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Al's Seafood
1551 Eastern Blvd
Essex, MD 21221
Phone: (410) 682-4828

www.als-seafood.com

- Article & photos by Allison H. McAlister -

For close to 30 years, the family-owned and operated Als Seafood has proudly served fine seafood to its customers from its warm and cozy dining room. Being seafood lovers, my family and I couldnt believe wed lived in the area for 10 years and had yet to dine at Als Seafood, so we were really looking forward to the opportunity to finally try it. Although the restaurant opened in 1982, Als Seafood Carryout has been in its current location since 1974, when the owners expanded on their carryout market located in Fells Point by opening a second location. Al Strzegowskis parents opened the location in Fells Point back in 1961. Als mother was a member of the Rippons family, who owned a seafood packing house in Hoopersville, Maryland. The seafood industry is in the Strzegowski blood and Als Seafood is a family affair. Als wife Judith, who passed away in October 2010 after a hard fought battle with breast cancer, often took over hostess duties on the weekend. Als son Chad currently runs the family business, while daughter Cara helps out in the dining room every now and then. We were fortunate enough to have Cara as our server when we visited on a recent Friday night for dinner. The restaurant was packed - we were lucky to get a table - but Chad said the crowd was unusual for a Friday night. Friday nights are usually our slower weekend night, he revealed. While we perused the extensive menu, my husband commented on the abundance of menu items that appealed to him. There are so many that sound so good, he said. We started out with the Maryland Crab Soup, the Stuffed Mushroom Caps and the Soft Crab Bites, which was on the weekly specials menu. Brimming with vegetables and succulent crabmeat, the soup was perfectly seasoned, not too mild yet not too spicy. The stuffed mushroom caps featured nice big chunks of jumbo lump and a really flavorful imperial sauce that was super tasty. These are really good, my daughter said, adding, Why have we never come here before? Even though I am not a big fan of soft crabs, the soft crab appetizer was amazingly delicious. Even my daughter, who was a bit skeptical at first, loved it. Described as two soft crabs cut into bite size pieces, hand-breaded in Cajun seasoning and deep fried, these delicacies came served with a Cajun tartar sauce that was divine. The salads that came with our entr? deserve a mention as well, because the vegetables were so fresh and crisp. Featuring onion, cucumber, radishes, carrots, a hot pepper and homemade croutons, the salad was very good. And so was the delicious hot bread that comes to the table. Cara explained they brush a cinnamon-butter glaze on top and they prepare the bread per order so it stays fresh. Scrumptious! For the main event, my husband tried the Steak and Shrimp Au Poivre, a 14 oz. Delmonico steak topped with jumbo Gulf shrimp and topped with a cracked black pepper and mushroom sauce. I had to steal a bite. The steak was tender and flavorful, and the savory sauce tasted great! I opted for the Mediterranean Seafood, a medley of mussels, shrimp, scallops, crab meat and a lobster tail tossed in their homemade marinara sauce and served atop a bed of linguine. This seafood dish made for one beautiful presentation! The marinara sauce was bursting with flavor, and the seafood was divine. Its a very generous portion, too, so youll probably have leftovers to take home to enjoy another time. I ordered the vegetable of the day, Country-Style Spinach, on the side. The bacon flavor I detected in this one made for some really yummy spinach. My daughter went with the Stuffed Salmon, and I had to try a bite of that as well. It was simply scrumptious! OMG, mine is so good! my daughter exclaimed. The salmon was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the crab imperial stuffing was heavenly. If youre not a fan of salmon, you can choose another type of fresh fish, such as flounder, tuna, orange roughy, red snapper or swordfish. While we were quite full, we had no problem devouring the two desserts Chad sent out for us to try. One was the Molten Chocolate Cake, described as moist chocolate cake enrobed with dark chocolate and filled with a dark chocolate truffle that melts when heated. Served with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream, this cake was decadent. If youre a chocolate lover, this dessert will not disappoint. The other dessert was my husbands favorite, Banana Caramel Cheesecake Xangos, a rich, creamy cheesecake layered with chunks of banana and real butter caramel within a flakey pastry tortilla. This was absolutely ambrosial. Dont let the photo in the dessert menu deter you - this is a perfect ending to a delicious meal. In addition to the restaurant and the carryout, Als Seafood also opened the Liquor Locker in 2004. They also specialize in catering crab feasts and oyster roasts, steamed crabs are available all year long and their seafood is shipped nationwide. When I was dining at Als Seafood, I overheard a customer telling Chad how good the crabs were. He said, These are the best crabs Ive had all year, and I eat crabs every week. There were several tables of customers who were there for the crabs. My family and I will definitely be back, as there are several items on the menu we look forward to trying, but I predict my husband will order the same dessert. They may call it Xangos, I call it Awesome, he quipped. Als Seafood is located at 1551 Eastern Blvd. in Essex. Restaurant hours are Monday - Thursday, 4 - 10 p.m., Friday, 4 - 11 p.m., Saturday, 2 - 11 p.m. and Sunday, noon - 10 p.m. Call 410-682-4828. For more information, including Carryout and Liquor Locker hours as well as dining room and carryout menus, visit www.als-seafood.com


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