That just goes to show that when it comes to dinner, there are a whole lot of people who want familiar fare. And in Baltimore, that means crabs—steamed crabs, crab cakes, crab balls, crab fluff, crab dip, soft crabs…you name it, if it can be made with Callinectes sapidus, LP Steamers has it.
LP Steamers is a rowhouse bar, long and narrow with picnic-style tables along the side and a table and chairs in back. When you walk in the door you get that lovely whiff of Old Bay. Perfect. And there is no doubt about where you are—the enormous Orioles schedule pinned to the bar is a big hint.
The food is prepared at an immaculate station behind the bar. The seafood comes raw, fried or steamed, and there is a small grill for burgers and such.
But why on earth would you want a burger when you can get mounds of steamed shrimp ($13.95-$ 20.95 a pound, depending on size) or a dozen oysters on the half shell ($10.50?) Or clams ($7.25 a dozen) or mussels ($5.50 a dozen)?
We started out with the crab dip ($8.95). You can pretty much tell what’s in store for you by sampling the crab dip at a crab house, and LP Steamers does very well indeed, with Old-Bay laced crab flakes tossed in plenty of cream, topped with American cheese and broiled to a fare-thee-well, so the cheese gets brown and crusty. You take this molten creamy tasty crusty stuff and slather it on a Ritz cracker and pop the whole thing down. It is likely to burn the roof of your mouth and it will be worth it.
We passed on the burger and ordered a crab cake platter ($15.95) and fish and chips ($8.50).
The crab cake was made of backfin meat, fried and served with cole slaw and shoestring fries. The cole slaw was freshly made and flavored with celery seed, vinegar and a touch of sugar, and dressed with the tiniest bit of mayo. It was very good. The fries were crisp, and the crab cake was tasty. It reminded me of the crab cakes they used to serve at old Memorial Stadium—about four ounces, not too much filler, not too salty and prepared with just enough spice. It’s a good Baltimore crab cake.
The fish, which was a breaded and deep fried filet of whiting (also called lake trout in these parts). It too was laced with a little Old Bay and nicely, crisply fried.
We finished up with some cream puffs ($2), which were filled with ice cream and heated till the cream got warm, then dusted with powdered sugar. It was a good finish to a good meal. The coconut cake also looked good, but we were pretty much at the end of our budget.
Another sure sign you are in a Baltimore bar: the draft selections are Miller Lite, Coors Light, Sam Adams and Yuengling, and the wine list is Chardonnay, white Zinfandel or Merlot.
Our meal came to $40.97 including tax, not bad for a seafood feast.
LP Steamers, 1100 E. Fort Ave., is open every day. Winter hours are 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., summer hours 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays, noon-8 p.m. winter, 10 p.m. summer. Crabs are available all year round, for eat-in or carryout. Call 410-576-9294 to order.
By Jacqueline Watts