To Old Eastport
For five years they searched for the replacement bar and grill.
When Marmaduke's closed, a displaced culture sought its lost environment.
The seekers were maritime locals from that funky community of
Eastport, an enclave of spirited individuals with a sailing problem.
And we can't forget the international sailors who always stopped
by their favorite watering hole---they, too, were dazed by the
Not long ago, Dick and Susan Franyo, Eastport residents and seekers,
began their background research from Maine to the Keys. They were
looking for that perfect combination of delicious fresh food,
great drinks and a lively atmosphere. As Dick Franyo explains,
"We yearned for a wooden-shuttered cottage where we could throw
open the windows and take in a warm salty breeze, where the walls
were stuffed with photographs and the seats filled with lots of
When a property on the corner of Fourth Street and Severn Avenue
on the Eastport peninsula became available, the Franyos had found
the site where they felt the dream could become a reality. A salty
sea breeze and crusty maritime history energized the plan. A talented
local architect helped them escalate from an old frame building
that had housed various restaurants and bars---among them Patton's
Pub and The Wharf---to the light-filled and open, yellow board
and blue-shuttered Boatyard Bar & Grill.
Walk into space, air and light punctuated by a semi-circular bar---all
a combination of tradition and innovation. The menu covers feature
photographs of Eastporters and recognizable boats, including racing
dinghies and other reminders of eclectic and zany folks.
My ally in food and I dove into the shared appetizer of our choice,
the hot blue crab dip. We're suckers for any variety of crab dish
and this one was especially rich and flavorful. Lump blue crab
with Parmesan cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach and onion, baked
to a gentle golden brown crust and served with the house ciabatta
bread. The Caesar salad was super fresh, light and crisp and robed
in an ethereal house-made dressing.
Nothing but fresh fare here, including the breads, dressings and
sauces---notable among these is the mango chili served as a dipping
sauce on the Jamaican jerk chicken strips. Another is the spicy
lime marmalade served with the lightly battered shrimp rolled
in shredded coconut and quick fried. These and at least a dozen
other tempting selections are offered under the category of "bar
appetizers," but the attitude here is so friendly and flexible,
and they may be a part of your table selections.
My entrée selection was a "house specialty," the Boatyard crab
cake dinner consisting of two oven-baked lump crab cakes with
homemade tartar sauce, seasonal vegetables al dente and my substitution
of cole slaw over mashed potatoes. A great substitution in this
case, because this dish was unlike any other slaw I have ever
tasted---crispier, crunchier, spicier and much lighter. It and
other hints of Caribbean spices were proven true when I met general
manager and executive chef Tammy Reece who grew up in the Florida
Keys and learned many of her tricks of the culinary trade in the
The crab cakes (the most expensive item among "house specialties"
at $19.95) were like none other this crab aficionado has ever
tasted. Yes, large lumps of the freshest crab, again with those
haunting island spices, bound together with a mysterious and gentle
whisper, all wrapped in the merest hint of crust. Reece's crab
cakes are not in a competition---they're in a class by themselves.
My companion's entrée was the beer-battered fish and chips that
come as succulent pieces of New England cod dipped in Otter Creek
Ale batter and fried to a golden brown. He had just returned from
the Isle of Wight where they promote their fish and chips as "the
best fish and chips in the world." That world obviously did not
include the Eastport where, according to the diner, "the crispy
crust and moist tender cod was far superior at Boatyard." This
"house specialty" with good chips and malt vinegar was a modest
We enjoyed a bottle of '99 Sonoma Creek chardonnay at $25. Chef
Tammy is the wine expert and delights in helping with selections.
Desserts vary, and your friendly server (ours was Ryan Eber) is
on top of this. While in the mood, we chose the Key lime pie and
this citrus delight was the last soothing note in a symphony of
the freshest of foods.
This is a family friendly eatery; all ages are comfortable. No
reservations are taken. Just try to go early and don't forget
the outstanding fresh breakfast fare served on Saturday and Sunday
starting at 9:30 a.m.
Fresh is the key word.