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Eat Feature

Exit 36

Southeast Boulevard, Essex / Middle River

Posted 2/23/2000

To get your ducks in a row, start your visit to the Wild Duck Café (3408 Red Rose Farm Road, Bowley's Quarters, [410] 335-2121) with a tasty libation from the bar. Any bar. There's one on the beach, one on the way up the hill to the restaurant, and one adjoining the large, windowed dining room. Next, order a sandwich or a steamed-shrimp-and-veggie platter. As the sun sets on Frog Mortar Creek, top your dinner off with a nightcap as the tiki torches are lit and the live music starts below on the shore.

An Essex staple, Jad's (137 Back River Neck Road, Essex, [410] 686-2816), is the eastern-county spot for good home cooking at bargain rates. Seniors have a full menu page to themselves, but younger folks flock for nightly specials highlighting beef and seafood. (Call ahead for all-you-can-eat deals on steamed crabs.) Desserts are specially made for the restaurant and so cheap you'll want to box a slice or two to go.

In these days of nouveau Italian, you can't find good old spaghetti and meatballs on most menus. But Romeo's (313 Back River Neck Road, Essex, [410] 686-1459), which is nouveau on the Essex scene, serves up hearty, well-priced versions of all the Italian standbys. You can get your old-fashioned spags, with meatballs the size of baseballs, and the fried eggplant makes a lovely starter or side dish.

For the best combination of breakfast and view to be found around town, grab a white plastic chair on the porch at the Driftwood Inn (203 Nanticoke Road, Essex, [410] 391-3493). Ease back with coffee, complimentary fresh fruit, and contemplate your choices as you contemplate Hopkins Creek. Dig in to a plate of creamed chipped beef the size of Texas, or real fruit pancakes, or our fave, the crab omelet, with plenty of snowy crab, tomato, and mild cheese.

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