There's a smoke-free dining room downstairs at Scooter's, but most diners prefer to eat in the main dining room. Sure, smoke from the bar sometimes drifts over to the tables, but the large, casual dining area is definitely the place to be.
Wooden ships, nets and other seafaring decorations line the walls. But the most fun is at the tables, which are usually stacked high with steamed crabs, as diners diligently whack the shells with wooden mallets and pry out tiny, sweet morsels of meat.
A bucket of mallets sits alongside a glass case filled with cakes and pies. A lobster tank is filled with living examples of another Scooter's specialty.
Along one wall, two "singing fish" wall plaques wait for youngsters to push a button and bring them to life. A children's menu that includes spaghetti, grilled cheese and chicken tenders also keeps kids happy.
"It's a very family-oriented restaurant," said Ruth Kaitis Lurz, the restaurant's manager and the recently married daughter of owner Jimmy Kaitis. Her husband and niece work there, too, Lurz said.
Scooter's, on Washington Boulevard, or U.S. 1, in Elkridge, is famous for its steamed crabs, prepared with Kaitis' spice, which he hopes one day to sell in supermarkets, Lurz said.
The crabs are flown in from Louisiana, although occasionally Maryland Wye River crabs are served. "On weekends, we go through, on average, in peak season, I want to say 50 bushels or more," Lurz said. There are six dozen crabs in a bushel.
Because the kitchen is not large enough to handle all the crabs, a "crab shack" to the side of the restaurant does the storing and steaming. The shack is also a pickup spot for carry-out orders.
Although crabs are the biggest seller at Scooter's, other seafood items are popular. A steamed seafood combination plate offers a pound-and-a-quarter steamed lobster, mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp and two vegetables for $24.95.
Other seafood entrees include stuffed shrimp, fried oysters, broiled flounder and crab cakes.
Greek food makes a strong showing, with appetizers such as spanakopita, a spinach and feta cheese pie and saganaki, made with a hard Greek cheese called kasseri, which is ignited with Bacardi 151 and served with bread. "That's popular because it makes a show," Lurz said. "It kind of reminds you of a melted provolone."
Greek main courses include Shrimp a la Greco, topped with tomato sauce and feta cheese; and pastitsio, which is similar to baked ziti.
Meat-eaters are not left out, with prime rib, filet mignon, pork chops and more on the menu. About two years ago, Scooter's added tables and chairs for outdoor dining. "We call it our island oasis," Lurz said.
Scooter's Restaurant and Lounge
Where: 7615 Washington Blvd., Elkridge; 410-799-5432.
Hours: Opens at 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. The kitchen closes about 10 p.m., but the bar stays open until 2 a.m. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturdays; the kitchen closes at 11 p.m. Opens at noon Sundays; the kitchen closes at 11 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $1.75 to $9.95; entrees, $7.75 to $29.95.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express