If you aren't from, or familiar with old style crab houses of Maryland's Eastern Shore you probably wouldn't appreciate this restaurant. It's not fancy, doesn't have cute decorations, doesn't even have central air ( it does have window units though) and until recently didn't even have a modern television. The bathroom have circa 1950 fixtures and are the size of a closet, the floor is covered in linoleum and the ever present smell of steamed crabs is a reminder that this is a crab house, first, foremost and always. Ahhh what a great place!
When you enter the door and turn immediately to the right you are entering the original Tap Room dining room. You'll know you are in the right place because there is a bar that runs almost half the length of the room. This is the only place I want to be seated. Why? Well first of all it's like going home to me. I was served my first booze at this bar at the ripe age of 17 ( yes the legal age was 21 but that was life on the Eastern Shore back then) , I played my first slot machine here too ( also illegal but not hidden) and game of table shuffleboard ( you slid weighted pucks from one end of the table into a marked area for points, closer to playing surface edge resulted in higher score, to 21 , loser bought drinks and lost cash bet to winner) . After the game you had more drinks and hot steamed crabs. It was a great way to relax and spend time with friends.
Well those days and the owner of the Tap Room from that era are long gone. Today the place where the shuffleboard table use to stand still has a very long table that can seat as many as 24 people, directly underneath the big screen TV, but that's really the biggest concession to modern culture. It has it's advantages though because now you can see a game while you eat crabs. The slot machines are long gone (eventually the police raided the place and carted them away - again decades ago) and now a jukebox sits in their place.
The bar hasn't changed much at all, long, sturdy, stocked and still serving ice cold draft beer that will make your crabs go down smoothly.
The food? Is better than it was in the 70's and the menu is much more extensive. Choices include appetizers, sandwiches, salads and entrees and everything is delicious. Try the steamed little neck clams, or the soft shell crab sandwich, steamed shrimp, cheesesteak, spaghetti and meatballs, Old Bay steak fries or just go old school and get a dozen steamed jumbo's (my favorite) a few ears of corn on the cob (seasoned in Old Bay and butter) and a cold one. Don't worry about making a mess..the tables is covered in brown paper, the shells go in the plastic bucket and the roll of paper towels are there for obvious reason (and you won't get napkins).
The food is great because Sandy runs the kitchen, cooks much of the food and has been doing so for a long time, she's one of, but not the only, reasons the place remains authentic. If you are lucky and Diane is working you'll get a friendly greeting and great service from a woman who has been doing everything, including bar tending, here for twenty plus years. Everyone who works here is very friendly and works hard to make your visit enjoyable.
There is a recently renovated and much newer dining room to your left when you enter so that on busy weekends, Friday and Saturday night are the busiest, you'll be able to find a seat. Get here by 5 , or after 8 to avoid the crowd, or go anytime during the week between lunch and dinner.
TIP - MasterCard might be priceless, Visa might be for vacations and maybe you shouldn't leave home without American Express but you can leave all your credit/ debit cards in your wallet because another thing that has never changed here is that they only accept CASH for payment.
Prices are very reasonable, the food is good, the services is great and it isn't fancy. You can't find many places left like this. Tip generously, these folks work hard. Sandy always likes to hear that you enjoyed her food. Have fun. Who knows maybe I'll see you there someday.
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