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May 27, 2008

Top Ten Places to Eat on the Water

TabrizisWater.jpgA lot of people won't be satisfied with this list because it doesn't have any Harborplace restaurants on it, and that's where their out-of-town visitors want to go. But I decided not to include any national chains, so that limited me.

If you want a great view of the water, you may have to settle for some good but not great food. My list took into account the view first, then the food.

Mark asked me to include whether smoking was allowed outside, which seemed to me to be a reasonable request except that I ended up making up this list yesterday, and I just didn't have the energy to also call every restaurant to ask. But if anyone knows, please post below.

Here's my list: ...

* Baldwin's Station in Sykesville is in a restored 19th century railroad station, but the tables outside overlook the Patapsco River. The food is New American and pretty good, and it's a fun day trip if you aren't venturing very far these days.

* Bonaparte Breads (903 S. Ann St.) in Fells Point. I'm glad Matt Hudock reminded me of this authentic French bakery that also serves lunch and brunch. This is the bargain version of great food and a view of the water.

* Carrol's Creek Cafe in Eastport. Whether you eat indoors or out, the view is great, the menu includes must-have Maryland seafood dishes like crab cakes and rockfish filet, and you're not far from downtown Annapolis.

* Charleston in Harbor East. When the weather is nice, there are three or four tables set formally with flowers outside the open doors of the Palm Room under the awnings. The full menu is available. A couple of tables just inside the doors also have a water view.

* Jesse Wong's Hong Kong (10215 Wincopin Circle) in Columbia. Best known for its Chinese dim sum, which can be ordered off the menu on weekdays. On weekends, the traditional dim sum cart is used.

* Nick's Fish House on the Middle Branch recreates an old-fashioned seafood restaurant with two decks and a rooftop overlooking the marina. It's one of the best bets in Baltimore for eating on the water. Thanks to Carol in Hampden for reminding me of this.

Severn Inn in Annapolis. When I ate there it had just opened, and the food was a bit uneven; but we had excellent crab cakes, whole trout and risotto. You can't improve on the view, either looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows or sitting on the multi-level deck.

* Sushi Sono in Columbia. The waterfront is Lake Kittamaqundi, but that counts doesn't it? This serene Japanese restaurant was given Zagat's No. 1 rating for food by readers in the Baltimore area.

* Tabrizi's in South Baltimore gets my vote if you have to eat in the harbor area. Inside or out, there's a water view at every table. Tuesday through Thursday you can have a three-course dinner and a glass of wine for $35.

* Sherwood's Landing is known for its award-winning food under Chef Mark Salter, an impressive wine list, service to die for, and a wonderful waterfront view. It's also very, very expensive. (This is the dining room of the Inn at Perry Cabin.)

(Photo of Tabrizi's by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:18 AM | | Comments (57)


For a non-chain water view on the harbor there's always the Rusty Scupper. The food is overpriced and not memorable, but on my one visit there I had a beautiful night view of rain falling on the harbor.

But the Rusty Scupper is a chain, isn't it?

Baldwin's Station is a lovely hidden gem of a restaurant. I haven't been for a while so will have to make it a point to go back again soon.

What about the Pisces in the Hyatt on Light street. That offers the best view of the harbor and city.

Harris's on the Kent Narrows has a great view from the upper deck. You can watch the boats go through the drawbridge. Food is typical crab house fare. Pusser's in Annapolis has casual dining outside and close up views of Ego Alley.

Jon, the Rusty Scupper is a chain, albeit not on every street corner. It's owned by the Stouffer (producer of microwave dinners in orange boxes) Corporation which is, ultimately, parented by the Nestle Corporation. Was that TMI?

Over in Middle River, the River Watch has a large deck overlooking Hopkins Creek.

I love Baldwin's Station! Of course I'm a little biased because I got married there... right on the deck overlooking the Patapsco.

There's no better deal than their Sunday brunch!

The River Watch does indeed have a very nice view. The food isn't the greatest, though.

In the "not in Baltimore" department, we had a decadent lunch of oysters, crabcakes, and lobster at Sea Catch in Georgetown on Friday, at an outside table overlooking the C&O canal. And we didn't have to bring our own wine. :-)

Derek - With all due respect, Pisces is only good for its spectacular view - imho. The service is spotty and attitudinal, the prices are exorbitant, the drinks are watered down, and the food is so-so.

Chart House in Eastport beats the pants off of Carrol's Creek... especially for brunch.

Sorry, no national chains on this list. But good to know. EL

The one time we went to the Rusty Scupper we took an elderly couple who couldn't otherwise manage walking around the Inner Harbor. They loved being there and the food was to their taste, as I recall.

Dahlink, is that "damning by faint praise?"

I'm so glad you listed the Severn Inn. This remake of a previously ho-hum place is notable for the new chef, Philip Sokolowski, who came there after many years at Sam's Waterfront. His food at Sam's was remarkably innovative and sometimes brilliant, and I think he never got the attention and kudos he deserved. I had heard that it was taking a while to get the menu changed over, so now I will make plans to go check out what he's doing.

Windows on the Bay in Pasadena??

