Located about 20 minutes (if there's no traffic) from; the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Free parking; lot. Cash only, although Bank Americard will be accepeted soon. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Accessible to wheelchairs. Some kiddie booster seats available.
Come Spring, we plan our first trip to the beach and look forward to hard shell crabs at Pete's Crab House, a barn-like eatery on Route 50 in Queenstown half-way between Bethany Beach and home. We headed there this year, as usual, only to find Pete's is now Capt. Jim's Seafood Kettle. The brown paper table coverings are now yellow flowered oil cloth, the place has been painted and scrubbed, and someone has set out fake lobster and crab shells to further dress up the place.
Where Pete's had an order-at-the-counter and grab-your-own-table system, Capt. Jim has table service. Where Pete's had hard shell crabs and little else, Capt. Jim is offering a full menu of seafood dinner and a selection of sandwiches as well as the crabs.
Even with the clean up job, the place is still for families. We were perfectly comfortable in our heading home from the beach attire and there were more children than adults at tables in the screend porch end or the restaurants.
We sat at a picnic-like table with pull up benches. You don't sit back here and savor dinner, you dig in and hammer away at the crabs.
The people at our table ranged from not at all hungrey to ravenous. Given the new range of choice and the fact they had been nibbling on snacks in the car, our children made non-crab selections. Our daughter, 10, had a shrimp cocktail - ($3), small green salad ($.75) and french fries ($.45). We considered her portion of five medium-sized shrimp over priced.
Our son, 9, had New England clam chowder ($.75), which he loved, and a hamburger ($.85), which was small, overcooked but charcoaled. He also had onion rings ($.75), which were pretty.
My husband and I started by sharing soft shell clams, which come two dozen to an order for $2.50. They were big, delicious, and an outrageous bargain when compared to the skimpy shrimp cocktail.
We followed the clams with small salads and half a dozen large hard shell crabs. The crabs were $14 a dozen but $7.75 for half a dozen. The crabs were well-seasoned and hot, but not as tender as we like them.We asked the new owners, Jim and Irene Smith, if the crabs were local. They said the locals don't come in until the end of May or early June - these were imports from Louisiana.
Our friends had soft shell crabs, sauteed with lemon and butter ($5.95). They found the crabs well prepared but he potato and vegetable forgetable. The dinner came with salad as well.
Capt. Jim's has beer by the pitcher or bottle ($.50) and soft drinks, coffee, tea or milk, all, for $.30 each. They also offer huge slabs of sharp cheese ($1.50) with beer or dinner. People at a table near us ordered cheese, couldn't finish it, and had it wrapped so they could take it home.
Our meal came to $20.04, including tax. We couldn't remember what the prices had been at Pete's, but we think the crabs are pretty much in line with what was. Mostly, Capt. Jim's is branching out into more expensive dinners, ($13.50 for lobster), but we were glad the new owners still considered steaming hard shells their specialty item. We liked it enough to plan on returning next month when local crabs are in stock.