Cantler’s has been serving steamed Maryland blue crabs and fresh seafood since 1974. The restaurant is located on the water, overlooking Mill Creek (which empties into the Chesapeake Bay, where the crabs are harvested), so it must be wonderful to sit at the picnic tables on the patio and eat by the water. Unfortunately, on this particular Sunday, it was raining, so we ate indoors.
Eating crabs is really a family or large party affair, as the tables are room-length and everyone sits side by side. Crabs are ordered by the dozen, by size: small, medium, large, extra-large, or jumbo. At Cantler’s the crabs are steamed in a pot with Old Bay Seasoning — a blend of herbs and spices, including celery salt, bay leaf, mustard seed, black and red pepper, cinnamon and ginger — dumped on top. We ordered a dozen large crabs for five people, which, with the sides of onion rings, corn on the cob, and crab dip, turned out to be just the right amount of food. The steamed crabs are served on a large platter just like in the photo above. Butter, vinegar and more Old Bay accompany for your dipping pleasure. But the crabs are so fresh and succulent that you really don’t need any condiment. The meat is so wonderfully juicy and tender — as long as you can get to it — that it stands on its own.
Photograph of Cantler’s crabs by Nick Violi. Click here for this photograph’s specific copyright information.