On most Mondays, our lunch habit is to have others do the cooking. Be it the BlueBird for a tuna melt or Proc's for margherita pizza, we are rarely sitting at our own table for the Monday midday meal. If we find ourselves on the road, even better. This most recent Monday we had an early morning appointment with the Volvo dealership in Annapolis to have the car serviced. Finished promptly at 11:30. Perfect! We decided lunch would be on the way home - either Bridge's or Fisherman's.
We opted for the latter. Fisherman's Inn has been a mainstay on Kent Island for probably 90 years, and was actually the scene for my first soft shell crab sandwich, back in another century. I can still remember that sandwich, with the crab's legs sticking out from the bun. It was, of course, delicious and soft shells have been on my favorite list ever since. We haven't been to the place for a year or so, and decided that if we wanted cream of crab soup, that's where we needed to be.
As we were walking up to the doorway, we saw the Sysco truck rumbling near the side entrance. Kevin almost turned around, although we knew it was no surprise to see the largest food purveyor in the country servicing our lunch spot. Who doesn't buy from Sysco around here? Well, we don't, but that's because we deal with another food service company, Chef's Warehouse. Many restaurants get much of their weekly supplies from Sysco, which doesn't mean they don't make things from scratch, it just means that more than likely there are some commercially produced menu items being served, from already seasoned fries to pumpkin pie. Sysco can provide everything a restaurant needs, including raw ingredients like 50 pound bags of Idaho potatoes and all purpose flour to ready-to-serve soups and portion controlled seafood lasagna to sugar packets and coffee cups. It's one stop shopping, and with a relatively high minimum, most of their customers have to get everything they need from that Sysco truck.
Anyway, we weren't going anywhere else.
First thing we noticed was the revamped bar. It was an amazing renovation from the old boat bar that has been there since time immemorial. Plenty of big screen T.V.s gracing the walls, of course, but also a very attractive dark wood bar and lots of inviting tables throughout. I can see stopping there for a cocktail in the future, except perhaps not during football season... It looked very clubby and welcoming.
We were seated at one of their large booths, directly under the train. If you've been to FI, you know what I'm talking about. The dining room was calmly lit, with that lovely view coming in from the windows and everything simply sparkling clean. They have lots of booths, including some big semi-circle ones that I bet are very popular at dinner. The menu is large too, and this means Kevin could not make up his mind, aside from the fact that he knew he wanted cream of crab soup and he knew he wanted fried oysters in some fashion. So, we started with that - a bowl of cream of crab and an appetizer order of fried oysters.
The soup was delicious. I wish I could get Kevin to make it. This version was not too thick, not too much Old Bay, and plenty of crab (with a few bits of shell thrown it to make you hope it was real crab meat). It was difficult to stop slurping long enough to pass it back across the table. The (five) fried oysters (for $13) were attractively presented in clean oyster shells with a dab of tartar sauce at the end of each, and they were good, except they had been seasoned with something that I didn't feel paired well with the flavor of the oyster. It might have been a little Old Bay in the coating. What ever it was, we were glad we had ordered the oysters for an appetizer; now Kevin could eliminate the fried oyster sandwich from his still large options for lunch.
I had decided, after having so enjoyed the soup, that I would stick with that theme and go for some Oyster Stew. Lately I've been on a fish and chip kick, not that successfully, so I steered away from the Fisherman's version, and asked for the Wedge Salad to accompany my stew. Kevin, still a bit undecided, asked for a few more minutes (!) and eventually ordered the "Crab Melt Mini Bites" and the Fish Taco that was on the specials list.
We got these items in two courses, which was fine although I think I would have rather had the stew before that salad. The Fisherman's Inn wedge salad is about as good as this classic gets, with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese making up for the fairly timid blue cheese dressing - which Kevin compared to simple mayonnaise. Crunchy bacon, tomato concassé, iceberg lettuce - I was very happy. On the other hand, I did not care for the crab melts that Kevin shared - I think the fontina and provolone cheeses were too sharp for the crab, and the crab was mysteriously "fishy" in flavor, not sweet like in the soup. It was the only real disappointment in our $57 lunch. (I don't know how we spent that much - it is that ordering one or two things to start, and then two more courses for lunch that gets us into trouble every time!)
The oyster stew was heaven. Heaven. Savory and sweetly creamy, lots of really plump and tender oysters, it was exactly what I'd hoped for. And Kevin's fish tacos were another hit - plenty of mahi mahi, still juicy within their flour tortillas, with well executed pickled onions, a little cabbage and a chipotle mayo, that I found a bit on the sweet side. The skinny sweet potato fries that came with it - more than likely a product from the aforementioned purveyor - didn't hurt either. They were very easy to like. The Chef was happy. Both of us agreed it was one of the better lunches we've had in quite a while, start to finish.
When the server - Courtney - asked us if we wanted anything else, I replied "Don't you think we've had enough??" She knew better than to push it and brought the check with a grin.
It was really good and we will probably make it our lunch stop again, especially as long as that Oyster Stew is on the menu.