East County Times Dining Guide

The Maryland Crab Soup is chock full of succulent jumbo lump crab meat. Mmm!



The Hard Yacht Cafe


Article & Photos by Lena Sala

Over two decades ago, where The Hard Yacht Cafe now stands was nothing more than miles of open water and a pile of debris just laying around. Located on Bear Creek, only six miles away from the Inner Harbor if you travel by water, a couple by the name of Tina and Art Cox decided this tiny spot next to the Anchor Bay East Marina, which was founded by the pair along with Arts parents Ron and Ruth Cox, would be the perfect location for everyone from the marina to gather for some good eatn and laughs. However, the restaurant, which happened to be named one of Baltimore's Best Bars in Baltimore Magazine, wasn't always so glamorous. It started out as a few picnic tables but as you can imagine, on any windy or rainy day the place would be desolate. After a little more thought, the uncovered area for picnic tables then became the Crab Shack, where you could be warm and cozy and out of Mother Natures way! Soon after the opening of the crab shack, the benches turned into chairs and thanks to many donations and ideas, microwaves, coffee pots, refrigerators and counter tops all found their way into the Shack. In the beginning of the 2000s the Shack became very popular, especially on the weekends when everyone from the Marina gathered for Friday Night Dinners. In 2003, the wrath of Hurricane Isabel hit the popular get-together location rather hard, but after a few days of hard work and dedication, the end result actually wasn't as bad as anyone thought. In 2006, after much thought the idea of Hard Yacht Cafe became a reality and welcomed the surrounding community to join in on the fun. Ever since the business opened, people just cant get enough. With the live entertainment and to-die-for food, what is there not to like? According to Courtney Cox, daughter of Art and Tina and previous lead Chef at Hard Yacht, her father built the restaurant to resemble a Florida dock bar in the Keys. Myself being a regular at this Dundalk hot spot, I couldn't agree more. No matter the weather - wind and rain or sunny and warm - Hard Yacht is the perfect place to sit back with a few friends and free your mind over some mouthwatering appetizers or a few drinks. For those of you who are familiar with Hard Yacht but haven't been there in a while, you need to stop what you're doing and head on down because this cozy spot, located just off Cove Road, has a surprise in store for you. The inside part of the bar has now been expanded with plenty of seating, a larger bar and you will now find indoor plumbing! Yes, that's right, you no longer have to leave the bar and walk across the other side of the parking lot to do your business. Hard Yacht is now fully equipped with a ladies and men's bathroom only a couple feet away. Along with bathrooms, you will also find your eyes glued to the walls, now with 10 flat screens throughout the bar, perfect for all you sports lovers. During my visit there with two coworkers, I found what I would call a little piece of heaven. Courtney, who studied culinary arts at York Technical Institute in Lancaster, PA, whipped up an assortment of appetizers that sent mine and my coworkers taste buds into a frenzy! I could not believe my eyes when she brought out a sample of their Maryland Crab Soup topped with ginormous chunks of jumbo lump crab meat. My mouth is watering still thinking about it. These succulent all white pieces were topped with Old Bay and drenched within a soup seasoned to perfection. My coworker pointed out tiny pieces of grilled corn that she found to be quite a delight. Next to the crab soup, I would have to say Sailor Ted's Crab Dip accompanied by delicious fried pita chips sprinkled with Old Bay would have to have been one of my favorites. According to Courtney, Sailor Ted's Crab Dip happens to be a recipe put together by a guy named Ted, of course, who lives right in the neighborhood! When I tasted a sample of his crab dip, I was blown away because it doesn't compare to anything that I have tasted, acknowledged Courtney. He graciously handed over his recipe without asking for anything in return, except his name on our menu and ever since, Sailor Ted's Crab Dip has become a huge hit. My coworker Kathleen was speechless when she sunk her teeth into a crispy conch fritter, which happens to be an island favorite available right here in Dundalk. Oh my god and mmmmm was all I could get out of her! Kathleen, myself and Devin, who also joined us