Surf and Turf on Kent Island

“Are you sure this is a steakhouse?” asked one Picky Eater, brow arched skeptically. “It looks like a bar or a liquor store.”

Indeed, when you approach Annie’s Paramount Steak and Seafood House from Route 50, you’re greeted with banners announcing, “Loose Goose: Now on Draft” and “Happy Hour: Two for One.” Fat Tire and Budweiser neon signs shine in the windows.

Yet, once inside, you realize rather quickly that Annie’s has a split personality.

We arrived expecting a venerable 25-year-old steakhouse with an air of Old World sophistication. We found it, of course, but on the way into the main dining room we passed a bustling sports bar, with walls lined with more than a dozen large-screen television sets. This is a place where boaters, watermen and sports fans all feel welcome to enjoy Annie’s bounty without having to dress for the occasion.

The dining room was just as busy, but here we found couples chatting over cabernet and steaks, as well as families and other groups celebrating special occasions. There’s a mirror-backed bar tucked into one corner and an inviting open-air porch with fans and a pine ceiling that stretches toward the water.

We considered the options and elected to dine on the porch for a front-row seat to the watery thoroughfare that is Kent Narrows. We relaxed, pondered the prodigious menu and watched the ebb and flow of the weekend boat traffic as the sunset colored the sky.

Truly, Annie’s is heaven for carnivores.

This establishment built its reputation by serving U.S.D.A. Prime Angus beef, which is the best money can buy. Meat graded prime is tender, juicy and flavorful, with a fine texture and extensive marbling. Annie’s menu also bears the “Certified Angus Beef” brand, widely considered among the best in the business.

The list of steaks is truly impressive. Prime Cattleman Cuts include porterhouse, Kansas City strip and ribeye. There’s the Cowboy Steak, a bone-in-ribeye, and the highly marbled Kobe-style ribeye.

Another section is dedicated solely to tenderloin filets, the most tender of cuts. The restaurant offers both 12- and 9-oz sizes topped with herb butter, as well as a Chesapeake filet that is topped with lump crab meat and béarnaise.

There’s also the less expensive, but still delicious, sirloin and Annie’s “Bull in the Pan” (steak tips). Meat lovers who crave something other than beef can choose from an array of chops – veal, lamb and pork.

Ultimately, we took our server Dayna’s recommendation and ordered the Prime Rib. It comes three sizes – the regular cut, the smaller Queen cut and the Fred Flintstone-sized King cut. The meat was silky and tender, perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection. We paired our selection with an impressive crab cake, jumbo lump crab melded together with a bit of luscious Imperial sauce.

While steak is the star of the show at Annie’s, the menu contains numerous options to consider, starting with the wine list. Familiar names abound – Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Duckhorn, Cakebread and Opus One – though more affordable vintages are also available.

Appetizers run the gamut from Ahi tuna to escargot and clams casino to PEI mussels. There are many dishes featuring Maryland crab, including crab dip, crab balls and a crab tower with avocado, bacon, tomatoes and blue cheese. The wealth continues with a wide selection of baked oysters and Buffalo wings.

Salads are garden-fresh and accompanied by delicious homemade dressings. Annie’s cream of crab soup is legendary and there’s also Maryland Crab Soup and Oyster Stew.

The list of burgers, specialty sandwiches and flatbread pizzas is as long as your arm. The old school Blue Plate specials are particularly appealing with selections including open-faced roast beef and turkey, as well as meatloaf, pot roast and fish and chips. You can even get omelettes, if breakfast is your thing.

A number of dishes combine steak and seafood, though you can always add your favorite seafood to any steak order. There’s also veal and chicken, as well as a list of entrees from the Mediterranean. Offerings include baked ziti, fettuccini Alfredo, shrimp fra Diablo and spaghetti and meatballs.

And then there are Annie’s Five Star Selections. The menu notes: “Some entrees naturally rise above their peers for superior flavor.” These include the entire “specialties of the house” section of the menu: Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Stuffed Shrimp Imperial, Crab Imperial and Chicken Chesapeake Imperial.

If you have a sweet tooth, dessert is a must. The menu is packed with temptations such as crème brulee, fudge brownie sundae, gourmet carrot cake and Italian lemon cream cake. We opted for the unusual Peach Bread Pudding. It was moist, buttery and large enough to share (but the dish might have been more peachy in season).

Though we’d love to see Annie’s freshen their décor a bit, nothing takes away from the quality of the steak and seafood served here. This one is definitely a keeper!

Annie’s Paramount Steak & Seafood House: 500 Kent Narrows Way North, Grasonville; 410-827-7103 or annies.biz. Open lunch and dinner daily, as well as Brunch on Sundays.

Fun fact: Yes, there’s another Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse. Located near Dupont Circle, this D.C. restaurant is owned by the same family, though the two are operated as completely separate entities.

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