Goin’ Out to the Gateway
By the Gastronomes
Our choice of restaurant this month was more by accident than by design. It was deadline time for this issue and we had yet to settle on the subject matter for this column. We were spending the night in our friend’s gorgeous home on the Patuxent River near Broomes Island in Southern Maryland and decided to drive the few miles to “Gateway” for dinner and do some brainstorming for this column. After ordering our drinks and looking at the menu (all the while talking about Old Town eateries as possibilities) the light went on! Why not write about the place we were eating? Duh!
Full disclosure: Over the years, we have driven by this place well over 250 times, literally, and stopped in for a cold beer once about 10-15 years ago. Last March, when I had my right knee replaced and was recuperating at the same house on the water, we needed somewhere close to get take out one evening. Gateway Seafood Restaurant & Lounge was the answer. Since then, we have stopped in when we can and it has never disappointed.
The Gateway is really pretty unassuming in outside appearance until you stop to take a little closer look. In addition to full bar and restaurant service, the Gateway has a drive up liquor window and a substantial take out business. Can’t believe we’ve never picked up on the drive up window aspect after all these years!
The interior is just what you would expect in a place in this corner of the world…dark wood, nice big bar, large flat screen for watching sports and a good bit of room for casual dining and lots of parking space. They don’t, however, have a dedicated outdoor dining area. There is a small deck in the back to accommodate those of you who are smokers.
This food in the restaurant is quite the find. Gateway has been family owned for over 45 years. They pride themselves on their “down home” cooking but you can tell that they are a bit more than that from the list of daily specials they offer. There are over 20 appetizers ranging from Chicken Tenders and Wings, Fried Pickles and Loaded Tater Tots to Crab Balls, Fried Oysters, Coconut Shrimp, Catfish Bites, Stuffed Mushroom Caps and Steamed Shrimp. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites were among the specials when we were there. They offer 16 options of seafood either steamed, baked, broiled or fried. From the land they offer steaks, pork chops and various chicken dishes. There is so much here that making a decision is difficult.
I started out with the Coconut Shrimp appetizer. We had just been to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware a few months ago and I had Coconut Shrimp for the first time in many years so I wanted to try it at Gateway. It was great. Lightly fried with the right amount of coconut and nice plump shrimp. The Thai Chili dipping sauce added a nice flavor. I also ordered their version of Chesapeake Chicken. I remembered eating Chesapeake Chicken, a combination of chicken breast and crabmeat, at the Summer House restaurant in Rehoboth back in the 70’s. When done right this is delicious and this was done right. At the Gateway, the grilled chicken is topped with their signature crab dip and it was definitely a treat. I opted for the sandwich size order since the shrimp had pretty much filled me up but I will get the full order when I go back so I can enjoy it longer.
My partner had her eye on the fried chicken which is a ½ chicken served with two sides, however, they were out of it so….she opted for a much healthier choice of the grilled salmon that was on the specials menu. It was served on a pewter platter coated with an Asian inspired reduction and a lemon wedge. The portion was generous and cooked just right. All entrees come with a choice of two sides – this is where the “home cooking” element shines. In addition to the standard garden salad, broccoli, baked potato or fries options there is macaroni & cheese, scalloped potatoes, stewed tomatoes, coleslaw, green beans, pickled beets, lima beans and sweet potato casserole. My pal opted for pickled beets and the ever so healthy scalloped potatoes. These are sides like your grandma used to make.
Since we were just having a light dinner we dined at the bar – which is something we like to do. The back bar is extensive and the beer choices many but I am guessing if you are a wine snob, this isn’t your place to be. Cindy, our bartender/server and former school teacher, was delightful as she never stopped moving between us, serving tables, making the house drinks and waiting on folks picking up dinner to go at the Drive-up Window. When things got hectic during the dinner rush, her “off-duty” co-worker Kim left her after work beverage on the bar and jumped in to help out. That’s just how the people that work here are.
The food, the beverage and the people are the main reasons why you should take the drive down there but the price points on everything on the menu – including the adult beverages – more than make up for the extra cash you have to spend on gas!
Getting there: Take the Beltway and exit on Route 4 South and follow it through Prince Frederick to the Broomes Island Road light. Turn right and drive until you see it on your right!!
Gateway Seafood Restaurant & Lounge
5455 Broomes Island Road
Port Republic, Maryland