When in Dorchester County Maryland no matter if your are on the way to and from Ocean City, doing Iron Man competitions, biking, fishing, birding or touring the historic sites schedule time to drive to Hooper’s Island and dine for lunch or dinner at Old Salty’s Restaurant located at Fishing Creek. Visually the drive to the island offers panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Honga River on the other side and on the narrow sections of Hooper’s Islands you can see both.
Old Salty’s is located in the old high school, which to this day the gymnasium hosts many a special event from weddings to an upcoming concert from Ronny Dove on September 22. This is destination dining you need to drive there, as many do and have done repeatedly. Old Salty’s is not fancy in the sense of high end surroundings, in fact, that would deter from country feel, the sense of family dining.
Maryland crab meat, oysters and rockfish are the center of the plate literally and figuratively at Old Salty’s, all come from the waters right there off Hooper’s Island where fishing, harvesting oysters and crabbing have been a way of life for centuries. We left it up to Old Salty’s owner Jay Newcomb to bring us samples of what he calls his specialties. A sampling of the lump crabmeat imperial topped plump oyster almost had me in tears – fresh, briny, rich and redolent of the bay waters with a hidden treasure, a real pearl.
Newcomb has been the owner of Old Salty’s for the past nine years, the previous owner had it for twenty years prior. Newcomb enhanced the offerings getting away from a lot of the fried foods, going to steamed-to-order sides like the squash medley with corn, kale, asparagus or the housemade cucumber and onion salad. Old Salty’s offers two types of crab cakes both excellent but go for the gusto and get the broiled jumbo lump deluxe crab cake in a sandwich or on a platter. And know that it is always Maryland crabmeat even in the off season when Newcomb uses the crabmeat he had packed and pasteurized right there on Hooper’s Island.
If you have a “real hankerin” for Maryland blue crab ask for the crab trio; a soft shell crab, crab cake and crab imperial, choose two sides and enjoy the freshly made yeast rolls – in fact, Newcomb took me back to the kitchen when they were coming out of the oven. If for any reason someone in your party isn’t into seafood, Old Salty’s offers fried chicken, ham and prime cuts of beef and on Friday and Saturday nights a king cut of prime rib.
Our view was just awe inspiring looking out over the Honga River but one of the best views at Old Salty’s was seeing his selection of pies cooling; coconut cream, lemon and chocolate and Jay didn’t disappoint sending out the lemon and chocolate and his very decadent bread pudding.
Hooper’s Island has its own rich history from growing tobacco early on to the birthplace of a national institution, Phillips Seafood who happens to be celebrating their 100th year to the new, innovative ways in aquaculture from Chesapeake Gold Oysters whose 3rd generation watermen are securing a future for Maryland’s oyster industry.
When the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern visited Dorchester County, he visited Old Salty’s Restaurant calling it “restaurant paradise.” Fair warning, once you check out the slideshow you will be craving at least one if not more of Old Salty’s culinary offerings. Make the time, make the trip and make sure you get a piece of pie.
Old Salty’s Restaurant – 2560 Old Hoopers Island Road – Fishing Creek, Maryland 21634 410.397.3752 www.oldsaltys.com. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open Wednesdays thru Sundays – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Visit Dorchester County – www.visitdorchester.org/ “create your own Tales of Dorchester County”