By Christine Fillat | Photos courtesy of O’Learys Seafood
O’Learys Seafood is something of an institution, housed since 1983 in a charming frame house on Third Street in Eastport, just steps from the water’s edge. “We have a cult following of regulars,” says owner Wil Peterson. O’Learys serves its diners in two cozy dining rooms with a spare bar painted in marine shades and decorated with paintings of luxe aquatic scenes. The tables are elegant with white tablecloths and napkins. The place has a romantic under-the-sea kind of vibe.
An attentive server brings us a cocktail that sets the stage for the meal to follow. The Fear and Loathing is an intriguing concoction that includes Arette Blanco tequila, carrot purée, blood orange juice, mushroom simple syrup, and lime juice. The chilled orange beverage appears with a delicate sprig of thyme clipped to the edge of the martini glass with the tiniest clothespin. Layers of flavors subtly reveal themselves in this drink: the carrot purée counterpoints the acidity of the blood orange and lime juices, while a hint of mushroom lingers in a surprising but pleasant umami.
Appetizers continue the element of surprise. Crispy Buffalo Oysters taste exactly as you would imagine: perfectly battered and fried oysters coated in a blue cheese buttermilk sauce and a bit of hot sauce. If you are a fan of Buffalo wings and oysters, this is the dish for you.
Unfortunately, Mussels Meunière served some of the smallest mussels we have ever seen. The disappointment in the size of the mussels carried over into the sauce with which it was served. One of the principal side benefits of a bowl of mussels is the baguette served on the side. However, we found the brine—a super-light white wine sauce bobbing with several cherry tomatoes—wasn’t substantial enough to enjoy dipping the baguette.
The entrées arrived with mixed results. The wild halibut is a delicious fish. It is wonderful as is. Sharing the plate is a superfluous collection of cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives. A side dish of parmesan and truffle fries saves the day. They arrive hot and plenty salty, with slim curls of parmesan cheese and the earthy essence of truffles.
The Crispy Rockfish presents a beautiful, perfectly fried piece of flavorful fish with some jumbo shrimp. Atop the fish is a sweet barbecue sauce and a drizzle of chipotle aioli. A smattering of salsa is on the side. Everything sits on top of a dull hillock of black beans and rice, which could have used some attention from the kitchen. Minus the rice and beans, this was a very good dish.
Freshly brewed coffee accompanied our two desserts: Five Spice Flourless Chocolate Cake and Crème Brûlée. The chocolate cake was rather pudding-like, with hints of ginger. The crème brûlée was magnificent, with the caramelized glass of sugar on top to shatter with your spoon, just as you would expect.
In addressing the vagaries of the dishes, Peterson explains that the kitchen is going through a transition. There are changes in the works for the restaurant; we look forward to what he has in store for the future.
O’Learys Seafood Restaurant
310 Third Street, Annapolis, MD
410.263.0884 | olearysseafood.com
Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 5PM – 9PM
Friday & Saturday: 5PM – 10PM
© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 3 2022