A 24-karat-gold crab cake and other dishes to splurge on

Published 2/19/2023 6:00 a.m. EST

By the Docks - 23K Gold Crab Cake.

If ever there’s a question whether to order more food when dining out, my answer is always yes. And that often doesn’t bode well for my bank account at the end of the night — especially when there is a unique or never-before-seen dish on the menu. But, as the saying goes, you can’t take it with you.

When you’ve got the urge to splurge, here are a few of my favorite dishes to indulge.

By the Docks - 23K Gold Crab Cake.

3321 Eastern Blvd., Middle River

All that glitters is gold, and sometimes it’s a crab cake. At least that’s the case at By The Docks, a seafood-heavy, modern-American restaurant whose most recent claim to fame is a single 8-ounce crab cake made with jumbo lump crab and wrapped in 24-karat edible gold leaf. At the hefty price of $150 a pop, have your camera ready to snap a few shots to remember the glittering goodness after it’s gone.

725 Aliceanna St., Baltimore

If you don’t like your food getting cold while your foodie friends take photos, I have the perfect solution! Azumi’s Japanese A5 Miyazaki Wagyu shows up to your table covered in shaved truffles and surrounded by fire, so you can be the first to grab your bite when the flame dies down. If you haven’t experienced the melt-in-your-mouth magic that is Japanese A5 Wagyu, your first bite is a core memory you’ll never forget.

And while you’re there, make your meal surf and turf by adding the Flaming King Crab Roll — a tuna avocado roll smothered in spicy king crab, achiote oil, and eel sauce. As the name suggests, it also arrives on fire. Just be careful not to burn your fingers or tongue.

814 S. Broadway, Baltimore

While most people wear gold, I like it sprinkled in my martinis. So it’s natural that’d I’d start my evening at Duck Duck Goose with the Golden Goose — an expertly crafted cocktail made with Absolut Vodka, Akvavit, Lillet Blanc, green grape juice, lime and champagne. In my opinion, it’s the perfect beverage to sip as your 28-ounce prime tomahawk steak is being prepared. While I normally order multiple entrees to share, you’ll have a hard time finding room on the table once you add a few irresistible sides. My favorites? The savory black truffle mac and cheese and creamy pomme puree.

1728 Thames St., Baltimore

Sometimes the simplest dish is also the most sophisticated. And that certainly holds true when it comes to the seafood tower at Thames Street Oyster House. It’s no secret that this is one of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore. (Their lobster roll holds up to the best in New England). Plus, I love the experience of choosing your own adventure in seafood tower form. With new and fresh selections every week (depending on seasonal availability), you can experience a variety of oysters from North America, humongous shrimp, clams, lobster, and stone crabs, to name just a few of the options. And if you want to elevate your experience, wash it all down with a champagne toast.

I never shy away from a little shameless self-promotion, particularly when it comes to one of my very first food collaborations — The Boujee Burger — designed by yours truly and Chef Josh Vecchiola of the Fuzzies Burgers food truck. It’s love at first bite when the A5 wagyu patty, smothered in truffle fondue, melts in your mouth again and again and again. Unfortunately, you have to savor it while you can since it’s only offered a few times a year in very limited quantities. But until it makes its next appearance, enjoy one of Fuzzies’ other signature burgers with a side of Shore-style fries covered in malt vinegar powder and Old Bay.

3 Federal St., Easton

You’ve passed by it on your way to Ocean City, but if you haven’t stopped in Easton, you’re missing out on one of our state’s small-town gems. In the heart of Easton’s downtown is The Stewart, an intimate bar and lounge offering fine champagnes (poured in vintage Baccarat flutes) and Scotch whiskies, in addition to a rich selection of snacks, small plates and newly introduced entrees. But if you want an over-the-top experience, order a few “caviar spoons” for the table. Dab the caviar on your hand between your thumb and forefinger, and down the hatch it goes.

1012 Eastern Ave., Baltimore

Whether it’s a special occasion or a random night out on the town, when seafood pasta is on the menu, I’m ordering it. This is especially true when I’m dining at La Scala, because no dish satisfies my carb and crustacean cravings like Chef Nino Germano’s Lobster Regina — prepared using homemade penne, two lobster tails, jumbo lump crab and a red pepper cream sauce. And don’t forget the cardinal rule of every visit to La Scala: Close out the evening with Baltimore’s best espresso martini.

Blue Agave - sundae en Fuego.

1032 Light St., Baltimore

Splurging doesn’t have to be exorbitantly expensive. That’s why the Sundae en Fuego from Blue Agave is making its appearance here. One of the largest sundaes available locally, it’s served in an overflowing bowl of vanilla ice cream, Mexican chocolate, and house-made cinnamon whipped cream, and topped with four churros. The best part? It’s drizzled with a FLAMING shot of Grand Marnier and Reposado tequila — so you can grab a little buzz along with that perfect Instagram shot. I highly encourage making this your dinner one night.

Chris Franzoni is a Baltimore native, resident, food fanatic, and “Eater-in-Chief” of @EatMoreBeMore, which he started seven years ago with two goals – eating his way through the city and shining a positive light on the Baltimore restaurant and hospitality scene.

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