Annapolis- Butcher's Block and Wild Caught Seafood
Just came from a visit to Annapolis and there were two visits every foodie should consider when they take their next 40 minute trip from the nation's capital to Maryland's capital.
The first is on east bay, to Wild Caught Seafood. A father and son who are local fishermen decided to get into retail and they've opened up this cute store off Second Street at the far end of the east shore in Annapolis. I don't recall the hours, but they are open Saturday and Sundays.
They have great prices on locally caught crabs- while they were out of the large and jumbos by early afternoon on Sunday, the prices for mediums (which would be large at the DC waterfront) were two dozen for 40.00. While quality is variable depending on when crabs are caught these were very lively, extremely fresh and both heavy and full of crab meat.
They also had nice large softshells that were also very fresh. For 5.00 each they can't be beat! On top of that there were also little neck clams that were from the area and they tell me oyster season starts next week so they'll have those too.
No place to sit- this is a little, clean, retail store, however they do have mallets, cute crab "newspaper" and local seasonings to go. Also, a couple blocks up on second is a small coffeshop (on the right as you leave Wild Caught). Very good coffee, tasty, inexpensive thin crust pizza, some locally grown produce and flowers that are both seasonal and beautiful!
Second stop was Butcher's Block off Riva on Harry Truman (I think exit 22). It's a small store but what a neat selection of prime, choice, American Kobe and exotic meats! Beautiful cuts of the best looking steaks I've seen in a while, had an American Kobe boneless prime rib (26.00 per pound) that was out of this world. Bought some elk, buffalo, and elk/bear burgers for the freezer as well as a small pc of foie gras that I can't wait to try.
I understand from other threads that they'll deconstruct a pig or a side of beef from time to time and I put my name on the list at the store if they do it again. I don't know what the terms will be, but I'd gladly go in with 10-15 people who would take 5-10 pounds each, or pay like $10 each for a few hours of watching an expert deconstruct a pig or a side. They also have homemade sausage, corned and roast beef done in house, a nice little selection on wine and a freezer case full of odd, interesting and tasty packets that's well worth a look. Also noticed a new sushi place that opened next door that we'll stop at the next time we're there...
Halfway between Baltimore and DC, full of quaint charm, Annapolis is a fun afternoon gettaway for any chowhounders!
If you're in the area, I actually prefer My Butcher and More, which is now in Annapolis, to the Butcher block. Obviously the more butcher's the better in a butcher starved area. Both skew high end, but I think the specials are better at My Butcher and More, and they're extremely nice there as well.
The coffee shop you mention is Leeward Market. They have great sandwiches and pizzas as well. Both Wild Caught Seafood and Leeward Market are in the Eastport section of Annapolis.
Wild Caught is basically on Back Creek, just off the bay. I have heard mixed reviews- that prices are better @ Mike's & Cantler's, but it is nice to have a place so close to downtown where you can get local crabs. They will steam the crabs, clams and mussels for you as well, I believe at no additional charge. If you want to eat them somewhere nearby I recc'd the Maritime Museum, which is very close by and has benches and picnic tables on their deck along Back Creek.
I've not heard good things about Mikes and I don't believe either Mikes or Cantler's sell uncooked crabs, or at least it is not what they're known for and what I bought. I don't believe, on the one time I've been to Cantler's, that the prices are nearly as good. Further, I doubt that Mike's are local crabs much of the time. Wild Caught is a small seafood store, whereas Mikes and Cantler's are full-on restraunts, so no real comparison.
The correct name of the seafood market is "Wild Country Seafood", and it is owned by the last full-time watermen in Eastport, the Mahoneys. Father and son still go out everyday to catch and then sell the crabs at their market. (This is what makes this place truly special as their is no other outfit of this kind in the Annapolis area)
You are certainly right that you cannot even compare this establishment to Mike's for many reasons besides the fact that the latter is a full service restaurant. Besides, Mike's freely admits to importing their crabs from LA or TX. Apples and Oranges here.
Cantler's does still have a hand in doing their own crabbing so most of the crabs they sell is local, but again, it is a restaurant and therefore also not comparable. Their prices are never considered too reasonable especially after the onslaught of Food Network Shows and other publicity that has everyone headed to this shack, guaranteeing top dollar.
My Butcher & More just relocated from Crofton to Annapolis so it will be interesting to see how they do being just miles apart from the other store. I've had more experience with the Butcher Block and I have to say their customer service is top notch. I bought some prime rib-eye awhile back and it just didn't live up to the price or the promise. I contacted them right away to let them know in case I may have been slipped a choice by mistake. They immediately invited me back and presented me with a gigantic slab of prime beef that was delicious. I certainly will try My Butcher and More too to give them some business, but I certainly am happy with Butcher Block.
Whatever the reason, I am certainly glad to see Annapolis upping the ante. This area is ripe with folks that are well traveled, well educated, have well seasoned palates and have the discretionary income to support higher end establishments. Now if only the restaurant owners would take notice, and quit bombarding us with every form of crab mutation imaginable, and put some effort into upgrading their inconsistant, mediocre and unimaginitive food. Maybe that's why two prime establishments can co-exist. Everyone is cooking at home.
I live fairly close to the Clock Tower complex, which has been mentioned in many other posts. We really like all the establishments there, and Praline (which was JUST mentioned on Kojo's noon hour WAMU show) is a very good and authentic French bakery (really more of a patisserie, but they do have baguettes and salads as well).
Any other ideas/recommendations about:
-fairly priced dining? (We like Joss, like the view but not so much the food at Yellowfin, like the dive ambience and are mixed about the food at the Mexican Cafe, and would love to find more locally-owned neighborhood joints.)
Thanks -- let me know if another thread's going that is more appropriate.
Pralines is an excellent new French bakery; I like all the small food establishments in the Clock Tower shopping complex.
Yellowfin has a 1/2 price appetizer special that many of my neighbors like -they just go for drinks and apps.Good view, pleasant environment, not particularly noisy. It has a late middle age clientele and definitely a meat market feel to happy hour so just don't make eye contact with that solo guy at the next table.