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Stoney's - was I expecting too much of its crabcake?

  • l

Spent my Columbus Day in Calvert County. Flag Ponds S.P. was closed unfortunately, so I combed the sands of Brownie Beach near Chesapeake Beach for sharks teeth.

I went to Stoney's on Rte 4 in Prince Frederick for lunch at 12:30. I greatly looked forward to the crabcakes, although at first I wanted to smash & eat a 1/2 dozen steamed crabs & was told they had none (tho down at a nearby roadside vendor there were crabs). I had a bowl of average crab soup ($4.95), a dozen crisp hush puppies ($3.50), & the small (4 oz) crabcake "ball" at $10.95. I guess I was expecting a better taste to it. I've had just as good at Cantler's near Annapolis (with a nicer waterside setting) & that place near BWI & Ft Meade - I forget the name. I keep reading & hearing how the crabcakes at Stoney's are supposed to be the very best in the DC-Baltimore area. The cake was fine but not stellar. And service was too slow for a 1/2-empty restaurant. I'll go back to Cantler's instead...

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  1. You went to the wrong Stony's. Although it may be owned by the same people the Stony's which is directly on the water (the original) is every bit as atmospheric as Cantler's. Like Cantler's it's really difficult to find, about three or four miles back off of the road with a couple of more turns.
    Personally I believe that Cantler's is, overall, Maryland's best crab house. But only for crabs. Stony's has excellent, thick, creamy, buttery cream of crab soup along with good homemade cole slaw, good pie and crab cakes that rival Angelina's on Harford Road in Baltimore. (Angelina's, by the way, was retired to the Baltimore Magazine Hall of Fame for "best crab cakes." I agree with this.) I don't know about $10.00 but the last time I had them they were, I think, $13 or 14 for the sandwich and in the mid 20's for the platter. Angelina's, Captain's Galley (in Crisfield, another legendary crab cake place) all charge well over $20 for a crab cake platter. They have to. Lump crab is $26 a pound on Maine Avenue and $38 in Fresh Fields. As for the taste of what you had in Lexington Park I don't know but the other Stony's is the basis for the reputation. This crab house features a "floating" barge for a dining room. Their "Marylaned Crab Soup" is decent tomato based and their seafood chowder is a good cream based soup. But the soup they are famous for is their cream of crab. (Best cream of crab I've ever had in a restaurant was at Steamboat Landing in Galesville about 15 years ago which, then, was a different owner. I have its recipe which was published in Southern Living and it is incredible. Heavy whipping cream, butter, white wine, bit of stock and a LOT of backfin crab. Probably too expensive to make in a restuarant today, then it was $7 or 8 dollars a bowl.)
    I've never cared for most of Cantler's sides. I've always felt their reputation was justifiably earned as Maryland's best crab house as well as its most atmospheric sitting directly on the water. (Happy Harbor in Deale is another good one along with the Crab Claw in St. Michael's and Robertson's in Pope's Creek.)
    As someone who has searched for years for the best crab cake the following are what I believe to be the best.
    1. Angelina's on Harford Road in Baltimore. (Note:
    their crab imperial is also the best of its kind.)
    2. Captain's Galley, Crisfield, MD (Has a big article
    from the New York Times on the wall proclaiming it
    the best crab cake in the world. Of course
    O'brycki's has a NY Times article also but their's
    is about it as a crab house. Cantler's, the REAL
    best crab house, has never been visited by the
    New York Times.)
    3. Frog and the Redneck, Shockoe Slip, Richmond.
    White table cloth restaurant that is Richmond's
    best. Crab cakes are all lump and superb.
    4. Stony's, Four miles off of Route 4-but NOT the
    Stony's in Lexington Park.

    Good crab cakes are also at Bo Brooks ("Imperial crab cake"), O'brycki's, Prime Rib (both Baltimore and K St.; this also has excellent crab imperial only a notch below Angelina's) and Jerry's Seafood in Lanham where it is called a "crab bomb." This last is arguably the best Maryland style seafood restaurant in the D. C. area and generally unknown outside of P. G. County where it is legendary. (In other posts I've talked about Johnny's Half Shell on P St. and Kinkead's but neither is Maryland style.)
    A personal theory is that if the crab cake isn't exhorbitantly expensive then they are not using a LOT of LUMP crab meat; rather they are emphasizing filler.
    Sorry I went on so long but I've spent 30 years driving around the Bay looking and found some incredible places ranging from a red barn outside of Cambridge (or was it Salisbury?, whatever it had a big local reputation) to more places at foots of bridges or down winding roads that I care to remember. However discoveries like Cantler's and Stony's before they were well known made the search worth it.

