When you think of Maryland what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Crabs! Now it’s downright impossible to get Marylanders to agree on exactly who serves the best crabs and crab cakes. Since we couldn’t get a straight answer, we did the next best thing and let history be our guide. That lead us to Maryland’s own Phillips Seafood. Known as Maryland’s “Crab Ambassadors”. Did history lead us wrong? Read more to find out!
Founded in 1914 as a seafood processing company A.E. Phillips & Son processed much of the fresh crabs and seafood that came from Chesapeake Bay. In 1956, they decided to expand from processing and opened their first seafood restaurant in Ocean City, MD. From that day forward, Phillips became synonymous with delicious Maryland style seafood. For our visit we decided to head to their Baltimore Inner Harbor location. It’s inside an old building that was once a power plant. From the moment we walked into the restaurant, we knew we had made a good decision. It was comfortable and filled with lots of old nautical decor that really set the mood.
The staff was also warm and welcoming. Our server gave us the run down on the menu and was happy to make some suggestions and recommendations. We started out our meal with a couple of appetizers. I ordered the Oysters Rockefeller which were on their seasonal menu. They were mighty tasty and I found the presentation on rock salt pretty creative.
Lauren went for one of her favorite seafood dishes, seared scallops. They were paired with an intriguing apple polenta that was a pleasant contrast to the saltiness of the scallops.
For our entrees, we both set out to try the purest form of seafood we could find. There’s no sense in ruining great seafood with heavy sauces that mask the delicate flavor of quality fish. With that in mind, Lauren ordered the Broiled Seafood Platter. Her plate came covered in stuffed flounder, shrimp, scallops, and a mini crab cake. Can you say NOM NOM NOM??
Being an absolute lover of crab cakes and on the hunt for the best Maryland Crab, I went for the Ultimate Crab Cake. The dish features 8-ounces of jumbo lump crab meet served with a side of heavenly crab macaroni & cheese and grilled asparagus. Now when I ordered it, I was expecting to be served a typical crab cake, which is usually all smashed together with breadcrumbs and lots of other fillers. You can imagine my surprise and delight when my plate showed up with the Incredible Hulk of crab cakes on it. This thing was MASSIVE and didn’t have one drop of filler on it. The crab cake was so ripped and shredded it could be on the cover of GQ.
We all know looks aren’t everything though, so how did it taste? I took one bite and my taste buds found themselves in some undersea Garden of Eden. It was crispy, delicate, and succulent and that doesn’t even begin to describe how good it was. I’m drooling while I’m sitting here trying to think of words that praise it enough. I could spend the next week stringing together adjective after adjective and not effectively describe it. It. Was. That. Good.
After glutting myself on the mother of all crab cakes it was time to move on to dessert. I didn’t think I had the room, and then it showed up.
What you’re looking at here is the Phillips signature warm bread pudding. Now I will admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for bread pudding, but this dish made it up to my top 5 favorites bread puddings of all time. It’s warm and comfy and not overbearingly sweet with a nice cinnamon contrast. Good bread pudding requires a delicate balance and the team at Phillips have found it.
Lauren and I both thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Phillips Seafood. The combination of food quality and environment made it a wonderful spot to enjoy a special occasion or just a nice romantic date night. While I normally avoid chain restaurants because they usually loose something as they grow beyond their roots, Phillips has managed to stay true to it’s heritage.
601 E. Pratt Street
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