A fire snaps fingers of flame behind the brick storefront as alarmed figures run to and fro, cradling and dragging valuable objects through the doors and into the daylight. These altruists weren't carrying gold, or silver, or fine statues, but photographs signed by Johnny Unitas. Patrick's Restaurant has recovered since this disaster, keeping intact a collection of artwork and sports memorabilia carried over from the Golden Arm, a restaurant opened by the Colts football legend. Framed photographs and Tiffany lamps hanging over the bar bear the Johnny Unitas label, and Golden Arm’s recently restored mural gazes from the wall out over chattering visitors.
The main dining room provides a foil to the bustling bar area, surrounding visitors with a calm sea of white-clothed tables, chandeliers, and glass windows etched with pairs of courting sweethearts. From the foyer, interior studio windows grant glimpses into the restaurant’s wine cellar, filled with towering racks that hold up to 2,500 bottles, exactly enough for one person to learn to juggle wine bottles. Strains of Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra warble throughout the space, launching smoky harmonies through tendrils of steam rising from varied dishes.
Head chef Carole Brosso lets an education at the Culinary Institute of America and certification from the American Chefs Association shine through in simmering pasta sauces and reductions destined to cloak plates. Carole takes diners’ palates on European tours through a menu of italian pastas, French-inspired seafood, and Spanish recipes, drawing upon local meats, and fish and shellfish brought in daily from an area fishery, and seasonal veggies still laced with notes of a scarecrow’s perfume.
Instead of limiting themselves to one type of cuisine, S & J Crab Ranch has included two of their favorites—Maryland seafood and southern barbecue. Local flavors pile up at the raw bar, where diners can order gulf shrimp by the pound or plates of clams and seasoned mussels; however, as the restaurant’s name implies, crabs are the signature item. They can be steamed and served whole, as jumbo lump crab cakes, or in a creamy soup spiked with a bit of sherry.
Of course, the seafood seeps into the southern-inspired meals as well. A selection of classic southern sandwiches includes fried catfish with creole mustard. Regional cuisine builds out the rest of the menu, giving diners options such as slow-cooked Texas brisket, Carolina-style pulled pork, and st. louis ribs rubbed with secret spices. Even the classic American dishes take cues from S & J’s penchant for the ocean—fresh crab meat bulks up the mac ‘n’ cheese, and pulled pork and barbecue sauce enhance a pile of nachos.
As you finger-frolic down the menu, open with the succulent Maryland crab soup ($4 for a cup, $6 for a bowl). Crab guacamole ($9.25), much like synchronized swimming through a pool of salsa, puts a south-of-the-border spin on the delights of the sea. Shades along the sandwich spectrum include a beef medallion hoagie ($11.75), soft-shell crab delivered daily from Tilghman Island ($13.50), and a fresh char-broiled burger ($7). Bo's seafood club ($12) sets up crab cakes and shrimp salad on a blind date and uses the intoxicating effects of bacon to spark the chemistry between them, while the strawberry chicken club ($10) layers grilled chicken, avocado mayonnaise, and fresh, sweet strawberries on two sturdy slices of wheat bread. You can also visit Bo Brooks's outdoor Tiki Hut to dine on its menu and experience an open, airy environment makes for a nice backdrop to casual American cuisine and a drink from the fully stocked bar.
Inspired by the seasons, executive chef Shawn McClure's menu features locally sourced dishes and changes weekly. Post up at the slate-blue oyster bar for an order of pan-seared scallops served with black seaweed salad and drizzled with carrot-ginger sauce ($11) or sushi-grade Ahi tuna tartare with a blood-orange glaze and jalapeno pesto ($11). Advance to the galley for dinner. The central seating area ushers in a faint breeze from the retractable street-level doors, inviting vibrant discussions and the freshest Burton Gilliam gossip. Try the restaurant's famed oysters (selection and availability varies daily), steamed mussels, clams, or shrimp with garlic-caper or roasted-tomato butter ($10–$18 per pound). Entrees include grilled salmon with leeks and roasted red-potato salad ($16), pan-sautéed crab cakes sided with sugar-snap peas and a tangy mustard-parsley sauce ($24), and fish and chips ($15).
Nearly 40 years ago, Greek immigrant Demetrios "Jimmy" Minadakis helped build Jimmy's Famous Seafood with his bare hands, and the business has remained in his hardworking family ever since. With fresh seafood flown in daily and a menu listing more than 80 tasty plates, there is hardly a shelled, gilled, or exoskeleton-clad creature from the great puddle that Jimmy's doesn't offer. The restaurant specializes in crab and crab-infused dishes, such as the crab cake platter ($14.95), crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp ($21.95), and Alaskan snow crab legs ($18.95). Other mouth-watering mollusks include oysters on the half shell ($9.95) and littleneck clams shucked to order ($6.95 for 12). Fans of land mammals can use their teeth to applaud an impressive array of red meats, like bacon-wrapped filet mignon ($19.95) or lamb chops ($24.95) served with traditional Greek accoutrements, such as phyllo bread, Tzatziki sauce, and a moustache bib.