For steamed crabs on a waterfront setting we usually go to Crab Claw in St Michaels, or Mike's in Riva. Otherwise, the closest is Bethesda Crab House where the crabs are always good and spicy even though the surroundings can use some improvement. This time we wanted to try a different place so decided on Cantler's just outside Annapolis. Someone mentioned that the place could be hard to find so we printed out a whole bunch of google maps to make sure that we don't get lost. The maps were quite accurate this time (we've been misled by google maps many times before) so no trouble at all finding the place just past the Severn river bridge.
We got there at 1:45 and the whole place was packed, you had to wait at the entrance to the parking lot until one of the staff told you exactly where to park. Then we went in to put our name down on the waitlist, which looked formidably long and we knew it was going to be at least an hour if not more. Then again it was a Saturday on July 4th weekend so it wasn't unexpected. Main problem with waiting there was there's nowhere to go or sit but to hang around the parking lot, since the restaurant is at the end of the road and edge of a small cove and boat dock. There's nowhere to walk around and not much of a view to look at. We opted to wait for an outdoor table on the deck – which is divided into two sections, with or without cover, the latter had umbrellas, but the shade was patchy depending on the position of the sun. The inside dining room is a dive, not well lit, with very low ceilings, and crowded rows of communal tables – maybe cozy on a cold day but not in the summer. After all we didn't come all this way to sit inside. Anyway, we were given a beeper but it turned out that many of them were not working properly. You'd need to check after a reasonable lapse of time to get a better sense of the remaining wait time and to make sure that you are not crossed out by mistake in the confusion – which was what happened to us. Luckily we caught the mistake right after it happened (the beeper never went off either). The total wait was just about an hour, not so bad after all.
We ordered onion rings, steamed shrimps, and large crabs ($85 per dozen – there's also a super size at $110/doz but I couldn't imagine that being worth the money, the large was already the most expensive so far). Everything came promptly – the onion rings had really good batter but the onions were wide cut so very tough, the spiced shrimps (16 count for ½ pound) were tasty although a bit overcooked with slightly rubbery texture. The crabs were really good, even though they didn't look that large (we saw some mediums next table at $60/doz that seemed to be the same size). But they were all tightly packed with meat, no hollow ones, all the claws and legs were meaty as well. As my favorite part of the crab are claws, I was a bit dismayed finding about half of our crabs missing at least one, if not both claws. However that was remedied after I mentioned it to our server - who was super nice and immediately brought extra claws to make up for the missing ones. The seasoning they use here is more salty than spicy, which was fine with us. Try the crabs with vinegar too, it brings out the best flavor. Overall, I'd say for this occasion, it was worth the wait and we had a delicious crab feast. However next time, I'd try to not go on a weekend, and certainly not on a holiday weekend.