Restaurant review: Jerry's Seafood

09 August 2007

Last night was another small-group-dinner with the guys from work, meaning that we had a fairly easy time of deciding where to eat. With some trepidation we asked the front desk of our hotel for advice about where we should get dinner, because lately we've gotten bad advice from them. To be accurate, we got bad directions from them. The woman behind the front desk dug around in one of the three-ring binders behind the counter and fished out directions to Jerry's Seafood (9364 Lanham-Severn Road; Lanham, MD, 20706; phone 301-577-0333; fax 301-577-5926), which happened to be as few exits down the highway from our hotel. So, directions in hand, the three of us piled into M-'s car and we set forth for dinner and adventure. Much to our surprise, we found the restaurant without a whole lot of trouble. Note to self: Trust Mapquest even less.

Jerry's is a hole in the wall place tucked into a strip mall on the left hand side of the road next to a dodgy-looking buffet called Asia Hut, which was the cause of not a few jokes among the three of us. Jerry's has a battered set of steel double doors on the front of the restaurant, with a sign admonishing us that we might be in for a wait: It could be fifteen minutes under diners are seated, or it could be two hours. It might also be up to two hours before your food is served. Also, they stop seating people at 2000 EST5EDT, so if you plan on eating at Jerry's, get there early, preferably before the dinnertime rush.

At least they're honest, we figured. So, we opened the doors and were confronted with a packed restaurant - most every table was taken up by merry diners eating and having a good old time, with just enough space between the tables for the waitstaff to scurry to and fro. "A packed restaurant full of people obviously enjoying themselves," I observed. "A good sign."

We flagged down a hostess and asked for a table.

"You might have to wait about an hour," she told us, so we sat outside in the deck chairs and proceeded to wait. I'm glad that I brought a book with me... I have to admit, we were wondering if the wait was going to be worth it, or if we were being strung along. After about half an hour, our hostess returned and showed us to a table near the door (one of the few that were unoccupied, it should be noted). We had to wait for our waiter to pay us a visit, and wait for our drinks and complimentary hot rolls (which were most certainly right out of the oven, and extremely tasty). The cruets to refill our glasses were rarely empty - Scott, the waiter, kept a close eye on his charges. It isn't as if the waitstaff was hanging around out back smoking, they were constantly busy - running to and fro carrying food, taking orders, making sure that everyone was topped off, carrying cheques, and keeping the guests happy. All told, it was at most a half hour before he came to take our orders.. well, maybe a little more. Call it 45 minutes to an hour. On top of that we waited roughly another hour to get our salads and meals (the entrees come with two sides which you pick off of a list). By this time it was 1945 EST5EDT and they were no longer seating people. By the way, their house dressing is excellent and served on the side, which I highly recommend.

Jerry's is expensive: The crab cake entree (which actually has two crab cakes) alone was $31.95us, M-'s Mariner's Platter (which has a crab cake, fried shrimp, and scallops with a pair of side dishes) will set you back $34.95us, and T-'s Jumbo Fried Shrimp (note to self: always grab a takeout menu if possible!) will run you $31.95us as well. (Note: These are all dinner prices. Lunch prices are $18.95us for entrees). That said... the food was more than worth both the wait and the high prices. These had to be the best, freshest, tastiest crab cakes I've ever had. Broiled to perfection, they were solid crab through and through, with no fillers at all. It was as if one of the cooks in the back grabbed a few handfuls of top-shelf crab meat, formed two patties, briefly explained to them what bread crumbs were, and deposited them in the oven. I'd ordered one in the firecracker style (spiced with mustard powder and cracked black pepper) and one plain to compare the two styles. Both were fantastic. M-, who ordinarily doesn't like crab cakes, raved about the one that came with his dinner. Even the spicy french fries were good on their own, and I'm a ketchup fiend.

Regrettably, I forgot to ask T- what he thought of his jumbo fried shrimp, but I distinctly recall a lack of complaints about his meal.

If you're ever in Maryland, stop by Jerry's Seafood if you've got some cash burning a hole in your pocket. You're going to pay about $40us per person (gratuity will be added to the final bill if there are five or more people in your party) and you may as well bring something to read with you because you'll probably have to wait for a table to open up, but you won't be sorry. The food's amazing. Seriously. It even blows Philip's at the DC Waterfront away. If nothing else, this is a great place to celebrate something big.

Final rating: 0.75 flareguns. The awesomeness of the food is well worth the wait.