Annapolis Seafood Market

$$$$ ($14 and under)
Annapolis Seafood Market photo
Lois Raimondo/The Post

Editorial Review

Though the parking lot at this fish-and-produce market is packed during lunch and dinner hours, folks are not just picking up fresh seafood to cook at home. They're also ordering platters to go and other carryout.

The 20-year-old shop is run by Annapolis resident Nick Bassford and his family, who also own Edgewater Seafood Market, Waldorf Market and Severna Park Market.

The prepared food is put together by a cluster of cooks in vaguely nautical-looking attire. They work in a kitchen toward the back of the shop, tucked behind a counter showcasing crabs of all sizes. An old-fashioned sandwich board with press-in letters lists the daily specials, which are usually made from what's plentiful or popular, such as the porgie basket ($6.99), the scallop platter ($11.99) or po' boys ($5.99 to $8.99). Or the occasional aberrant jerk chicken.

"Sometimes the guys get inspired," says manager Alison Simmons.

The Fisherman's Platter includes a crab cake, shrimp, sea scallops, clam strips and lightly fried, fresh-tasting fish ($16.99). The batter is a nice complement to the sweetness of shellfish or a flaky fillet. "Our platters sell like crazy," Simmons says. All include french fries and cole slaw (or rice and a vegetable for $1.50 more).

For more fried with that fried, customers can choose other sides, including beer-battered onion rings and sweet-potato fries (each $2.79). Order your flounder sandwich ($6.99) with the fish grilled or lightly fried, served on a potato roll with house-made tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon.

Hearty soups and stews are also among the bestsellers. A succulent cream of crab soup (cup, $3.49; pint, $6.99; quart, $11.99) is thick with lump crabmeat and seasoned with Old Bay, white pepper and celery seed, served with an optional drizzle of sherry. A meaty New England clam chowder ($2.99, $4.99, $7.99) is loaded with clams, diced potatoes, bits of applewood bacon, celery and shallots.

Many Marylanders get the crab cakes, of course, says Simmons: heaping mounds of backfin ($18.99 for one-third-pound cakes) or jumbo-lump crab cakes ($35.99 for two half-pound cakes), made with imperial sauce, "a little bread crumb" and Old Bay seasoning. The BLT sandwiches feature soft-shell crabs (seasonal, $8.99) that are pan- sauteed or fried, served on a potato roll with fries and slaw. Choices for the seafood-squeamish are few. A decent cheeseburger ($3.99), market chicken salad sandwich or sub ($3.99 and $4.99), chicken wing basket ($6.99), chicken tenders ($3.99) and chicken tender sandwich ($5.99) are options -- unless an order of classic hush puppies ($2.99) counts as dinner.

-- Melissa McCart (Good to Go, June 10, 2009)