Baltimore Good Eats – Thames Street Oyster House
August 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
Now having gone to college in Baltimore for three years and being the foodie that I am, you’d think I would’ve scoped out the best crab cake by now, right? Baltimore is well-known for its fresh, delicious seafood and even more famous for its crab cakes, all thanks to the Chesapeake Bay, which can really use some more lovin’ instead of our plastic shopping bags and fertilizers… the environmental engineer part of me can talk about this for ages but you can check out the Chesapeake Bay Foundation website for more info on how you can help preserve the bay so we can get back to talking about food.
Anyway, if I got a dollar every time someone asked “Where can you get the best crab cake in Baltimore?” or “Can you bring me fresh crabs and crab cakes when you come back home?”, I’m sure I would have enough money to get an awesome crab cake from Faidley’s or Mo’s or…
Well that’s kind of the problem with the first question. Every crab shack and restaurant wants to claim it offers the best crab cake in Baltimore but here’s the secret- there are simply too many great ones to choose the absolute best! I must admit, it’s a pretty great problem to have when you live in Baltimore. Of course there are subpar ones around too but a crab cake with a maximum amount of tender, moist lump crabmeat and minimum to no filler is not exclusive to a single eatery.
Baltimore crab cakes are almost purely crabmeat with a dash of Old Bay (an absolute must), mayo, lemon juice, parsley, and a few other simple ingredients and seared to perfection on both sides, rather than breaded or deep-fried like some other “crab cakes.” Last Thanksgiving, I made a version of this Baltimore classic for brunch that were easy but also delicious and satisfying.
One example of a Baltimore crab cake done right can be found at Thames Street Oyster House (1728 Thames Street, Baltimore, MD 21231) in Fells Point. It has a great crispy crust on the outside from the use of a cast iron skillet, which also serves as your plate, and the interior is moist and packed with flavor. The crab cake is seasoned in such a way so it is delicious yet the crab is still front and center. Simpler is better. Grilled asparagus, sweet and sour beets, and a rémoulade are terrific accompaniments to the crab cake.
Now let’s talk lobster rolls. I absolutely love lobster rolls as they’re delicious and such a summer staple in my opinion. I know New England, especially Maine, is super proud of their lobster rolls but I gotta say- the lobster rolls at Thames Street Oyster House are no joke. I have yet to enjoy the New England counterpart but as of now, this lobster roll is the best one I’ve ever eaten.
The bun is buttery and toasted golden brown. The lobster meat is fresh, succulent, sweet and seasoned well with salt and plenty of butter, with even more butter on the side if your little heart dares to indulge even more (yes, I suppose you can call this a Connecticut-Style lobster roll).
In addition to the cooking of the lobster meat, I think salt and butter are the two determining factors that differentiated other boring lobster rolls that I had previously from the memorable, euphoria-inducing lobster roll at Thames Street Oyster House. I’m drooling and missing this lobster roll as I’m typing this. The broccoli slaw was also really flavorful as it was loaded with cheddar and smoky bacon. The entire dish is indulgent but worth every bite.
Of course, the unspoken rule at an oyster house is to order oysters. I tried oysters from War Shore, VA; Blue Point, CT; and Kumamoto, CA. Blue Points were my favorite with their mild flavor, slight sweetness, and plump body. War Shore oyster was good and I would order it again but the Kumamoto oyster was my least favorite because it was too firm for my liking. However, I’m still an oyster novice and have much to learn about the gastronomic world of raw oysters.
Because there is always room for dessert, my friend and I split the beignets served with a Maine Root blueberry soda float and buttermilk ice cream. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed with the flavor and texture of the beignets – they were bland and not as airy as I would have hoped.
The blueberry soda float was unique and I actually ended up liking it, especially since the root beer flavor was mild. The buttermilk ice cream at the bottom gave the treat a nice creaminess and cut through the sweetness of the soda. However, next time I would probably make a stop at the nearby Pitango (802 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231) for the best artisan gelato and sorbet to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Disregarding dessert, Thames Street Oyster House is exceptional and I highly recommend the seafood dishes since they are fresh and extremely well prepared. It has a friendly, fun atmosphere with beautifully simple white walls and blue trim that remind me of a beach town, which is fitting because the restaurant is just a quick stroll away from the water.
For some reason, Thames Street Oyster House is still kind of under the radar for a good number of people living in or visiting Baltimore since most people tend to flock to the Inner Harbor instead of the cute historic district of Fells Point with its cobblestoned streets. Nevertheless, the restaurant can get very busy so you definitely want to snag a reservation ASAP. Lucky for you, you’re now in the know of some of the best seafood in Charm City.