Eat Bertha's Mussels
but nothing else!
Lovely time at Bertha's - always fun and the mussels are really outstanding but I just wanted to post this tip for other visitors: make a lunch or supper of the mussels and skip the entrees.
We stopped in for the first time in several years and because it was dinner time we ordered entrees along with our mussels. Bad idea. The next time we go, we'll have the mussels as a snack with a beer or make a meal of a salad and some mussels. Our large party ordered several different entrees and while none were inedible, they were all lackluster. The shrimp was particularly bad.
So I don't care how touristy it is, Bertha's is great but stick to the house specialty!
Get this - we ordered two different varieties of mussels and one came sauced while the other arrived with the sauce (butter and capers) on the side.
The first was FAR better in my opinion but actually my friends liked the other. The one in the broth (white wine with a little butter and some sort of onion, shallots maybe?) had much more flavor, in my view, and you could sop it up with their lousy bread.
They really should get better bread but then again the broth is so good that you don't really care.
At any rate, I think that perhaps the 'butter' sauces all come on the side while the brothy or tomato based sauces are incorporated.
It's about $2.00 more to have the mussels cooked in the sauce. We like the plain steamed with garlic butter on the side-first sauce included at no charge and an extra of any variety is $1.00. You can also go all the way with a spread of all 10 sauces on the side for about $4.00 extra.
We hadn't been to Bertha's in years but went to Balto for a long weekend. Our best afternoon/evening was duckpin bowling at Patterson's followed by an AYCE of 7 orders of steamed mussels at Bertha's between the two of us followed by a shared gelato next door. Enjoy these icons of the past while they still exist.
So, we decided on our last nite in the Fells Point area to try Bertha's Mussels. Now I have to admit, I personally did not eat the mussels as I had my fill elsewhere the night before - but my family wanted to go - so off we went.
First thing, we waited for what seemed like an inordinately long time for someone to show up at the hostess desk (granted it was a Monday nite, but ???) So we wandered back and got a waitress attention, she said to hold on and came back to get us to the open dining room a few more minutes later - lucky we were in a laid back mood and not ravenously hungry is all I can say.
So everyone else ordered mussels and were very happy with them , esp the sauce sampler.
I nibbled on a few - and while very fresh and tasty - I prefer a more euro-style bowl of mussels steamed in wine& garlic....
I had the oyster stew, just ok, but did have a bowl of steamed spicy shrimp which was outstanding.
Forget any notion of fawning/attentive service - as I said we were "lucky" to get seated and once we did, no one was in any hurry to work our table. Example: "hi, aren't we supposed to get bread with the mussels (1/3 way eaten)?"
"oh yeah - was just going to bring those out (rrrr..ight)"
Nonetheless - was an adequate spot to enjoy the "grub" style ambiance and some decent food and cold beer, prices were fair for what you got
I guess I would say don't go in hungry and thirsty and enjoy the ride......its worth at least 1 visit if you are around Fells Point.