NORTH EAST — The Port House Grill restaurant won Maryland’s Top Crab Cake honors on Monday in a statewide competition at LaFontaine Bleue in Glen Burnie.
An ecstatic Hudson Benson, who owns the eatery located at 15 N. Main St. , said it was a very busy weekend for his son, Kelly, who manages the restaurant, and the rest of the staff and his family.
After hosting 200 participants of the Friends of the Library’s first crab crawl to raise funds for the Cecil County Public Library on Saturday in North East, he and several members of his staff headed to Glen Burnie on Monday to cook crab cakes from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Hudson said that he learned of the competition when he got a call from a member of the Mid-Atlantic Networking group asking him to compete.
“I thought why not?,” he recalled. Now, he’s glad he did.
The networking group organized the event, which attracted seven restaurants to compete for top crab cake honors, along with several business vendors and beer vendors. They are considering making it an annual event. Each restaurant in the competition had to cook enough crab cakes to allow up to 1,000 bite size tastings.
“We brought 1,000 and used nearly all of them,” Benson said, estimating that the crowd of somewhere between 600 to 700 customers sampled the crab cakes.
Anyone could attend the event for a $20 admission fee, which got them tokens to use to “pay” for each tasting. “By the end of the evening, we had people coming back asking how many tokens it would take to get a whole crab cake,” Hudson said. “We were feeling pretty good by then, especially since we were competing against mostly bigger restaurants from the Glen Burnie area.”
Despite a grueling weekend schedule, Hudson has no regrets. He now can advertise that he has “award winning” crab cakes and will proudly display the wooden blue crab plaque in his restaurant as soon as it gets engraved.“It was a neat experience,” he said. “We made a lot of new friends who promise to stop and see us.”
Participants were asked to cast a ballot for the restaurant with the best crab cake at the end of the competition. Port House Grill came in first with 24 percent of the votes cast, while Bleue’s Bistro came in second place with 19 percent of the votes and Pappas Restaurant came in third with 16 percent of the vote.