    23 Replies
    1. re: Joe

      If you're looking for the best crab cake then you must try G&M, 804 Hammonds Ferry Road, Linthicum, MD 21090. Their stuffed shrimp are the best. Now if you're looking for the best cream of crab soup I suggest you try Crossroads Pub in Dayton, MD (who, by the way, was listed among the top crab houses in Maryland and they're nowhere near the Bay; they're located in a little one-horse town in central Howard County).

      1. re: Mel

        That's the one I went to a few months ago - I forgot the name. It's actually a crab ball. It was fine, but the same level as the Stoney's on Rt 4 I visited - not outstanding. Best crab soup I ever had was some rich crab stew, not too thickly cream-based, and definitely not tomato based. Few veggies but choc full of fish & crabmeat & spices. It was served at the MD Wine Festival years ago in Westminster, by one of the food vendors there. Yummmm

        1. re: Mel

          G&M does have great crabcakes. Don't know if they're THE best in Maryland, but definitely the best anywhere near BWI. They're about the size of a tennis ball and packed with a nice ratio of lump. As of a couple weeks ago they were running about $9.75 per. G&M was highly rated in the Post's late Crummy But Good column (it's crummy, but not oppressively). If the place is packed, as it often is, the carryout next door can provide quicker ... even crummier, gratification. Also had excellent crabcakes at The Narrows on Kent Island, which had a high proportion of lump. Not as huge as G&M's, but slightly less filler and a bit creamier ... with a non-crummy view of the water.

        2. re: Joe

          Agree about Cantlers for the crabs, and Jerry's seafood for the crab bomb, or whatever they call their crab cake. But be forewarned - Jerry's Seafood is expensive, especially for PG county. And it's always packed! If you don't go early for lunch or dinner, you will wait for a long time, outside....

          1. re: Joe

            I know this is a restaurant site, not a cooking site, but I have query about crabcakes. I had some fabulous crabcakes last week--the best I've every had. I bought them uncooked at the Price Club/Costco in Arlington, and fried them in olive oil and butter. Now, I've had a lot of bad crabcakes at various places, and I've never been to the great places recommended on this site. So can anyone compare for me the great restaurant crabcakes with this kind, prepared and sold uncooked?

            1. re: Bob B.

              Best uncooked crabcake in the state of Maryland is undoubtedly at Box Hill Pizzeria in Abingdon, Harford County, Maryland. Huge jumbo lump crabmeat makes up every one, and they sell them uncooked as well as in the restaurant.

            2. re: Joe

              Frog and the Redneck in Richmond is no longer.

              1. re: Jack

                The Frog and the Redneck was terrific. When did it close? And why? Where is Jimmy Sneed cooking now?

                1. re: NancyDC

                  It closed some time ago. I was told that Jimmy Sneed wasn't spending very much time in the kitchen. I travel from Charlottesville to Richmond just to eat there. I did not think it was that good. Veg-overcooked etc.

                  1. re: Jack

                    Several years ago it was nominated for a regional James Beard award. I believe Zagat had it listed as the highest rated restaurant in Richmond for food. I have not been in about a year and a half but then it was an excellent restaurant. If it had been on K St. it would have been in league with Kinkead's or Vidalia.

              2. re: Joe

                You have certainly piqued my interest. I would really like to try the crabcake and crab soup at this original Stoney's on the water. It sounds great. Can anyone provide a phone number or directions to this "difficult to find" one?

                1. re: Andrew

                  The original Stony's is in Broomes Island, MD. From the beltway go down Route 4 past Dunkirk (five or six miles?) to Broomes Island Road. Turn right. You'll go back almost to the deadend which is probably about two or three miles. Just before you run into the water (!) there's a small road that runs to the left. Turn left there and go back again to the deadend. Probably several hundred yards. Left again and you'll see it on the right.
                  This, like Cantler's in Annapolis, is one of the most difficult restaurants that you'll ever try to find. Don't hesitate to knock on a door and ask a total stranger how to get there! But it's worth it. If it's warm sit outside on the floating barge.
                  Remember this: if you like their crab cakes (and you will!) then you're going to have to make the pilgramage to Mecca on Harford Road in Baltimore at the nondescript, improbably Italian townhouse, Angelina's. And when you go to Angelina's order both their crab cakes and their crab imperial and spend 30 minutes or so trying to decide which is the best crab dish you have ever tasted in your life.
                  Overall you'll probably like Stony's better because of the atmosphere (if you can sit outside) and the "adventure"
                  of getting there. Don't go to Prince Frederick as the other writer did. It's nowhere near as good.
                  Stony's also has good pie.
                  Last, I wouldn't go after dark. You may not find your way back to Route 4.

