By Bob Tagert
Like Alexandria, Annapolis is a seaport town, and like Alexandria there are many great shops, museums and restaurants. We timed our trip to Annapolis so that we would be there when Kevin Brooks, a close friend, was playing music at Castlebay, a traditional Irish Pub. With March being the month of the Irish (and my birthday), we thought this is a good month to write about our neighbor and the Irish.
Metered parking is also available around the city dock and this is where the shops and restaurants begin. Bars and restaurants are plentiful and are usually very busy, especially on warm spring days. Mussels and little neck clams are always a favorite at McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar. Established in 1975, McGarvey’s was recently purchased by three midshipmen. This is quite a coincidence, since three Lt. JG’s originally started the Chart House Restaurant group when they bought their first restaurant in Aspen, CO. One of the most beautiful Chart House Restaurants sits across Spa Creek from Ego Alley. This is the first Chart House I ever experienced and is still my favorite.
At the end of Ego Alley is the Annapolis Market House, a food court of sorts with open vendors. Opened in the 1780’s the old Market House was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. It took 10 years to reopen and is thriving today. Outside of the market is a brightly colored upright piano that anyone passing by can play. It was enlightening to hear some of the music floating through the air.
Walking one block up Main Street and passing many other restaurants and shops you will come to O’Briens Oyster Bar & Restaurant. In the 70’s Fran O’Brien, a popular defensive lineman for the Washington Redskins back in their glory years, purchased the restaurant. The steak and seafood menu became a favorite amongst the legislators, businessmen and politicians, a distinction it still enjoys today.
In 1993, Jerry Hardesty, the owner of Middleton Tavern took over ownership and operations, changed the name to O’Brien’s and brought back the emphasis on Chesapeake Cuisine. For a time we distributed the Old Town Crier to Annapolis (which we will start again) and O’Brien’s was one of our favorite places so we had to visit this trip. What a surprise, one of our favorite bartenders was still working there from the early 90’s…Gordon McKenney (see how those Irish names keep popping up). It was great catching up. These are the experiences that make it all worthwhile!
Continuing up Main Street toward Church Circle, you will again encounter many fine shops and restaurants. We stopped in to Castlebay Irish Pub, which is also the subject of our dining out this month. This is a great place to grab a pint and listen to some fabulous music. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of music venues in Annapolis but more importantly, the musicians are very talented across the board.
Besides strolling around town and taking in the sights like the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial at the foot of Main Street, Annapolis also offer bay tours, boat rentals or you can always get away by taking a sail on the 74-foot wooden Schooner Woodwind. The Woodwind offers two-hour sailing cruises as well as Sunset Sails. If you are lucky, you might encounter our personality profile, Kevin Brooks, entertaining throughout the sail.
This is just a small sample of what awaits you in Annapolis. It is truly one of the best destinations in our region for simply getting away from the city in under an hour if the traffic Gods are with you.
March is shaping up to be a great month to get out and enjoy an early spring. Take road trip!