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It’s 4 o’clock on a Monday, an hour at which most restaurants in the region are about as boisterous as a monastery. And yet Westminster’s RockSalt Grille is packed, with a jovial atmosphere as diners order the best crab cakes for miles before the restaurant closes for an employee appreciation party scheduled for later that evening.

And boy, do those employees deserve the party.

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RockSalt Grille seems to live by a simple premise: Offer fresh, reasonably priced crab cakes with fantastic service, and the guests will come. Any restaurant owner knows that’s harder to do than it sounds, but RockSalt makes it look easy. The restaurant has been doing brisk business since it was opened in 2017 by industry veterans Susan and Lee Nardyz.

First impressions: The eatery was filled during both afternoon visits. Expect to wait during peak hours. The presence of flag-themed decor manages to look tasteful, not kitschy.

Must-tries: We started with oysters — they offer a wonderful selection with varieties from Prince Edward Island, Rhode Island and, of course, the Chesapeake. But the restaurant’s specialty is the minimally adorned jumbo lump crab cake. It’s broiled and crunchy on the outside, moist in the middle. We devoured it as part of the $32 “steak and cake” meal, which pairs it with a juicy, 12 oz. filet, more food than probably anyone could ever eat in one sitting.

Special touches: For dessert, the kitchen offers a selection of baked goods from Hampstead’s Bertucco’s Bakery. We made a mental note to check that place out after biting into the incredible peanut butter chocolate bomb.

Pro tip: Service is more accommodating than what you’ll find at many of the area’s higher-end restaurants. Both visits, a manager graciously came by to check on us as we finished to see how everything was. A bartender managed to simultaneously keep pint glasses full while chatting up an elderly visitor as she awaited her carryout order. During another trip, our server patiently walked us through all the menu offerings and answered our questions authoritatively, as though she didn’t have several other tables to check on. (Area restaurants, take note. This is hospitality done right.)

Bottom line: One of the hardest questions I can ask of any restaurant is: Could I take my family there? Would they get my father’s gin martini just right, and make it again if it wasn’t perfect? Would their fries pass muster with my brother-in-law, the chef? I have yet to bring my family to Westminster’s RockSalt Grille, but I certainly plan to. With well-executed dishes and on-the-ball service, the place is a study in what can transform a great neighborhood restaurant into a destination all its own.

IF YOU GO

65 W. Main St., Westminster. 410-861-6400. rocksaltgrille.com. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Reservations available for parties of 6 or more.

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