Whenever we come down to the boat for the weekend, we often make one stop during our visit to eat lunch at Courtney’s Restaurant, the best seafood dive in southern Maryland. Tom Courtney — the owner — catches all the fish and crabs on the menu (I think he also catches most of the oysters as well, but I’m not sure whether he catches the clams anymore), while his wife — Julie — is the only cook for the establishment. In the winter months it’s just the two of them, but they occasionally bring in one or two others to help during the busy summer months.
Since they don’t have a huge kitchen or wait staff (remember — it’s generally just the two of them), eating here is a relaxed and leisurely process. While the orders are being prepared from scratch by Julie, we often see kids outside playing or exploring the docks, while the parents stay at the table, immersed in conversations and their beverage of choice. If the customers arrived during the peak of lunch or dinner, the wait can be 30 minutes or more before everyone’s entrée finally arrives, but what excellent food it is!
Big hint: if you’re in a hurry or expect service like they have in the big cities — don’t come here. And don’t have an attitude about it, either.
During the years that we’ve eaten here, we’ve discovered that the best route to follow is to just ignore the menu and go with whatever Julie recommends, as it will be the best and freshest seafood they have to offer. Our meal on this occasion was the recommended fried croaker basket. Other times it has been rockfish… or enormous soft-shelled blue crabs… or even sea squab. Man, that woman can cook! And a here’s a tip: there’s more fish in the lunch basket than in the dinner platter, so if fish is what you hanker for, get the basket.
Below is my beautiful bride, Cindy, viewing the nearby activity on the water from the window of our favorite table.