PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Think about a suburban perk that we often take for granted. How about parking and dining?
Park the buggy a few steps from the eatery door – no parking fees, no long walk to a restaurant. Same deal for summer boaters on the nearby Chesapeake Bay.
Whether you own your own, charter or score a guest berth, docking and dining is the key to a carefree lunch or dinner. If a restaurant has a coveted waterfront location, good chance it also has a parking lot in back and a dock in front with free tie up while sipping and supping.
Here’s our annual look at a few favorites on the Eastern Shore from north to south – some are return entries, others new to my list. Let’s start by tossing a line to the dockhands at….
Navigate your way up the winding and scenic Sassafras River and into the historic harbor at Georgetown.
The village had the distinction of being burned to the ground by the British during the War of 1812. But having long been revitalized, a favorite stop for bay boaters to sip and sup is the Granary.
There’s free docking, waterside views and a Chesapeake inspired menu with crab laced soups, apps, even draped over nachos. A parade of familiar comfy foods leads the way with bacon laced Mac and Cheese, pot pies, meatloaf, and then branches off to a range of steaks and chops.
If you decide to stay overnight, just move the boat to a transient slip at the nearby Georgetown Yacht Basin. My last visit there, I heard a couple of
thumps on deck Sunday morning and found a bag of bagels and cream cheese cups plus the Washington Post. Classy touch.
Half the fun for new arrivals at this marina and eatery is navigating the cut into Fairlee Creek.
On approach, a guiding buoy looks like it’s on the beach. It’s not. Then a sharp turn with a swift current into the harbor. But once there, call the dockmaster and tie up for an eyefilling lunch or dinner at Bayside.
You’ll have a water view and find a simple menu, heavy on Chesapeake favorites including the ever present crab cake.
If you’re in a party mood as the sun sets over the bay, stroll over to Jellyfish Joel’s to sip on long cool Caribbean themed tipples, and on weekends, sway to favorite bay bands. Most folks who stop at Joel’s, make it a point to overnight.
A favorite image of the tree shaded Worton Creek shoreline is a heron, perched on the boom of an anchored sailboat.
I spotted the bird directly across the waterway from the Harbor House Restaurant that sits on a rise over the Worton Creek Marina. It’s a picturesque setting that invites docking and dining, with a window view of the creek.
Bar conversation revolves around boats and the bay. The streamlined menu is tilted toward fin and shell fish – crab, shrimp and calamari with a nod to beef eaters in the crowd.
Many boaters who enjoy a breeze in the anchorage, motor across the creek to tie up at the marina and walk the path to Harbor House for dinner, then return to drop the hook. Or dock for dinner and spend the night.
If the popular town of St. Michaels is your destination, take a short cut through the Chester River and Kent Island Narrows. Just as you approach the Narrows drawbridge, if you’re a lover of Maryland steamed crabs, there’s a stop you’ll want to make – Harris Crab House.
You’ll spot the crab boats tied up alongside an adjacent shack. They’re delivering the live beauties, fresh from the bay and river bottom.
They go straight from boat to crab house table. Several slips are available, but the best bet is tying up to the bulkhead in front of the restaurant. In fine weather, try to score a table on the outdoor upper deck.
Then just crack some crabs, wash them down with a pitcher and gaze at the traffic passing through the Narrows.
If you visit during the week, all-you-can-eat crabs dominate the menu. For non-crackers, meaty, lump crab cakes are always available.
Arriving in St. Michaels Harbor off the Miles River, you can’t miss the Crab Claw Restaurant. Tie up and you’re just steps away from the slip to a table, ready to be decorated with a pile of hot steamed crabs.
This is a house dedicated to the Maryland Blue Crab. There is one item on the menu that must be tried. Why? Because it’s unique, delicious and you can tell your friends back home about it. It’s the hard fried crab.
The menu hints at it’s construction, but the unrevealed secret is in the batter. They steam the spiced crab, remove the top shell and lungs, stuff it with a lump crab cake, dip the whole thing in that special batter and then deep fry to a golden finish.
You give it a couple of minutes to cool and dig in. while you’re there, stop in at the neighboring Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for a comprehensive insight into bay ecology, history and culture.
These are just a few of the spots with convenient docking while on an Eastern shore cruise. In a coming Article, we’ll take a look at their Western Shore cousins from Baltimore to the Patuxent River.
Just a few tips: It’s best to call ahead to determine whether there will be transient room at the docks.
There usually is.
If there’s a nearby anchorage, you can stay the night there and then dinghy to the restaurant dock. But experience has taught me that it’s hard to leave a waterside table or bar, the conversation, the nibbles, new friends and the drinks.
It’s a good idea to stay the night either at dockside or at a very, very close anchorage.