I've been to buffets all of my life, having grown up where the "salad bar" (buffet eating) was conceived by the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group. If you love oysters -- and they're one of my personal favorite foods -- you'll surely agree that Tilghman Island's Harrison House has the best buffet in the world.
Harrison House's Friday night buffet is devoted to the Maryland oyster, as long as it's in season, through the end of April. The devotion to traditional Maryland cuisine is authentic: they're not making some "farm to table" game of it -- it's how this multi-generational restaurant has always done it! When people think of Maryland food, they're generally looking at Eastern Shore recipes, like those of Mrs. Governor Tawes. All the classic faves are on this buffet, save that of beaten biscuits. That's probably because they're labor intensive and I may be the last person on the planet who likes Maryland's version of hard-tack.
If you're coming from the Western Shore, boating would get you there pretty quickly, but driving involves a few peninsulas and crossing the bridge onto the island.
All the oysters on the buffet are caught right there on the Choptank River, the freshest of the fresh. They serve oysters 9 ways, including raw, steamed, crunchy on the outside and creamy inside fritters, oysters Rockefeller, mini oyster pot pies, oysters Casino and oyster stew. The oyster stew lives up to the restaurant's motto, "no apologies, lots of butter". It's simply the finest, with about a million oysters. I don't even want to tell you how many helpings I got of it -- it's embarrassing.
Other Maryland delicacies on the buffet include the not-so-easy-to-find Maryland fried chicken with simple seasonings and crunchy batter, thinly shaved tender fatty ham, biscuits, sweet lima beans and stewed tomatoes. Let's not forget the crispy topped rich mac and cheese that could be a meal by itself! The restaurant makes its own slightly creamy cole slaw and a tartar sauce that has a spicy remoulade flavor. This is the kind of food people on the Eastern Shore have been eating for hundreds of years!
For dessert, they serve bread pudding with warm brandy creme Anglaise on the side.
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