Tell us more. EL

Mr. O.F.--let me put it this way--we have never been tempted to go back. But our guests enjoyed themselves.

Jesse Wong's Hong Kong - do they ever set seats outside? Whenever I've been there on weekends, there are none to be found. I'm pretty sure your water views are limited to be through the windows.

But you're looking at the same views that you see from Sushi Sono, since they're right next door. I know Sono has a patio area, but I don't think they serve food there...not sure on that one, though.

But both are excellent, definitely worth the trip, independent of the view...

I dunno, but I was struggling a bit once I eliminated the chains, so I figured from inside was OK too. EL

Piano Rob- I haven't been there before but, we had my sister's wedding there on Saturday. The food was wonderful, the bar was great (the bar tenders went above and beyond the bar we selected, to give the best drinks) the waiters and waitresses were wonderful very helpful and very attentive. However, other then that, I have not eaten there before. I would assume the prices are high. So on that note I would also say that, Capital City Brewery (no longer there) was one of the best places on the water in harbor place.

How about Deep Creek in Arnold?
Great brunch (must try the MD crab soup and mussles!) and a great view of Deep Creek and the Magothy River.

Windows on the bay in Pasadena, Directly located on the Magothy with excellent seafood dishes and both casual and formal atmosphere outside/inside. Have loved it for years!!

Does anyone know if the Dublin Dock still exists in Betterton? On a deck, on a hill, overlooking a white sand beach, the mouth of the Sassafras as it meets the Bay, and on a clear day, Baltimore. There is no finer place to drown a Guinness!

Just FYI... The Rusty Scupper is indeed part of a small chain but it hasn't been part of the Stouffer's Group since 1995 when it was sold to Select Restaurants (they're based in Cincinatti.)

The Bayard House in Chesapeake City is fabulous!

Capitol City Brewery ... mmm ... warm soft pretzels and mustard.

Ick.. chain or not, we want the food to at least be "good" on this list. Rusty Scupper is nothing more than a tourist trap that hasn't gotten over itself. Last time i ate there I actually detected imitation crab in my crab dip. Seriously?

Well this TTT is certainly becoming a keeper. So many of the small waterfront places are hard to find and only known to locals. A number of years ago friends took me to dinner on a creek somewhere in eastern Baltimore County. It was buried deep in a housing community and I would never be able to find it again. I'm thinking a number of the places listed are rather like this. (And no I don't remember the name. Food was only fair, but view was pretty.)

I don't think that Windows on the Bay is on the Magothy. If I am remembering my charts correctly, it's on the mouth of the Patapsco River, just as it is emptying into the bay. I think the Magothy is on the other side of that penninsula.

Does Cantler's count as a restaurant with a water view or is it just a crab house?

We had drinks and lite fare at the Rusty Scupper the other evening (walking distance, late and not too crowded) and it wasn't horrible.

There's Nick's underneath the Hanover Street bridge.

Capital City Brewery - Perhaps the best Porter I have ever tasted. It was the only reason I went to the Inner Harbor.

Timothy's in Fells Point. A combination you can't beat - Good food, affordable prices and a great view.

Waterman's Crab House in Rockhall - Great food and view -

I'll second kmc - Chart House is a million times better than Carroll's Creek (though I do like the CCC deck). However, like AlisaBS, I might be biased, since I had my reception at Chart House.

Unfortunately, I had a really terrible experience at The Severn Inn. It's a very pretty place and has an amazing view, and the food is usually good (if a little expensive).

However, last summer my husband and I stopped by for a drink and some appetizers in the bar. The bartenders were also acting as waitresses. The place wasn't busy - it was about half full - and the tables around us seemed to get decent service.

But not us. The bartenders completely ignored us - and I mean completely - until we went up to the bar to ask them to help us (no one else around us had to do that). When we did get help, it was unfriendly - curt.

After that, we had to go to the bar again (or flag someone down as they waited on the table next to us) every time we needed something.

It was noticeable enough that the people at the table next to us said something to us about it.

It's the only time I've ever been openly snubbed like that in a restaurant and I have absolutely no idea what brought it on. We weren't dressed inappropriately or saying nasty things under our breath or anything like that (until we got in the car. Then we said some nasty things.)

After that, I just can't bring myself to go back there, even if the view and the food are good.

Watertable (former Windows) in the Renaissance Hotel on Pratt Street has a great harbor view from its fifth floor location, even from an inside table. Food is good and not pricey by Inner Harbor standards. Chef really tries, as with the Slow Foods menu earlier this month.

If I can defend myself, Rusty Scupper is part of the Select Restaurant Group, but it's the sole location, just as Blue Sea Grill is owned by Serious Steaks (Ruth's Chris) but it's still the only one. Both of those qualify as non-chains to me, regardless of ownership.

AsI said, I would not recommend the Scupper as a place for wonderful food (although it's been years since I've been there), but they do have an outstanding view.

No need to defend, but there used to be a Princeton location and a New Haven location. EL

Thanks for the link to Windows on the Bay. We met friends there about a year ago and really enjoyed it. Then a few months ago, tried to find it again and couldn't figure our way back. Glad to hear that it wasn't an apparition!

