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Power Lunch: The Back Porch at Ken's Creative Kitchen

May 26, 2010 06:47PM ● By Anonymous

What we got: A table on the outdoor, wraparound porch with waterfront views of the bustling marina—sailboats, luxury yachts, and all—and the Bay Bridge in the distance. The spectacular view under the shaded porch immediately put us in a good mood. Our nearby dining company of the Sperry topsider crowd had us thinking champagne wishes and caviar dreams, yet the checkered tablecloth, fresh flower bouquet, and courteous wait staff brought us back to down-home simplicity. James ordered a cool glass of ice tea with lemon; Andy opted for water with lemon.

Both of us started with a cup of the cream of crab soup, served within 3 minutes of ordering. The ivory white, velvety concoction had perfect viscosity. Not lumpy, nor molasses-slow off the spoon, it was a smooth beurre blanc with sherry notes and fresh lump crab. In fact, several spoonfuls in, we concurred that the crab meat was local; there’s simply something about the Bay water that imparts a distinct flavor to the meat and we mean this in a very good way.

After the duly-noted fantastic start, James tackled jumbo Gulf shrimp remoulade sandwich, served on a mammoth-sized croissant with vine ripe tomato, avocado, and watercress. Two sides accompanied the dish; what tasted-to-be an organic house salad kissed with a light ‘n’ sweet vinaigrette and a fresh cole slaw that would make Paula Dean proud. The trio was of the utmost quality in terms of ingredients, preparation, and presentation, which paid off with each bite. The word heavenly begins to describe the meal.

Like most in the region, Andy’s a sucker for a good crab cake. But that’s just the thing: Andy’s a sucker for a good crab cake. Since most every restaurant in the area makes one, the disparity between the just-OK variety and the I’m-never-leaving-Maryland-for-the-rest-of-my-life variety is too great for him to order one if he doesn’t have reason to believe it’s going to reach his lofty standards. The reputation of Upton’s cake was well known at the table, so Andy dialed one up without hesitation, and Upton did not disappoint. Upton adhered to the first rule of a good crab cake: defer to the crab. There were no supplemental ingredients, minimal use of binder, and the seasoning was an accent to the flavor of the meat, not the main attraction. Frankly, Andy wishes he hadn’t eaten it, as he’s been forced to reconsider his top-five crab cake list, which had previously been written in stone. (Perhaps we’ll get a look at the list in a future post. In the meantime, feel free to tell us your favorite crab cakes in the comments.)

What we paid: At about $15 per lunch entrée, another $4 per cup of soup, plus tip, we walked away paying a little bit more than we would for an everyday lunch. But for a once-a-week outing, it was worth every Washington spent.

How long it took: The service was so on point that we completed our meal in exactly a half-hour. A 15-minute drive to and fro, made this trip out the perfect power-hour.

The verdict: Sublime. The weather, waterfront porch setting, expertly-managed service and kitchen, and delicious food had us thinking that The Back Porch is everything an Annapolis lunch should be.