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.
The Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric has a deep history that stretches back to the 1890s, when frequent polkas filled the air on summer evenings and the walls were decked out in beer-garden fashion. Throughout the following century, acts ranging from demonstrations of electric cooking to performances by Ella Fitzgerald and Robin Williams have inspired awe and given cause for recent restoration.
Finger fare dominates the appetizer menu, including meaty chipotle-barbecue shrimp hugged in grilled bacon strips and kissed with cheddar grits ($12), local and New England artisanal cheeses served with fruit and blueberry honey ($14), and southwestern eggrolls ($8.95). Those in search of greener grub will appreciate the fresh nine salad offerings. The farm salad ($11) features chilled hunks of chicken tossed with crumbled goat cheese, sliced green apples, grape tomatoes, and dried cranberries. For lunch, grilled cheese grows up with Tavern's farm-fresh take on the classic ($8.25) in three different styles. Main dinner courses include aged-USDA-beef selections, such as the brandy-flamed New York strip tavern steak ($27), and jumbo day-boat scallops pan seared and coated in decadent lobster butter ($25). Vegetarians can take solace in the vegetarian sauté, a garden blend bedded atop wild-mushroom risotto ($20).
Whether seated on a patio overlooking stretches of grass or within a cozy dining room aglow with hanging lights, guests at Donna’s are treated to an array of tasty, upscale American dishes. The menu boasts a selection that changes weekly and may include quinoa and homemade falafel, five-spice ribs, salmon on cold noodles, or homemade tacos. From the expansive wine lists, guests select a glass of dry sparkling prosecco to pair with pizza or calamari or sip a seasonal cocktail such as the pineapple caipirinha. In addition to crafting delicious meals, the team at Donna’s offers cooking classes, during which they bake rustic breads, make pastas by hand, and quiet the melodramatic death throes of Italian vegetables.