The Taste: The Point Crab House and Grill
Jun 12, 2015 10:04AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Story and Photography by Rita Calvert
Tucked away on the banks of the Magothy River and within a drive through a quiet neighborhood with traffic calming bumps and a school or two, pulses the very happening, bustling Point Crab House and Grill. Chef Bobby Jones tells us that the place just keeps on humming...winter and summer. Fortunately, the summer weather allows additional outdoor seating for the enthusiastic crowds.
What is The Point Crab House and Grill best known for?
I’m very proud of our entire staff at The Point. We’ve been able to set a high standard for our food, service, and atmosphere in order to make sure that our customers have a great time during their visits. The most consistent compliment I hear is about the food. That may be because I’m the one dressed in whites. My wife Julie, also gets tons of compliments about the service. If I had to narrow it to one thing, I’d say our food takes the top spot.
When entertaining at home, what do you cook?
Depends on the party. This past Christmas we had our best friends at the house and I made an old-school Beef Wellington with several decadent courses. That is unusual and was more of a special occasion meal. No matter what the event is, I always focus, first, on the quality and freshness of the ingredients. Simple, honest, straightforward food with well-balanced flavors are my tendencies.
What is your earliest memory in the kitchen? Do you have an affinity for seafood?
My earliest memory is with my Mom. I was probably nine years old and making dinner, particularly sausage stuffing for our family at Thanksgiving. To this day she still serves the same stuffing for the holidays. My kids love it, we all love it. What stands out most from that memory is that undeniable smell of sautéed onion and celery along with rendered pork fat from the sausage. Yum. The next Thanksgiving when I was ten years old, my mother agreed to let me roast the turkey myself and make the dressing alone. It was so much fun! I love seafood. We’re so lucky to live in Maryland with such great access to amazing seafood, although I wouldn’t say I have an affinity for seafood over other proteins. I love it all!
What was your background and training to become a chef and then restaurateur?
I started out like most chefs in the kitchen at a young age. Beginning at 14, I was a restaurant dishwasher. Then I started prepping at 15, worked the cold line at 16, and the hot line at 17. I was on the line for about five years before I moved out to the front of house and started waiting tables at 21, then tended bar, then on to restaurant management. This was all during my college years where I studied Fine Arts at UMBC. I was able to hold every position in the restaurant. I was committed to the restaurant business and studied the financial and business side on my own through books. Over time, I had worked for some great operators and some pretty bad ones, too. I noticed smart habits and systems, as well as sloppy ones. I’m in the hospitality business which is all about making people happy. What could be better?
Your restaurant changes menus seasonally, how do you come up with fresh menu ideas?
There’s so much amazing food out there and so many different things to try when creating new ways of preparing foods. I pay attention to trade magazines and cookbooks are my book of choice. My wife and I like to go to NYC and just eat and drink. It’s a lot easier to come up with ideas when spring hits and produce really starts going. Coming up with fresh menu ideas isn’t too tricky; narrowing down the ideas to what we can actually put on menu can be the difficult part.
You mentioned you now have your own baker. How did that come about? What is the baker responsible for?
Yes. We reached a place where we couldn’t keep up with some of the baking prep during regular business hours. We started a 1 a.m. shift for any of the cooks that wanted to earn some extra hours to make our baked goods. This idea became taxing for me and the staff. A better idea was to hire a full time baker who starts at 1 a.m. and works until about 9 a.m., five days a week. He currently makes our brioche rolls for burgers, our soft pretzels, focaccia, and country bread. During our current winter menu, he also makes the gnocchi, fresh ravioli, pastas, and other desserts. We have another prep cook who makes most of the cookies, brownies, cakes, corn breads, and other sweets. Everything in our kitchen is from scratch, except our ice cream, but we’re working on that.
Who are the local food farmers/producers you purchase from?
Our local bay oysters and crabs come from Mr. B’s and Joe’s seafood. We work with War Shore for our Battle Creek and Pungoteague oysters. The majority of my produce in season comes from Diehl’s produce in Severna Park where they buy from local farmers. We’re very busy and the folks at Diehl’s make it so much easier to get great produce from multiple farms at a great price, all through one buyer.
The structure of The Point Crab House is captivating. What was on this space before? Who is your designer? How did you come up with the glass garage door idea?
The space before was a large frame tent. When we started on the project everything was knocked to the dirt except the restroom building and a portion of the kitchen structure. We worked alongside the folks at Ferry Point Marina to come up with the “pavilion”-style structure and the county was quite specific in what we were allowed to replace. My wife Julie and I designed the interior space and the kitchen. The glass doors came from our research; there were similar doors at a restaurant where I worked as a line cook when I was 16, or so. They’re great and really allow us to keep the space comfortable and maintain the beautiful views during the cold season. I’m so glad we were able to have those installed.
As a food writer, blogger, food stylist, photographer, Rita Calvert has partnered in writing cookbooks and developed product lines to showcase the inspiration, art and nourishment of food. She is a blogger, photographer and advisor for the food world. The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up! is her most recent book with co-author farmer, Michael Heller. After owning a successful restaurant in California, she has now been an Annapolis resident for 25 years.
Bobby’s GazpachoServes 12
Chef Bobby serves gallons of this whenever they have it on the menu. He suggests making this large batch and keeping some in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Portions can also be frozen (without the garnish).
- 3 fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 24 oz. tomato juice
- 2 (28 oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, seeds removed
- and coarsely chopped
- 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (day old brioche)
- 2–3 oz. fresh Maryland jumbo lump crabmeat per person
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh chives, finely sliced
In one large bowl empty canned tomatoes, tomato juice, fresh tomatoes, and all of the remaining vegetables. Puree tomatoes and vegetables in batches in a food processor, leaving a bit of texture; pour into a large container. Add the olive oil, vinegar, white and cayenne pepper, salt, and bread crumbs. Mix well and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
Serve in chilled bowl, top each with 2–3 ounces fresh Maryland jumbo lump crabmeat, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and top with fresh chopped chives.