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Balto lunch: Good, non-chain seafood options?

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I am officially out of the loop about Baltimore city, having not lived and worked there for over a year.

Where can I go for a nice, medium-priced seafood joint for lunch? I know McCormick and Shmick or M&S Grill are options, but I don't want chains.

Should I give John Stevens a chance to redeem itself? Or go for something new like Ryleigh's Oyster or Mama's On the Half Shell? Raw bar and steamers are great, but would like options for a nicely-done piece of fish, too. Other places I should consider? Is Red Fish still a good place to go? I have had some ROCKIN' meals there, but this was years ago.

Outside of Balto city proper is an option. I am open to anything!

Thanks much.

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  1. go to Mamas on the Half Shell!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: hon

      Hon, why do you love this place so much? What is your favorite item? What would you recommend? I think I went there once and remember thinking it average. Please give me a reason to give them another shot!

      1. re: venera

        Sounds like you enjoyed your lunch there. I like it because the food that I have had is always good and I find the place comfortable. My favs are the titanic salad, clams casino, the mac and cheese, the crab cake, steamed shrimp, raw oysters, the caesar salad...guess I have alot of favorites!

    2. Gertrudes at the BMA has a really good lunch- and many good seafood options esp. the crab soup w/sherry

      I haven't been to john Stevens for anything but to eat steamed shrimp at the bar, quality had really declined however some picky friends of mine went their recently and enjoyed it- I don't know if any other CH's have had recent experiences but maybe it is worth a try.

      Lunch seems hard in this town, lots of good quick markets and even a few good sandwich joints but so few restaruants do the lunch thing.

      4 Replies
      1. re: poached

        Hey all,

        My friend chose Mama's, and once we got there I remembered that I had been there before, but didn't remember the meal.

        We both had the seafood chowder, which was fantastic! Creamy but not uber-rich, chock-full o' seafood, herbs, and that applewood bacon really added a nice touch.

        My dining companion inhaled his burger: it was huge and he enjoyed it.

        I ordered the seared tuna app on red and yellow tomatoes with beans and a mustard vinaigrette. Good idea, fair execution. The tuna was over-seared (I should have said very rare) and the vinaigrette was swamping everything in the plate. The vinaigrette itself was average. Next time I'd order it on the side, or ask that they dress it with a light touch.

        They were very efficient over lunch, and service was quite friendly.

        The food was good but not "oh my god" orgasmic good. This is probably why I don't remember the meal I had there about 2 years ago.

        1. re: venera

          I had lunch there recently. A couple of observations:

          The crab chowder was off the carts salty. So salty, I could hardly eat two spoonfuls.

          The seafood chowder wasn't salty at all. Quite tasty, but the shrimp were over done.

          I ordered the tuna steak sandwich MR, blackened without the bun with a a side of seaweed salad. It came out MW. I guess, order rare if you want anything other than MW.

          That said, the service and ambience are awesome. The rest of the meals were spot on and everyone raved. I guess, being a foodie, I am a little picky....

          1. re: chesapeakesun

            I have personally never gotten the appeal of Mamma's despite several tries. The cod fish cakes were really dry, the soups all swimming in salt or old bay, and I felt the same as venera with the tuna tar tar. The food at Redfish was great when Ted Stelzenmuller was the chef, but the place has gone out of business a few times since that chef has left there and opened his own restaurant. It is still closed at the moment. I would recommend Meli in Fells Point for a nice lunch with seafood options. Lovely scallops , the best tuna tar tar I have EVER had, and a yummy lobster mac and cheese!

            1. re: kelarry

              I would definitely check out Ryleigh's. I think they do a very good job and have some interesting choices on their menu. They also have a wide selection of oysters. Their menu frequently changes and while the lunch menu sticks more to a selection of sandwiches, you can order some decent entrees as well. I think their cream of crab soup is delicious.

              Also, I completely agree about the cream of crab soup at Mama's. It is like a salt lick.

      2. If you don't mind standing in a crummy environment for lunch go to Faidley's Seafood Market in the Lexington Market and have the best crab cake sandwhich anywhere along with some fresh shucked clams and oysters and a cold beer and you will be in heaven