Price range: Dinners from $6.50 to $14.75 (for stuffed lobster tails); children's portions $3.75.
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.; Sunday noon to 9 p.m. Closed Monday.
Special facilities: High chairs and boosters chairs; wheelchairs can be accommodated for lunch, but lines make it difficult in the evening.
Reservations: Not accepted.
Credit cards: None accepted.
Crisfield was recommended by friends who enjoy a good fish dinner. To see for ourselves, my daughter Natasha, 7, her friend Imoni, 6 1/2, and I drove up Georgia Avenue to an unprepossessing block just north of the District line. The girls quickly spotted the neon sign with a picture of a fish and the front window holding a net filled with plastic crabs and lobsters.
A sign on the door informs customers that credit cards are not honored and that the management "reserves the right to serve only those properly attired." Proper attire, it said, does not include halters or bare feet, while cutoff shorts are permitted at the bar only.
The horseshoe-shaped bar, which filled most of the front room, looked like a seafood lover's paradise. White-coated, no-nonsense waiters and waitresses briskly served plates of fish and coleslaw and glasses of beer drawn at the bar.
Although it was 6:15 on a Tuesday evening, there was already a short line of customers waiting for tables in the dining room. When we left an hour later the line extended around the bar. Waitresses told us the wait is often long on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
The girls asked a waiter for a menu, and we spent the short time in line discussing what to order. The decision was not an easy one. The menu offered many kinds of fresh fish and shellfish - fried, broiled, sauteed Norfolk style or in salads. Foir fish haters there is fried chicken for $4.50.
The narrow dining room - if anything, plainer than the bar - has rows of formica-topped tables along two walls. Some customers were asked to sit with another party, but the three of us were given a good-sized table to ourselves.
While we waited for our orders, Imoni and Natash took in the ecetic decor, pointing out heart-shaped coathooks along one wall and a long shelf of beer steins stretching the length of the opposite wall.
Crisfield offers children's portions of several of its more popular dishes for $3.75. Natasha ordered fried shrimp and Imoni got one large butterfly shrimp stuffed with crabmeat. Both got generous portions of coleslaw and french fries. They also could have had one of the daily specials - flounder or sea bass - either fried or broiled.
The hungry children did not have time to fill up on the large buns we were served before the main course appeared. The size of the children's portions was adequate for the two girls, but an older child might want an adult serving.
I had very buttery crabmeat Norfolk style, served with coleslaw and french fries, for $8.50. All the shellfish was fresh and tasty, but not very highly seasoned. Other adult-size platters included: soft shell crab, $8; the fresh fish of the day, $7.50; 12 fried cherrystone clams, $6.50; crab or shrimp creole, $7.50, and a combined seafood platter with crab cakes, shrimp, fish and scallops for $8.50.
We all agreed that the coleslaw - freshly made and a little sweet - was vastly superior to that at the neighborhood fast food franchise. So were the french fries, which as Natasha pointed out, "taste more like potatoes."
The girls were even persuaded to try the cocktail sauce, and both liked it although Imoni thought it "a little burny."
There were only two desserts on the menu -cheesecake, which is light and cheesy, for 90 cents and blue chesse for $3 - and the girls quickly decide on the former.
Crisfield's was a hit with Imoni, who announced that it was the kind of restaurant she likes. "I feel just like a home."
A waitress who had been talking with the girls noticed Natasha eyeing the remaining bun and brought a brown bag for her to take it home. It made a good sandwich for the next day's lunchbox.
The entire meal, including milk for the girls and beer and coffee for the girls and beer and coffee for me, came to $21.40, excluding the tip.