Orange Anchor makes port, calls all on deck for nautical comfort food

February 26, 2015

“Is it joy? Is it friendship? Is it experience? Is it a means to survival? What is food to you?”

These are the kinds of questions my friend, Katherine, posed to me after eating the fried brussel sprouts at Orange Anchor, the latest upscale seafood joint to hit the Georgetown Waterfront. Consuming these crunchy, charred morsels bathed in maple-mustard vinaigrette and covered in bacon was an undertaking in the vein of eating Proustian madeleines and being plunged back into evocative images of a sickly childhood in a rural French village.

It evidently required some serious philosophical reflection.

I don’t say that to put you off, but rather to shed light on the transformative experience that was eating such fried glory disguised as vegetables. When we asked our charming and wonderful waitress, Mary-Anne, what she felt like when she ate these brussel sprouts, she said it was like wearing her favorite pajamas. I had to agree, especially considering how lethargic and desperate for “boots with the fur” I felt afterward.

I don’t usually think about what food is to me, except that the word covers a wide range of varying gustatory pleasures and less pleasurable necessities. Here, however, I was challenged. I was also filled with lots of heavy comfort food, so it really wasn’t much of a struggle.

Since Katherine and I are both college students wary of exceeding an unspoken price limit on our meals consumed solely in the name of journalistic investigation and giving truth to the people, we stuck to shared sides instead of the more expensive options in the à la carte section (which included lobster and the kind of fancy fishy fare you would expect at a self-respecting seafood restaurant with anchors liberally decorating its upholstery).

After being served a complimentary Vineyard-Vines-whale-sticker-adorned bucket of popcorn seasoned with Old Bay, we proceeded with the Crab Fritters and the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese, both $10. The Crab Fritters were five perfect bite-sized beer-battered balls of crab filling, paired with a creamy sauce that rounded out their fritter-nity. It was really a Natty-Light-splattered rager of a dish.

The Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese was a bit less satisfying than the Crab Fritters and brussel sprouts because it was weighed down with heavy sauces and the lobster bits were barely visible swimming in the vast ocean of liquid cheese. In retrospect, I would have saved room for the more authentic seafood offerings on the menu. In the immortal words of Edith Piaf, however, I regret nothing. Both the good and the overly cheesy are the same to me.

Speaking of the good, we topped off our nautical meal with two Stout Brownies with Nutella Ice Cream, also $10. While the brownies were satisfyingly scrumptious, I was confused by the “stout” description because I could taste none of said brown beer and saw little indication that the brownie was “brave and strong.” The Nutella ice cream, on the other hand, was predictably heavenly, but there was far too little of it. When one has homemade Nutella ice cream in one’s repertoire, one should give generously.

Nevertheless, it was the perfect bookend to a meal filled with comfortable yet thought-provoking tastes. I’m definitely on board.

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