East County Times Dining Guide

The waterfront view from the upper dining room is spectacular.

The Crab Mushroom Casserole



by Allison McAlister

Fine dining in Dundalk? Who would've thought? If you're looking to enjoy an excellent meal in a casual atmosphere and take in one of the best waterfront views offered in Dundalk, you must visit The Seasoned Mariner on Wise Avenue, right by the bridge. Locally owned and operated, Bear Creek resident Frank Taggart joined up with property owner Steve Goff in March of this year to open the new restaurant. If we want to take our wives out to a nice dinner, we always had to go somewhere else, Taggart said, meaning they had to travel outside of the Dundalk area. We wanted to bring a nice restaurant to the neighborhood. The building has been a bar/restaurant for decades. Goff and a business partner bought the restaurant in 1998 and opened Mariners Landing. They sold the restaurant in 2004 but retained ownership of the property. In the last six years, the restaurant has seen several owners and name changes. The Scottish-born Taggart moved to Dundalk in 1998 and he and his wife stumbled upon the restaurant when they were looking for a local watering hole. They developed a friendship with Goff, and when the previous owner of what was known as The Beach House had to close up shop, Goff was left with an empty building and a mortgage to pay. He called Taggart and said, Lets do this together. A new partnership was formed between Goff and his wife Dorothy, known as Dottie, and Taggart and his wife Barbara. After 29 years in the computer industry, now I'm going to become a restaurateur, Taggart smiled. All I know how to do is be a customer. As long as the customers are treated the way I would want to be treated, then were golden. The restaurant, which officially opened for business on June 7, has undergone significant renovations and now the bar is completely separate from the dining room. A family can come into the restaurant, have dinner and never see the bar, explained Taggart. We've had a number of families come in to eat which is what we hoped would happen. Taggarts whole focus of the new restaurant is on the customers experience. We offer an excellent product out of the kitchen and our service, for the most part, is better than average. Its not excellent yet, but that takes time, he explained. When the restaurant was known as Mariners Landing, it employed a young chef named Bobby Armiger who was a good chef and passionate about what he did. He moved on to country clubs and other restaurants. Taggart called him up for menu advice when the new restaurant was starting up. Ironically, Armiger had just given notice at his current job and Taggart quickly brought him on board, which is reflected in the restaurants name, since the young chef is now older and wiser than he was during his Mariners Landing days. The Seasoned Mariner was a perfect fit. Taggart also got a package deal when he hired Armiger, because Armiger's mother, Peggy Ward, came on board as well as prep chef and she also handles lunch. Its obvious Armiger is a talented chef, as evidenced by everything we sampled on a recent visit to the restaurant. Featuring daily lunch and dinner specials, as well as the regular menu items, several of the dishes offered at The Seasoned Mariner are refreshingly different from the usual restaurant fare. For instance, Taggart mentioned, Bobby does amazing stuff with potatoes. Its true! You simply must try the croquette. One bite and you'll be hooked. The texture of the fried outer shell combined with the smooth and creamy mashed potatoes inside will have your taste buds dancing. But, I'm getting ahead of myself here. We began our meal with the soup - the black bean for me and the cream of crab for my co-worker. The black bean soup was on the daily specials menu, and it was delicious. Served piping hot, it was chock full of beans and very flavorful. The cream of crab was unlike what's served at other restaurants. My co-worker described it as different and spicier than the usual and said its a very good spicy cream of crab soup. Next we tried the corn fritters appetizer, also featured as a daily special. These yummy nuggets were served with several fried green beans as well, which Id have to say were the best fried green beans I've ever eaten. For our main meals, I went with the Seasoned Hamburger, a 10-ounce ground chuck burger blended with their special in-house seasoning. This was one well-seasoned burger! It was very tasty, and it was huge! So large, in fact, that I ended up having to cut it with a fork and knife because it was too big for me to get my mouth around it to take a bite. This is definitely a burger that will satisfy even those with the biggest of appetites. My co-worker just had to try the Crab Mushroom Casserole, described as jumbo lump crab cake simmered in sherry cream demi-glaze with fresh herbs, mushrooms, garlic and shallots and topped and browned with the restaurants very own Chesapeake mashed potatoes. It was clear she thoroughly enjoyed the dish. O-M-G is all she could say. Its like a Seafood Shepherds Pie...oh my gosh! She loved it. Though we were stuffed after all that amazing food, we did take dessert to go. My coworker had the homemade apple dumpling, made by Ward. She described it as heavenly. I went with the pumpkin cheesecake, which blended the taste of pumpkin pie with the creamy goodness of cheesecake. It was simply scrumptious! I cant wait to make a return visit to The Seasoned Mariner. There are a few items I'm dying to try, like The Seasoned Seafood Sub, the Horseradish Crusted Rockfish and the Smith Island Stew. In addition to the daily specials, the restaurant also offers nightly specials every week. Monday nights are Pasta Night for $9.95, Wednesday nights are Date Night where you can enjoy a romantic evening for two for $49.95, Thursday nights are Steak Night for $9.95 and Sundays are Sushi Days with Chef Sonny from Nichiban in Federal Hill. The restaurant also holds once-a-month Wine Dinners, featuring tastings of several wines from a featured region followed by a three-course meal and dessert accompanied by wine selections to complement each course. The Seasoned Mariner is located at 601 Wise Avenue in Dundalk. For more information, call 443-242-7190 or visit www.seasonedmariner.com.

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