I should have known. I should have known.
Having raved about Stoney's for three years on this board as Maryland's most atmospheric crab shack with among Maryland's best crab cakes and other exemplery sides...that it would not last.
The first warning was John B. saying that he and his wife were there last weekend and they had to send the crab cake back. Further John described their previously prodigiously delicious lump crab balls as merely "good" and several other sides as a step up or down from this.
My wife and I drove the 41 miles south from I 495 today to Stoney's, past countless new developments that simply weren't on route 4 a year and a half ago on our last visit. With the top down, three days of Labor Day holiday ahead of us and Creedance on the radio this was a seriously good start to a summer ending weekend. At 3:00PM we turned off of Broomes Island Road onto the short sideroad that leads into Stoney's gravelled parking lot. Along with two Mercedes ours was the only car.
Stoney's is bigger now. Two more dining areas, i.e. outdoor decks with clusters of six and eight four seater tables surrounded by Tiki torches directly on the river. There is still the floating deck with its eight or so tables. And the same compliment of ducks, birds and fish competing for table scraps that diners provide for them.
Stoney's has jumbos for $56. Expensive but most importantly, they have them. And this is a GREAT place (just like Cantler's only, perhaps, MORE atmospheric) to eat them in. They also have $16.00 crab cake sandwiches and similar but smaller crab balls sold by the market price.
In 1998 the Washington Post ranked Stoney's number one in the greater D. C. area for best crab cake. Phyllis Richman lumped it together with the Narrows on Kent Island with the best she'd had and my wife and I added Angelina's and Captain's Table in Crisfield to the list but Stoney's was certainly one of the four best.
The 1/2 pound crab cake was at least half nondescript flavorless filler. Lump crab was still there but there was just little flavor to this. The tartar sauce that accompanied it was homemade but not much better than flavored mayonnaise. An incredible disappointment. Crab balls are smaller versions of their crab cakes. Broiled they were good. But like the crab cakes not the world class, best of class that we remembered and expected. Something has chnged at Stoney's. The waittress said that the owners were the same as 1998. Perhaps not the cooks. These crab cakes were different, simply not in league with our memories. Certainly no where near as good as the crab cakes at the Narrows in Kent Island where on successive recent weekends we hav egorged on what we now regard as the best crab cakes on the face of the earth. With all due respect to Angelina's, Captain's Galley, the Frog and the Redneck (Jimmy Sneed in Richmond) and a host of others today the title passed to the Narrows as World's Best Crab Cake. My wife said so!
Stoney's vegetable crab soup is the best I have ever had. Anywhere. Even better than Harrison's exemplery tomato based crab soup on Tilghman Island. But the cream of crab was bland, the onion rings frozen and greasy and the cole slaw "OK" but no better.
Still, the best atmosphere of any Maryland crab house. Overall, even with this disappointment, better sides than Cantler's (whose sides are abominably bad!). But for crab cakes there is now one unchallenged champion in the state of Maryland: the Narrows in Kent Island. Curiously, the Narrows has abominably bad tomato based vegetable crab soup but exemplery, perhaps best of class cream of crab. It lacks the outdoor tiki toch ambience of Stone's (whch is a REAL plus) but does sit on the water. For anyone reading this and driving to O. C. this weekend stop at the Narrows, go intotheir bar and pick up a crab sandwich to go. Give it a try. If you really like it then break up the trip back from O. C. on Sunday with dinner at the Narrows. For those trekking to Calvert County please, don't hesitate to go Stoney's. But I would focus on the jumbo crabs, the vegetable crab soup and their desserts.
It will be a while before we go back...to Stoney's. I sort of feel like I lost a friend. At least a friend who made great crab cakes in a setting the equal of any in Maryland.