Restaurant Review: The Point Crab House & Grill
Jun 19, 2017 11:34AM, Published by Arden Haley, Categories: Eat+Drink+Shop
Open Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; live music Wed-Thurs 5-8 p.m.; Happy Hour Mon-Fri 3-6 p.m.; no reservations; wheelchair accessible; major credit cards accepted. $$
An All-Season FeastBy Mary Lou Baker // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.
Bobby Jones and his staff at The Point Crabhouse are gearing up for their busiest season as Maryland crabs come back to the Chesapeake Bay in record numbers. Open since 2015, this prime location on Mill Creek quickly garnered numerous accolades for chef Jones, including TV appearances, the title of Best New Chef from What’s Up? Annapolis and a “best” designation for the Point’s crab soup; inspired by his grandmother’s recipe.
Two years later it has gotten positive press from Travel & Leisure, Better Homes & Gardens, and Washingtonian and Baltimore magazines. The restaurant was runner up in a 2016 ranking of best crab house in the region by the Baltimore Business Journal. But Jones is too busy to rest on his laurels. He is too intent on sustaining The Point’s reputation as a prime destination for crab feasting and elevated comfort food in a family-friendly establishment where “everyone knows your name.” And he is always tweaking the menu to take full advantage of the changing seasons—although the deviled eggs inspired by those his Eastern Shore grandmother made are always on the menu, as is her memorable Maryland crab soup.
Despite its off-the-beaten path location in an Arnold residential community, the restaurant is a year-round favorite for families living nearby as well as the boating community who like the convenience of complimentary docking for up to 12 to15 “normal size boats” in 12 to 15 slips. If coming by car, my advice is to let your GPS do the driving; if coming by boat, call ahead for slip availability.
Upon arrival at your destination, park wherever you can find a spot in the adjacent boat yard and scamper down the hill to your destination. Picnic tables seating 100 on the waterside verandahs flanking the restaurant are popular in fair weather, while the 80-seat indoor space features wind resistant insulated glass siding on three sides of the building. A clever design, similar to a garage door, allows the doors to be adjusted according to the weather.
We have enjoyed visiting The Point numerous times and in all seasons. With the restaurant’s “first come: first served” policy, expect a wait that can be smoothed by a libation at the bar. There’s not a bad seat in the house, where every table has a water view. A collection of photos decorate the back wall, telling the story of Maryland’s seafood industry. Décor is nautical, the mood super-casual, and the overall ambiance friendly for families, date-nighters, girls-night- outers, and everyone else looking for some first-rate seafood or one of the best burgers around.
At this time of year (we visited in March) the menu includes mussels, shrimp, oysters, clams as well as Maryland crabs, most from the Wye and Chester rivers. A huge blackboard suspended from the ceiling lists sizes and market prices for hard shells—steamed when they are ordered and served on tables covered with brown paper. Jones takes pride in his traditional menu, adding his own twists to seared scallops by bedding them on creamy grits studded with shards of green apple, lardons of bacon, scallions, and dried cranberries. Applause. That same evening was also a super-busy Wednesday night, when a lot of folks come to take advantage of half-price bottles of wine and the kitchen was operating at full tilt—a challenge, when most everything is made to order, including salads which are reliably fresh, and never over-dressed.
On our recent visit, the house salad was an eye-pleasing mélange of romaine lettuce, fresh baby spinach, goat cheese sprinkles, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, green apple slices, and red onion moistened with a honey vinaigrette. It could make a satisfying light meal when paired with a side of house-made cheddar biscuits or jalapeño cornbread—both representative of the “twists” Jones adds to his menu.
He has kept up with the taco trend—especially for the colder months when crabs are still nestled in the mud. True to form, Jones adds another dimension to his shells, tucking a soft flour tortilla into a crisp corn tortilla as double-stacked cargos for with lettuce, baby tomatoes, onions and pieces of battered cod (my choice). It was a messy meal, but healthy and very fresh. My companion’s choice of fish and chips featured the same seafood encased in a beer batter partnered with hand-cut fries that are a hallmark here. Grilled salmon is the restaurant’s highest-end entrée at $26, with most menu selections in the teens. The menu changes seasonally, with a meat loaf served with garlic potatoes and house made tomato relish, chili made with Guinness paired with homemade cornbread reflect Jones’ talent for adding something new to something old. “Everything is made in-house except ketchup, mayo, mustard and ice cream,” says Jones. Also, we buy Martin’s potato rolls for our crab cakes—can’t seem to get away from that.”
Desserts are in-house creations on the short list of sweets. A creative baker named Bryan even came up with a “fried cornbread sundae.” While tempted to try it, we shared a generous hunk of chocolate cake with two scoops of classic vanilla ice cream.
Every table was taken and the bar was packed on our weeknight visit. Our server was cheery but frazzled, and another staff member was quick to help out when needed. The staff at The Point seems invested in their jobs and trained to treat guests like family. They learn their lesson well from Jones and his wife, Julie, who is the charming front-of-the-house greeter. Be patient, enjoy the view, speak over the happy talkers, and enjoy a casual evening on the water.
P.S. More food news: Look for Jones’ new restaurant, Ketch 22, in Herrington Harbor South to open this summer.