Crackpot brings its crab cakes, more to Bel Air

TABLE TALK

September 13, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

For years, the Crackpot Seafood Restaurant has been an institution at Loch Raven and Taylor avenues. Now, its owners are hoping for similar success with a second Crackpot, which opened in Bel Air about a month ago.

Bel Air managing partner Rick May says majority owner Neil Smith has owned the original Crackpot since 1979.

"We just decided we wanted another place. We picked Bel Air because it's a restaurant kind of town. Everybody seems to eat out here and there was a lack of seafood houses and places that serve steamed crabs," he says.

May says the 16,000-square-foot restaurant on Marketplace Drive has two kitchens, two steam rooms, a carryout seafood market, and restaurant and lounge that seats about 300 people.

The first floor is the seafood market, where you can purchase both raw and prepared seafood items. You go upstairs to the second floor - via elevator or stairs - where you first encounter a waterfall and fishpond in the foyer.

A few steps farther and you're in the lounge, which boasts a stainless-steel island bar in the middle of the room, surrounded by several tables and lots of windows.

May says it's the only room in which smoking is allowed but, thanks to vaulted ceilings and some major smoke-eaters, that shouldn't be a problem for nonsmokers who want to hang there, too. May says the lounge shares a two-sided fireplace with a dining room. There are two more dining rooms, one of which can be booked for private parties of up to 100.

With 153 employees still in training, the restaurant is using a limited menu until the end of the month, May says. However, in Crackpot terms, a "limited menu" is still some 75 items long.

There are appetizers like clams casino ($8.95); crab pretzel ($9.95); and crab meat, lobster meat and shrimp sauteed in white-wine garlic sauce and served with French bread rounds ($12.95). Of course, you have your crab soups ($3.50-$4.95), along with a couple of others. There are plenty of sandwich and burger choices, including crab cake ($12.50), barbecue chicken breast ($8.95) and cheeseburger ($6.50).

The entree list leads off with Crackpot's signature crab-cake choices, including original ($21.95); Mexican-made with green pepper, red onions and salsa ($22.95); Hawaiian-made with ham and pineapple ($22.95); and the Pounder Plus, a 20-ounce broiled crab cake ($38.95). Other seafood options include fried shrimp ($13.95), scallops ($14.95) and fresh fish ($14.95-$16.95).

Nonseafood entrees include prime rib ($21.95), barbecue ribs ($17.95) and filet mignon ($21.95). All the entrees come with a choice of two side orders.

You'll find the Crackpot Seafood Restaurant, 410-879-7991, at 510 Marketplace Drive. Reservations are recommended. Its hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Small plates, anyone?

Canton has lost a deli and gained a small-plates place. Bruschetta opened last October as a joint effort by restaurateur Gino Troia (Cafe Troia in Towson) and deli expert Will Bauer as a deli/carryout with a few tables for those who cared to enjoy their meals there along with some wine.

Troia says Bauer has since left to open his own Little Italy deli. "[The deli] is not my business. I only know how to cook," he says.

So Troia has turned Bruschetta into more of an "Italian mezze place." He's taken out the display cases and replaced them with tables and a small wine bar. He says he's offering a variety of Italian small plates, with prices mostly between $5 and $12. Troia also says he's adding a nice selection of beers along with the wine list.

The closest thing to deli items? "We have cheeses and prosciutto to serve people, and occasionally small sandwiches," Troia says. "And if someone wants something [larger] like veal scaloppine, we can do that, too."

Bruschetta, 410-327-1112, is at 2304 Boston St. It's open only for dinner right now, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

If you have information regarding a local restaurant's opening, closing or major changes, please e-mail that information to sloane@sloanebrown.com or fax it to 410-675-3451.

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