                  1. re: Joe

                    These directions to Stoney's in Broomes Island are incorrect.

                    Go to Yahoo and open their yellow pages search engine. Enter Stoney's on the first page, and enter Broomes Island on the second page. On the third page, click the hot link (the name of the restaurant) to get a map.

                    Broomes Island is located on a peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay, and is nowhere near the beltway.

                    You can use Mapquest to get what appear to be pretty good driving directions.

                    1. re: Sam Stevens

                      Broomes Island is at the dead end of Broomes Island Road which is Route 264 directly off of Route 4. I don't know why you think it's near the Chesapeake Bay because it's not. Or that Calvert County is a peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay? It's on the Patuxent River, clearly marked on Rand McNally's road map. Also why would you think a restaurant in Calvert County would be near the beltway?
                      I've been to this restaurant five or six times over the past several years and I think I know which body of water I've eaten crabs floating on. I'm sorry you felt the need to misdirect people to a restaurant you've never been to.

                      1. re: Joe

                        You're right--I have never been to Stoney's. That's exactly why I asked you for clearer directions in my earlier posting. When you failed to reply, I simply went to the Yellow Pages/Mapquest for directions. So if there is any misdirection, then it's coming from Mapquest, so feel free to e-mail them with complaints about their accuracy.

                        In the mean time, if their directions are not correct, please provide more clarification for someone who is not from the D.C./Baltimore area and may want to travel there to try these restaurants.

                        1. re: Sam Stevens

                          It's good that we got this sorted out (yeah, Mapquest isn't always all that reliable, alas). so....this would be a great point to return to cheerful chow talk!

                          1. re: Sam Stevens

                            Gentlemanly response. My apologies if I over reacted.

                          2. re: Joe

                            Stoneys is on the Patuxent river in Calvert County, south of Prince Fredrick, and north of St. Leonard on the map. If you take Rte. 4 south from the DC Beltway, you need to go south past Prince Fredrick by about 4 miles or so. The turn for Broome's Island is approximately 35 miles south of the Beltway. (this is an estimate based on my daily 60-mile one-way commute to DC from southern MD) There is a sign for Broome's Island road, you go right, and follow the road for 7-8 miles. Once you get to Broomes Island, there isn't a good sign, but its on the south (left) side of the island, and in season, follow the traffic. My favorite way to get there is by boat! Stoney's has a new branch in the Solomons Island area (on Dowell Road, at the Calvert Marina, across the creek from Solomons Island proper) that opened this year. Its called Kingfisher's. I have not tried it yet, and I think it is closed for the season. I think the Broomes Island Stoney's also closes for the season, so call ahead before you go.

                    2. re: Joe

                      Could you give more specific directions to the original Stony's? (I live in N.C.) I have looked at Mapquest, and I can't find a Broomes Island Rd anywhere in the vicinity of Dunkirk, Md. To complicate matters, Mapquest indicates that Broomes Island is in another part of Maryland across the bay.

                      Thanks for your help.

                      1. re: Joe

                        joe pleasse tell me you have heard of crab puffs i remember having them years ago in the rivera beach/glen burny aria they were so good i cant forget them. i live in calif. now if you have heard of them please give me the name adress and tel # if you know how to make them let me know. they were brought home to me on a sandwich while i was visiting in rivira beach on our way to calif, about 25 years ago. if you put it on the calif message board go to the map click calif. go to los angeles and click on that thank you dotty

                        1. re: dotty

                          I've had crab puffs at the old Bo Brooks when it was on Bel Air road in Baltimore. It seems that I've seen them on a number of menus but usually I've ordered crab cakes and crab imperial instead. It's funny how things we take for granted when they are readily available become near obsessions when they are no longer around.
                          I would kill for a double-double, animal style right now!

                          1. re: Joe

                            You are TOO right about that. What I can't get over not having is a nice stack (3) of green chile enchiladas, meat with the fried egg on top, rice, beans and tortilla on the side, Mesilla Valley style. Oh, and a dozen good tamales, not like the fatty, no-filling-having Salvadoran abominations you can get in DC area.


                        2. re: Joe

                          If you think Angelinas crabcakes were good, then you have to try Box Hill Pizzeria in Abingdon, Maryland, just off I-95. They have been serving crab cakes in Harford County for 30 years. Definitely the best crab cake I have ever eaten, and this is confirmed by their business of (crabcake to the tenth power sales). You have to eat it to believe it. Huge pieces of jumbo lump make up every one. Not just a piece here and there.