This list is going on the fridge!

R(TSO), I would bet the place you were taken was River Watch in Middle River. That perfectly describes it. Great view, and the food's fine but nothing special. It's nestled at the back of the Middleborough community.

What about Hemingway's, the place you see on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake as you're driving across the Bay Bridge towards the beach? We had a very nice lunch there a year or so ago, and the view of the bay and the bridge were spectacular.

Severn Inn - don't bother unless (a) you're wealthy, (b) it's a special occasion, or (c) you're only having drinks and appetizers. I live in Annapolis (and until recently lived across the street from this place). While the food is good, it's way over-priced for what you get. Take it from a local, eat at Carroll's Creek, Pusser's Landing (in the Marriott Waterfront), or the Chart House if you're in Annapolis. And, while the view is good, the interior of the place looks like a restaurant in the Holiday Inn.

Windows on the Bay is on Rock Creek.

Props (the old Cheshire Crab) in Pasadena is good for what it is, and I second the kudos to Deep Creek.

The Tiki Bar at Pasadena Seafood have excellent homemade Nutty Buddys.

Isn't Jesse Wong's a local chain like Clyde's? Or are only national chains excluded? Anyway if Wong's can count then so can Clyde's in Columbia (on the same "lake" as Wong's) which has become one of my favorite places.

What about Hemingway's, the place you see on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake as you're driving across the Bay Bridge towards the beach?

It's been a number of years since I've been there, but I remember it as being kind of like the River Watch...not terribly memorable food, but good view. Although I think the river (or creek) view at the River Watch is more bucolic than the bay view at Hemingway's.

The Narrows on Kent Island is a hidden gem!

Thank you, Ms. Linda. Middle River does sound right. I can now take it off the list. And thanks for the comments on Hemingway's. (So too for the comments, by others, about Bayard House (their web site has the menu). I may have to take a couple of road trips this summer.)

The Bay Cafe on Boston St in Canton has outdoor seating, and some of the indoor seating also looks onto the water (whatever water that is). I work on the JHU Bayview campus so the Bay Cafe is convenient for lunch - and they have the best shrimp salad I've had so far in Baltimore.

Last month I took some relatives there who ordered the crab cakes and pronounced them delicious. Of course, they are from Kansas (my relatives, not the crab cakes). But then, so am I.

Up in the North Bay area you have Tidewater in Harvre de Grace, Portside Grill in Port Deposit, The Bayard House and the Chesapeake Inn are both in Chesapeake City, and the Kitty Knight house in Galena.

I was a little surprised to hear two good takes on the Chart House. I've found the Chart House to be one of the more disparaged restaurant chains. Regardless of the city I am visiting, the locals seem to always deride the high prices and tourist crowd at the Chart House.

RtSO: It also could have been the Middleborough Inn(deceased), Wilhelm's (deceased), or Whitey and Dot's (now Carson's Creekside.) The food is fair at best, though the deck is wonderful and quiet. On weeknight there is marginal boat traffic. Just you and serenity. After dinner at Carson's you can enjoy the newest waterfront park in the county, though the full view includes the backside of Martin Marietta.
EL thanks for straightening out the Rusty Scupper piece. I thought there was one in New haven when I was in college there. Though the place was the Chart House. Great steaks and a wonderful view.

wasn't there a Rusty Scupper in Columbia at one time? Could be geezin here again but thought there was....

Joyce W. -- yes, there was a Rusty Scupper in Columbia, though I was never there. There was yet another Rusty Scupper in Towson, at 720 Kenilworth Drive (next to The Shops on Kenilworth, in the freestanding building set back in the rear). I don't know what's there now, although that space was later occupied by That's Amore, and then Pat & Mike's.

Wild Duck Cafe off Carroll Island Rd, Eastern Balto County. Best hamburger I've ever had and really awesome views.

There was a Rusty Scupper in the Chicago suburbs years ago. I also remember dining at one in San Diego.

hmpstd: its now a car storage lot. I still miss That's Amore being a bit more local than Columbia.

hmpstd: thank you for validating my poor tired memory!
And, Rtso, I liked That's Amore in that location too. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure what happened to them in Kenilworth - it was packed every time we went there.

Ms. Joyce W. I'm guessing the land was sold out from under them. It certainly was not for lack of business.

w c - good call on The Narrows. Good food and view. I wish it wasn't SO far from Baltimore.

RoCK - I've never been to any Chart Houses outside of Annapolis, but actually I don't think the one there is too terribly touristy. At least not more so than every single other restaurant in Annapolis...

Too bad Victors Cafe had to move from their waterfront location downtown. They had the BEST view of the city skyline. Thay also had very good food and portions at very reasonable prices for a place on the water.

Victor's Cafe was the best! You could sit on the deck and listen to the concerts at Pier 6. Good food and free music. Miss Victors! You can still get the food at his new location in Timonium, but the atmosphere couldn't be beat...

Dockside in Canton has the best crabs. They are always heavy and nice and hot. They don't cook your crabs until you place your order. Their
deck is wonderful with shade and music. All this to help you enjoy yourself while eating crabs.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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