for lunch, were then greeted with a one-of-a-kind shrimp melt that consists of juicy pieces of shrimp, provolone, fresh bruschetta and olive oil all on top of a toasted hoagie roll. Courtney noted this was stolen right from O.C. Whites in St. Augustine, but here at Hard Yacht they have put their own little twist on it. Our last tasty morsel was the CRAB CAKE, a seafood lovers weakness. As I stuck my fork inside the plump cake, steam and a scent of heaven poured out from the opening. Once again, I was astonished by the large white chunks of crab meat that graced my plate. Okay, so now onto the main course. Devin and I decided to take what I like to call the carnivore challenge! We both chose to tackle Hard Yachts half-pound burgers which are marinated in Montreal Steak Seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Devin chose to spice things up a little bit and go with the Mark Allen burger, topped with an enormous amount of crab dip and yellow American cheese. There was so much crab dip it was oozing off the side! All I have to say is that he was very satisfied with his choice. Kathleen decided to go with the Fisherman's Grilled Cheese. Courtney revealed this masterpiece is everyone's favorite choice on the menu! With a perfect combination of Monterey Jack cheese, lumps of jumbo crab meat and pieces of shrimp, you cant go wrong. A lady sitting next to us with her husband revealed that every time she visits Hard Yacht, she doesn't think twice about what she is ordering because the Fisherman's Grilled Cheese is her choice every time. Our next delicacy was something known as hushpuppies that Kathleen had ordered for her side dish. These moist little creations were served with a side of creamy melted butter for dipping. They were quite a treat! I was served onion rings that were golden to a crisp and filled with flavorful strands of onion. Devin got the most common side dish that all burger lovers get - French fries, of course. Hard Yachts fries are all seasoned with Old Bay. Go figure! These thick slices of potatoes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just the way a french fry should be! Are you full yet? Well, you better make room for more because after our main course, our waitress brought out a platter of their shrimp poached in Cajun seasoning and beer served with a side of cocktail sauce. This peel-and-eat classic had my coworkers and I quiet as mice because we were too busy indulging these tasty creatures. By this time I thought my stomach was going to explode from the inside! We didn't have the courage to ask for dessert; however, Devin tried a little treat that comes on the side of every meal. Its Courtney's fruity experiment that consists of almonds, mandarin oranges and pineapples. Its like a tropical punch in the taste buds! The most amazing aspect about Hard Yacht other than their high quality food and superior customer service is their weekly specials, featuring something for everyday of the week. So no matter what your schedule, you can make your way down to Dundalk's little piece of paradise. On Monday, you can come enjoy steak night and have a hearty helping of steak with a baked potato and side salad; Two for Tuesdays features half-price burgers and buy one get one on all domestic bottles and cans; shrimp specials and $2 Ultras on Wednesdays; everyone's favorite special, Thirsty Thursdays, where you and your friends can take advantage of their $1 domestic drafts, $5 pitchers and $10 wings and a pitcher; Friday and Saturday, enjoy live music, steaks and Chefs Choice specials, which happens to be a lovely lady by the name of Christine, who always has an innovative idea on what to make; and finally Sunday Funday, where you beer lovers can sit down for $2 domestic drafts, $5 pitchers and $12 domestic buckets. All Ravens games include a free half-time buffet and touchdown shooters! This place just has it all and they are open seven days a week, 7 a.m. - midnight. They even serve breakfast from 7 - 11 a.m. everyday! If you haven't experienced Hard Yacht Cafe yet then you haven't really lived, so come on down and see what all the talk is about! Located at 8500 Cove Road in Dundalk, call 443-407-0038 or visit www.hardyacht.com for more information. Also, find them on Facebook!

Editors Note: The live entertainment at Hard Yacht Cafe is great! Be sure to check out my personal favorite, Client 9, a party rock cover band that performs at Hard Yacht the first Saturday of every month from 7 - 11 p.m. They put on an awesome show!

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