Well, as you know, I am continually on the search for “just right” places, where everything (setting, food, service) harmonizes to complete a positive experience. Can be casual, informal, or haute cuisine, but all elements need to be in place and work together.
Fitzie’s Marina Restaurant and Pub (Down near Compton on Joe Hazel Road) has long been on the list as a candidate, I think when we first moved here years ago we did a drive by, and added it to potential elevation. Well, years passed, actually decades, and finally yesterday provided an opportunity to visit.
Every year a local civic service association I belong to (that runs the Oyster Festival) has an “end of the season” Oyster Roast to celebrate the bivalve. Of course now in the day of aquaculture, and the Triploid oyster, we can have fresh ones year ‘round, just not so called “wild caught” specimens.
This year it was decided that we would go to Fitzie’s, so I was eager to take advantage of the opportunity to check it out. If you want to quit reading, I have to admit that it will not make the list.
It failed (my criteria) on a number of counts. First of all, the physical building should reflect its location and the tradition of what is thought of as “waterfront dining”, and since there is a marina there, a restaurant is an expected companion as it is throughout Southern Maryland. Instead of a building commensurate with a marina it is a “modern” building, which has no hint of the waterman tradition. I don’t know if there was a fire, or just a remodeling, but aside from water views, it could be anywhere in the county
The interior, while pleasant, again bears no relation to place
There are several “rooms” a main dining room in front and a bar area in the back with tables on both sides. (And fairly loud music over loudspeakers)..
Since we were a group, we had a special buffet set up for us, and a dedicated “shucker”.
The other general food was set out in steam pans, included the usual items for this kind of an affair: fried crab balls, fried chicken, fried oysters, fried potatoes, a garden salad, green beans, and steamed shrimp.
Before grabbing a plate, I stopped at the bar, and asked if they had Guinness (traditional companion to Oysters) and was told they did. Great, I’ll have that, and proceeded to head for the buffet. Since I am regrettably doomed to a restricted Sodium diet, I stayed away from most of the “fried” stuff, only allowing myself two crab balls. Upon returning to the table with my plate,
with my "Guinness" waiting for me
As an aside, why the pundits at Guinness decided to mimic “American Lager” and call it Blonde totally escapes me. Guinness draught beer is one of the best around. Especially if you get it in Ireland where pasteurization is not required. I did not find it unique or have any distinctive character.
So a second trip to the buffet resulted in a better choice
Of course others at the table had more traditional choices, also appropriate for Southern Maryland
I am not sure of the relation between Fitzie’s and a financial outfit.
As for the quality of the food, I would say it was just about as expected. Shrimp were on the small and flabby side, the crab balls seemed to have a lot of filler, and the chicken a bit dry (according another diner’s evaluation), but not bad, just average.
As for the Crassostrea Virginica, their origin seemed to be debatable, from “the seventh” to Delaware. They were generally believed to be wild ones.
The presentation was uneven
Some were not completely cut from the shell as in the “7 O’clock” one above, some had been kind of molested (the 12 O’clock) taken from the shell:
not real appetizing
And one diner noted the “black gook” on some (hinge end on the 3 O’clock)
They did however, have good flavor.
Their fried brothers weren't exactly great either, at least not what I've experienced elsewhere
Just for completeness, I peeked at their menu
Which I suppose would have to be “just right”, double laminated plastic, all the usual stuff found in the preponderance of similar places. Funny, I always thought “Crab Cake” was one phrase word. I hardly ever see it anymore without it being preceded by “famous”. Who decides these things? A formal poll? Consumer survey? I suppose they don’t want to put on the menu “our average crab cake”
Anyway as far as our event went, it was fun, but mostly due to the setting, I will have to leave it off the “just right” list. A friend described the place as “dining in a barn, and if you turn around, you see….another barn”.
As with most any waterfront place, it is up to you how you