458 Forest Beach Rd.
There are some traditions I’m glad only come around once a year.
Like Valentine’s Day. Road trips to Vegas. Or midget wrestling at the local minor league ballpark.
Sure, they’re fun, but once a year is enough.
For me, sitting outside along the Chesapeake Bay, drinking beer, and picking crabs is kind of like that.
For one thing, if it were more than an annual tradition, I’d go broke.
Cantler’s on Mill Creek in Annapolis set me back $150.
That’s $150 for 5 cans of beer, a side of hush puppies and a dozen steamed crabs.
Holy moly. I just wanted to while-away a few hours out on the deck. I didn’t offer to buy the damn place.
So I know, you’re dying to know.
The answer is no. No, it was not worth $150.
For one and a half Benjamins, they should be the crabs of my dreams. Unfortunately, they weren’t even close.
The first crab I picked up had been so over-steamed, the meat inside was practically nonexistent. Same with the second one. No crabmeat, just crab mush.
That’s a problem.
Picking crabs (besides being expensive) is hard work. In fact, I’m pretty sure I burn more calories than I consume in the process.
A good old-fashioned crab feast is about sitting outside on the water, the sun shining, cans of ice cold cheap beer and good conversion.
It’s an event, not a meal.
That being said, you still want some actual crabmeat for all your hard work—and hard-earned dough.
So I brought my defective crabs to the attention of my waitress and manager.
They brought me out a few fresh ones and asked me to keep the others in the hopes I just got unlucky on the first two. They seemed reluctant to trash an entire tray of crabs that cost almost as much as AirPods. Imagine that.
Well sure enough, the rest were somewhat better, but all were a bit mushy – even the “fresh” ones they brought out. But not a single crab produced that satisfying sensation of pulling out a big hunk of firm crabmeat.
I have no idea what the problem was.
Cantler’s has been packing them in for 45 years. Surely they haven’t forgotten how to steam crabs.
A four hour wait on the weekends is not unheard of. And nobody in their right mind stands around for hours waiting to eat lousy, over-steamed crab mush.
But maybe that was the problem. Remember how reluctant the manager was to toss my tray of bad crabs?
What if Cantler’s ended up with a bunch of leftover crabs from a smaller than expected weekend crowd?
That’s the risk you take coming to a crab house at noon on a Monday—and the day after the hottest weekend ever recorded in Maryland history, by the way.
Is it possible Cantler’s served me warmed-over crabs leftover from the weekend?
For their sake, I sure hope not. There’s no quicker way to torpedo a hard-earned four decade reputation.
To make matters worse, the bright summer sunshine gave way to ominous black clouds, then thunder — and finally rain.
No sunshine. Lousy crabs.
Thank goodness for beer and hush puppies.
Unfortunately, Cantler’s only serves beer in a can. For $5.25 a pop.
By rule, I ordered the least ubiquitous beer available.
In this case, that was Land Shark—a beer brewed by Anheuser Busch at their Jacksonville, Florida brewery. It tastes suspiciously like Budweiser.
But hey, Anheuser is paying Jimmy Buffett millions of dollars a year to use his trademark, so that makes it cool, right?
Well, I guess I’m just a sucker for good marketing.
Which brings me to the hush puppies.
Crabmeat doesn’t provide much sustenance. You need a basket of hush puppies to ensure you don’t end up leaving your $150 dollar meal drunk and hungry.
Canter’s hush puppies were okay, but not anything near legendary status. In fact, I didn’t even finish them. After three hours of picking, cracking, hammering, and drinking, I was done.
I couldn’t eat one more puppy or lick one more morsel of Old Bay crab mush off my fingertips.
Of course not because I was full, but exhausted.
Like I said, crab feasts are hard work. Thank God I have a whole year to recover.
But next time won’t be at Cantler’s. I just can’t.
Rating: Wouldn’t Wear Shirt If They Paid Me.