Brad and Tricia Hudson were frustrated by the lack of a good seafood restaurant in Howard County. So they took matters into their own hands and opened their fish house, Hudson Coastal Raw Bar & Grille, in Maple Lawn in November.
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” Tricia Hudson said. “We wanted to build something we could go to.”
The Ellicott City couple, who have three children ages 2 to 9, bring hospitality backgrounds to their business. Tricia Hudson worked for Hilton Hotels & Resorts in catering before becoming a meeting planner. Her husband had jobs at Ruby Tuesday and Sysco.
“We decided to join forces,” she said. “It’s definitely a family affair.”
They built an airy, modern restaurant with a coastal vibe, capturing the look of a casual beach house with upscale accouterments like a quartz bar and white china.
The wood tables and metal chairs add a rustic sensibility. Note: The chairs are more comfortable than they appear.
The dominant blue-striped banquettes, nautical flags and paddles promote the seafood being served there. Monitors around the room showcase the fresh catches of the day and the oysters du jour.
Recent choices included Chesapeake rockfish and mackerel —which can be prepared in multiple ways — and local Choptank Sweets and Chesapeake Gold oysters.
Chef Joel Young, a Columbia native and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, oversees a menu that features dishes popular along the Eastern seaboard. Meat lovers and vegetarians will also find options. On Sundays, brunch is served.
We started our meal with complimentary and pleasantly sweet cheese biscuits before receiving our appetizers. The oysters Rockefeller were among the best we’ve had. The six half shells (from Virginia) were topped with fresh spinach, bacon and toasted breadcrumbs for a delicious rendition.
We liked the gooey hot crab dip but would have preferred less Old Bay, event though we love the Baltimore spice mix. There is an Old Bay shaker on the table if people want more, but you can’t subtract it once it’s in the food. The toasted baguette slices were great dippers.
We were still digging into the dip when a runner brought our main dishes. It’s always awkward because we don’t know whether to continue eating the first dish and risk the entrees’ getting cold. Like good sports, we pushed aside the appetizer and began focusing our attention on our main dishes.
The seafood sampler was outstanding. The portions aren’t huge, but that’s one of the things we liked about it. The plate was attractively arranged with a wonderful jumbo-lump crab cake befitting a seafood restaurant, three baked shrimp dotted with melted cheese, and a 3-ounce piece of mouthwatering broiled cod with lemon butter. The sauteed green beans and marvelous sweet-potato tots sprinkled with sea salt were terrific accompaniments.
The DelMarVa chicken was a success with a succulent 8-ounce grilled breast lathered with a cheese-enhanced crab imperial sauce. The dish came with green beans and fries.
We have to give props to our pleasant waiter. We mistakenly thought the chicken dish came with mashed potatoes and mentioned it to him. When he assured us we had the right side dishes, we apologized and continued with our meal. In the meantime, he went to the kitchen and returned with a bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes for us. We were impressed with his thoughtfulness.
In keeping with a beach theme, a funnel cake is one of the desserts available. It’s a fun treat to share, especially with the strawberry drizzle and powdered sugar.
The lemon-berry mascarpone cake was delectable. The moist two-layer wedge was studded with fruit and was a refreshing finish to our meal.
Hudson Coastal has a bar program that includes artisan cocktails like The New Old Fashioned and a Sunset Mule, fruit crushes, wines by the bottle and glass, including a fantastic crisp Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis, and beers in the bottle and on draft.
The Hudsons, who are hands-on owners, have created an inland beach escape for those who can’t get to the water, complete with an impressive array of seafood.
It’s not fancy — and that’s just the way they want it.