Nicky D’s: Sail on in to great casual waterfront dining

Friday, Aug. 18, 2006

Click here to enlarge this photo
Staff Photo by Reid Silverman
At Nicky D’s seafood restaurant in Valley Lee, waitress Caitlin Wolfe, left, head chef Dana Wolfe, owner Gordon Stellway and bartender Daphne Cahill-Clark are some of the familiar faces you will see. Dishes on display are soft-shelled crabs with fried rockfish and the Philly cheesesteak with onion rings.

Nicky D’s Seafood Restaurant

Route 5 to Route 249 in Valley Lee

St. Mary’s County

Hours: 4-9 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; noon-7 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday-Thursday.

Entrée prices: $7.95-$22

Credit cards: MC, V

Reservations, carry out: 301-994-0035

There are two ways to get to Nicky D’s restaurant, neither of which ‘‘just pass by” the seafood spot.

You can take a boat, travel into Herring Creek and tie up at one of the piers where there’s plenty of room for water visitors. You can also drive down Route 5 through St. Mary’s County, turn right onto Route 249 and turn right again at the sign for Cedar Cove Marina and follow it until you pull into a spot on the gravel and sand lot near the water.

One of my partners in crime and I took the drive Friday evening (they are only open weekends) and, because it was so pleasant, dined outside on the screen-enclosed porch overlooking the piers and waterway.

The menu is short and tantalizing.

The appetizers include my favorite jalapeno poppers ($5.50), hot crab dip ($9) and steamed shrimp ($11.95 for a half pound).

For a change, though, I ordered the special seafood chowder ($4.95). When asked whether I wanted a cup or a bowl, I thought a minute, asked what was for dessert and optimistically chose a cup.

My partner ended up with the appetizer sampler ($7.95), with calamari, three mozzarella sticks and three poppers.

Had we but known, we might have either decided on soup, dessert and sampler or done without the starters.

If this was a cup of soup, then you’ll be able to dive into the bowl, but don’t waste it. It was creamy, loaded with all kinds of seafood, a bit of a kick and delicious.

The sampler came in one of those red plastic baskets and it was filled to the brim. It looked like more than three sticks and poppers and had stacks of tender calamari rings.

I almost offered to help but I was afraid. We were both afraid. If the starters were this size, how big were the entrées?

We found out soon enough.

As we relaxed and my partner nibbled on her sampler, we talked and watched the water. Wild birds could be seen flying in and out of the trees across the creek. It was a beautiful summer evening, perfect temperature and a light breeze.

Soon our dinners arrived and we were both pleased with our choices.

On my cohort’s plate was a fresh potato roll, lettuce leaves, a large slice of tomato and onion rings. Resting quite comfortably on the roll, extending well beyond its edges, was a gorgeous thick broiled crab cake ($13.95).

My dinner plate contained a generous portion of fresh string beans, rice pilaf and a large blackened rockfish filet ($19.95). This was one of the specials. Rockfish is like the filet mignon of fish: It is bigger than it looks on the plate. My fish was very good and the crab cake was a tremendous hit with my partner.

Despite judicious decisions, I finished my dinner but was still unable to eat dessert. No big surprise, but at the last minute I decided that I could possibly carry home a piece of the triple layer chocolate mousse cake ($4.50), so I did.

The menu also includes a Cedar Cove grilled chicken breast salad ($8.95) and Nicky’s steamed shrimp salad ($12.95).

For the seafood lovers, there’s a pound of steamed shrimp ($22), a soft shell crab sandwich ($8.85) and a soft shell crab platter with a pair of crabs ($15.95).

Nicky D’s is a casual seafood restaurant, so the majority of the food is fish oriented for fingers, but don’t think you have to leave your landlubber family members home.

If you do have nonseafood eaters in the group, they can find satisfaction in a tender grilled chicken breast ($7.95), a dish called awesome honey stung fried chicken ($9.95), a perfect hamburger ($7.95) or the Philly cheesesteak sandwich ($7.95).

Several selections come with a choice of sides, including the vegetable of the day, fries and onion rings.

Baskets contain crispy fried clam strips ($9), golden chicken strips ($7.95) or a pound of fan tailed fried shrimp ($12.95) and come with fries or onion rings.

The desserts Friday also included ice cream ($2.50) and apple pie á la mode ($4.95).

Early Friday evening the traffic is still light, but don’t wait too long to grab a spot inside or out. We had a good time because it was a wonderful meal and we had very good service.

The next time I go to Nicky D’s, though, I may have to decide between the sampler, soft shell crabs or dessert. I ate the whole piece of cake.