feel as if we were in an upscale restaurant rather than dining on a picnic table.
The salmon was flaky and moist. The asparagus was crispy and the rice was filling. My friend found the snapper, which was covered in a berry sauce, to be filling and tasty. The sauce brought out the flavor of the fish, also flaky and moist.
My other dinner companion gave the traditional crab cake platter ($19.95, market price) a high rating for its abundance of crabmeat and flavor.
Despite the occasional piece of shell, he said they were some of the best crab cakes he's had in a while. They were cooked to perfection, he said, and served with asparagus.
We finished off the meal with a half-dozen medium-sized steamed crabs. They were covered with bay seasoning and provided a fair amount of meat.
Overall, the dining experience was good. The atmosphere was pleasant, the meals exceeded our expectations and we had a great view of the water and marinas. Our only complaint was the slow service.
So if you aren't pressed for time, Skipper's Pier is definitely worth the visit.
Where: 6158 Drum Point Road, Deale, 410-867-7110
Dining hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday; closed Monday, Tuesday.
Credit cards: All major cards
Ratings: * culinary wasteland, **** culinary heaven