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What's Up Magazine

Dining out at O’Learys Seafood Restaurant

Sep 15, 2011 11:47PM ● By Anonymous

310 Third Street, Annapolis • 410-263-0884 •

When to Enjoy:
5–10 p.m. Monday to Thursday,
5–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday,
5–9 p.m. Sunday

Expect to Pay:
$11–16 appetizers, soups, and salads
$29–35 entrees
$7–13 glasses of wine
$28–222 bottles of wine

“The combination of tomatocilantro salsa, Chipotle aioli, and a hint of zingy barbecue sauce [on the fried grouper] brought the whole dish to life.” — Gilles Syglowski

O’Learys has been an Annapolis landmark for more than a decade now, as well as an annual winner for seafood at What’s Up? Annapolis’ “Best of ” awards since the competition began in 2004.

Always keeping up with trends, owner Paul Meyer has changed the menu gradually over the years, always with the goal of staying on top of offering fresh seafood with the finest culinary preparation. The restaurant is located near the waterfront in Eastport; however, it doesn’t exude a maritime feel. Instead, it has a cozy and charming ambiance with warm colors on the wall, black tablecloths, and contemporary art. Combined with the floor-to-ceiling windows on the side of the dining room, it has a quite an elegant look.

We were greeted and seated, and then told the specials by our waitress, Dana, who also took our drink order. I’d like to mention the level of professionalism by the staff, who seemed to follow the credo, “Here when you need them, not here when you don’t.”

We had a bit of a challenge when ordering—the menu was too appetizing, and it all sounded good. First, we tried the Black Bean Bisque with crab ($12), one of the daily specials. It was light, but with a smooth texture. The Shellfish Stir Fry ($13) was just as impressive, with little clams, mussels, baby corn, and julienned carrots in a Hoisin black bean sauce. Hoisin sauce can be very strong, salty, but sweet at the same time, but when balanced with the black beans, it was extraordinary. A shared Salad Palima ($12) was the perfect transition before our entrees. A bed of fresh spinach was garnished with grilled asparagus, mozarella cheese wrapped in prosciutto, and hearts of palm, all drizzled in light sweet and sour vinaigrette. Again, it was a nice balance of flavors, texture, and seasonings.

When ordering our entrees, it turns out we all wanted the Crispy Florida Grouper with Gulf Shrimp ($29), and for good reason—this is an absolute winner. The fish filets were fresh and flaky, fried crispy as promised. It was accompanied by shrimp and served over Jasmine rice. The combination of tomato-cilantro salsa, Chipotle aioli, and a hint of zingy barbecue sauce brought the whole dish to life. We weren’t as adventurous for our second dish, ordering the Maryland-Style Crab Cakes ($33), which were delicious.

The cakes have a good amount of crabmeat with light seasonings that let the accompanying aioli shine. The fried green tomatoes on the side were simply succulent.

And finally as our third choice, we selected the Zarzuela ($35). This classic Catalonian shellfish dish, consisting of Lobster, shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and littleneck clams that are steamed in a spicy tomato, saffron, garlic, pepper, almond, and white wine broth, was well done: tasty and fun to eat. I have experienced many versions of this dish and candidly will rank this one among the top. A side serving of jasmine rice and stir fry of snap peas and peppers fit well, although the rice was slightly overcooked.

I thought it appropriate to order a glass of French red Cotes du Rhone wine with this dinner. The wine was of outstanding quality and closed the dinner perfectly. The wine list is well-designed, with an additional great selection of “by the glass” and half bottles. The variety has tastes for many palates and wallets, featuring many regions, countries, and varietals.

To end this wonderful evening on a sweet note, we ordered a scrumptious Coconut Cake ($9), thin layers of moist cake with coconut cream, then accentuated with a mango sauce. I settled on a homemade Mixed Berries Shortcake ($9), plump and sweet strawberries, firm and juicy raspberries, tossed in a berry coulis served with a warm shortcake: Perfect.


Gilles Syglowski graduated from the Lycée d’Enseignement Professionel Hotelier in Metz, France, and is a certified executive chef, certified culinary instructor, and food-service consultant. Mr. Syglowski has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry and is currently assistant general manager of the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C.