Traditional crab house is strictly utilitarian

Bottom of the Bay marking 30th anniversary

Restaurant profile

May 30, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Don't dress up to go to the Bottom of the Bay Seafood, in the median between U.S. 1 north and U.S. 1 south. This restaurant is a strictly no-frills, just-gills kind of place.

Although it has the brown paper tablecloths that more trendy restaurants have adopted, crayons are not offered. The tables, like the rest of the decor, are strictly utilitarian because they soon become covered with cracked and picked-over crab shells.

And that's what Bottom of the Bay is known for, according to Skip Soper, the restaurant's owner. "I'd describe us as a traditional crab house," he said. "It's a real casual atmosphere - nothing fancy."

The place is a child's dream: Napkins come in the form of paper towels pulled from rolls placed on the tables. Dishes and utensils are optional, and disposable.

Children are indeed welcome at Bottom of the Bay Seafood, with a children's menu that ranges from $1.99 for a hot dog or grilled cheese to $3.99 for chicken tenders. All children's meals come with french fries.

Bottom of the Bay's crabs come from the Chesapeake Bay, as well as off the Carolinas and Louisiana. "We'd like to offer just Chesapeake crabs," Soper said. "But you just can't get enough crabs from there anymore."

The menu offers a variety of homemade soups, including crab soup, clam chowder, oyster stew, cream of crab and chili.

In addition to crabs, Bottom of the Bay Seafood also offers regular and fantail shrimp, steamed or half-shell clams and bay or Chincoteague oysters, crab cakes, lobster tail, Snow Crab legs, catfish or grilled fish (tuna, sword or salmon).

If you're not up to a large seafood feast, a variety of hot and cold sandwiches is available as well. In addition to hamburgers, soft crab and crab cake sandwiches, cheese steak, chicken filet, grilled marinated chicken, and rib-eye "supreme" sandwiches are on the menu. Cold sandwiches include shrimp salad, crab salad, tuna salad and seafood salad. Ham and cheese, roast beef, cold-cut and sliced turkey breast sandwiches are offered, too.

In addition, lemon spicy orange roughy (two fillets broiled in a lemon sauce), flounder stuffed with crab meat, barbecued ribs and a variety of steaks are on the menu.

Despite its unassuming appearance, Bottom of the Bay has outlasted many of its competitors and more trendy restaurants. This year marks its 30th anniversary.

"I've worked at Bottom of the Bay since it opened," said Soper, who bought the restaurant in 1995. He started at the restaurant in 1972, working part time cleaning pots and cooking crabs.

"I originally worked in plumbing but didn't like the work," he said. "I didn't think I'd stay that long."

Bottom of Bay Seafood

Where: 9590 North Laurel Road, North Laurel; 301-498- 1040.

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Friday; 10:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday.

Prices: $2.30 to $27.99

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, and Discover

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