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What's Up Magazine

O'Brien's Oyster Bar and Grill

Dec 08, 2010 08:21PM ● By Anonymous

History permeates 113 Main Street, currently home to O’Brien’s Oyster Bar and Grill; it has seen over 200 years of Annapolis evolution. Built in 1774, the site was originally the Rose and Crown Tavern, where revolutionaries and royalists met. But O’Brien’s has much more history. In 1836 it became Sam’s café, the only dancing establishment in Annapolis at that time. Later, it was home to some notable firsts: right after World War II, the first pizza pie was introduced in Annapolis at LaRosa Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge; in 1964 it was the city’s first dinner theater. It was not until the 1970s that it became Fran O’Brien’s (named after a Washington Redskins defensive player) and the menu focused on steaks and seafood. In 1993 Jerry Hardesty, owner and operator, renamed it O’Brien’s Oyster Bar and Grill.


After Allison seated us and provided us with our refreshments, we ordered our first course. One of my guests found many of his favorites on the menu. So we were not shy and promptly began our feast. The cream of crab was delectable: old fashioned, thick and tasty, and richly garnished with lump crab. The seafood tower is a treat: a variety of appetizers from the menu, elegantly presented. It consists of scrumptious Annapolis bruschetta (garlic toast topped with crabmeat, artichoke hearts, and imperial sauce), crisp and tender fried calamari served with a chipotle aioli and plum sauce, two freshly baked oysters Rockefeller, and two clams casino. The Mediterranean bay scallops were sautéed in olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, and oregano, with grape tomatoes, red onion, and mushrooms, they had wonderful flavors and the scallops were very tender. As a palate cleanser, we shared a wedge iceberg lettuce salad dressed with cucumber, carrots, onions, bacon, and blue cheese dressing. It was a crisp and tasty way to make the transition to the main course.

The menu overall is quite well designed. It does take attention to please all the guests in such an operation. Whether you are looking for something substantial or just something to accompany your beverage, the menu offers a variety, from classics to more adventurous. Our small party tried its best to cover that span with our entrees.

First, of course, we had to try the fish and chips. Not pretentious, rightly battered, and perfectly fried to a golden crisp, these were an enjoyable dish for the lighter side. On the more substantial side, the center cut sirloin teriyaki was outstanding: a very tasty and tender cut, basted with a teriyaki sauce, grilled to our request. I would definitely recommend it for beef lovers. Our third entrée was the Chilean sea bass: a very fresh and delicate filet, baked, and served on a bed of mixed greens and snow pea shoots, topped with bay scallops in a sweet chili and raspberry glaze. Overall it was well prepared and good, although the unexpected, slightly higher raspberry note hid the flavor of the fish. Perhaps that is a matter of taste.

Finally, for dessert—yes, we still had a little room for that—two fantastic crèmes brûlées and a scrumptious berry bread pudding; a soft and warm pillow of yumminess. The wine list is modest, but with a taste for everyone and a number of quite exciting names. My companion enjoyed a glass of wonderful Monrosso Chianti. Wines are very trendy these days; I would say that O’Brien’s Oyster Bar and Grill has composed a wine menu that really fits its atmosphere. Donnie, the manager, said, “We want people to enjoy the food, the entertainment, and have a good time.” Well, Chef Chris Giddins, at the helm of the kitchen as he has been for many years, did a fabulous job for us that evening. I would say, “Mission accomplished.”

Gilles Syglowski is a certified executive chef, certified culinary instructor, and a food service consultant. He is a graduate from the Lycee d’Enseignement Professionel Hotelier in Metz, France. He is currently the Assistant General Manager of the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. Mr. Syglowski has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry.