St. Mary's County has long suffered from a step-child relationship to good food. Yes, there are plenty of "County" hangouts featuring fresh seafood & beer but high quality dining has never caught on here. There's simply too much fast food and too many mediocre chain-type offerings.
That has changed with the advent of The Tides. Their difficult-to-find location will do nothing to ensure survival, but once you negotiate the labyrinth, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the sophisticated offerings.
We were a party of five, seated promptly at an attractively set round table. Everyone on staff tried very, very hard to be professional, yet their down-home pleasantness still came through.
There is a very ambitious menu and equally ambitious wine list with a large selection of wines by the glass.
Two in our party choose applewood bacon-wrapped beef filets topped with bleu cheese and were thrilled that each arrived to the ordered doneness - med-rare and rare. The accompanying potatoes were pronounced "terrific". Another guest ordered the rockfish, and as a Maryland native of "une certain age" I value her opinion of the not-often offered fish that she swooned over. "Better than my mother's" was high-praise indeed. Am sorry to report that the fourth order slips my mind, but I do remember the happy smile on the diner's face.
I took a huge leap and ordered "Lamb Three Ways" -- something I never expected to see on a St. Mary's County menu. Paris, Florence, New York or San Francisco - certainly! Lamb sweetbreads stand out as the best part of this offering and they were meltingly tender. The rare chop was delicious but it was a lamb chop. The third part of the trio was freshly made lamb sausage served over flagelot beans -- another rarely seen offering and very well received.
None of us partook of the fresh oyster or caviar offerings, nor did we sample any of the +/- 18 different martinis offered.
This chowhound currently lives in the Southwest but lived for about a dozen years in St. Mary's County. Everytime I've visited I have tried another "new" spot but The Tides is the hands-down winner to date.