People just never, ever stumble across Nick’s Fish House casually or by accident.
Hidden out of sight by a small marina at the base of the Hanover St Bridge just south of Rte 95 and sandwiched between industrial neighbors, it’s hard to believe that you’re a two minute drive from the hubbub of Federal hill.
Nick’s has an amazingly large covered outdoor deck which provides the classic Baltimore environment for downing crabs and beers. There’s also an attractive indoor large bar and a couple of airy dining rooms with tall ceilings and lots of windows (and a second “hidden” deck perched above the dining rooms!). From just about anywhere in Nick’s, we found west-facing views (particular awesome during late summer sunsets…) of the cascading “Beaux Arts” arches of the 1916 bridge as well as the parks and Harbor Hospital across the water.
Even on a Wednesday evening, the joint was jumping with a diverse mix of 20-60+ year olds. We opted to eat in the air-conditioned dining room where all the tables could enjoy the water views.
The one page menu was supplemented by a one page list of specials. On the main menu, we found a dozen appetizers ($7-$16), a half dozen salads ($7-$15), soups (MD crab or Gumbo – both $7), a half dozen sandwiches ($8-$17 with made-here “Old Bay” chips), and a dozen entrees ($14-$28). The “specials” included half a dozen seafood “steamer pots” ($20-$32). Together with our friend Tom, we decided to share a pound of steamed shrimp for $11 (special price only available on Wednesdays otherwise $21). The shrimp were jumbo sized and cooked just right with a touch of old bay and earned our “Thumbs Up!” easily.
A couple of ladies next to us had the “Crab Pretzel” ($16) which was a foot long and piled high with crab and melted cheese – we asked if it was as good as it looked and got a quick, resounding “YES!”. (We concluded that it would make a great appetizer to share with four people)
For our main course, Marty ordered a soft shell crab platter ($19), John opted for a seafood Cobb salad ($15) and Tom went with “Fish & Chips” ($14). Marty’s soft shell was impressively “whale” sized with a mound of fries plus mixed julienned veggies. Marty felt that it was sautéed right avoiding the pitfalls of too much batter and/or swimming in fat. He was glad that he ordered only one and gave it an unqualified “Thumbs Up!” (taking into account 60+ years of eating soft shells, that’s saying something!) Marty’s gave high marks to his fries – it was clear to him that these were made from scratch here and didn’t come out of a freezer box.
The “Fish & Chips” was equally impressive with three big, thick chunks of fish and a mound of fries and coleslaw. The fish avoided being overly breaded nor dripping in oil and got a “Thumbs Up!” from Tom.
The big Cobb salad included a mound of crab meat and a few shrimp; it was topped with real bacon crumbles and slices of avocado with an avocado ranch dressing and left John feeling right satisfied.
We decided to share a special dessert, Banana Xango ($7) which had caught our eye. The deep fried banana wrapped in a tortilla with caramel and blobs of whipped cream proved a delicious ending to our meal (earning yet another round of “Thumbs Up”).
Between the delicious food, the water views plus our friendly and attentive waitress, we were glad to have taken the time to find our way off the beaten paths to Nick’s.
FACTS: Nick’s Fish House and Grill; 2600 Insulator Dr; 410-347-4123; www.nicksfishhouse.com; Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner 11am -10 pm; full bar; Minimal vegetarian options; lots of adjacent free parking