Donnelly's Dockside Dishes Out Good Food And Views

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An early dinner at Donnelly's Dockside in Arnold was a breath of fresh air – literally. A companion and I stopped on a busy day of a hectic week, and I'm so glad we did. We had a beautiful, peaceful and delicious lunch by the Magothy River. Though we chose to eat on the large waterfront deck, we had many options available — on the pier or outside under a tent. All of the selections provided a gorgeous view.

The owners do a great job making it a comfortable place to chill. The light-colored walls, blue chairs on the deck, and wood floors — complemented by nautical themed décor — offer a clean, fresh feel. Add the laid-back country music (playing the afternoon we were there), and altogether you have a "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" vibe going on. We watched sailboats and kayaks pass and sea birds with their wings spread, resting on the pier.

Our young waitress, Grace, was friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. For our appetizer, we shared chipotle fish bites. The fish in the dish varies, Grace told us. This time it was salmon, one of my favorites. What a pleaser! The spicy, slightly hot chipotle sauce drizzled on the salmon paired nicely with the fresh black bean and corn salsa. We were pleasantly surprised to discover the fish was served over a perfectly fried green tomato, cornmeal crisp on the outside and tender, and slightly tangy on the inside.

My main course was the pan-seared Chilean sea bass, with passion fruit beurre blanc, served with citrus brown rice and the vegetable of the day — broccoli and cauliflower. The sweet taste was a bit of a surprise, and I enjoyed that contrast between the light, tender fish and citrusy sweet buttery sauce and rice. This was an excellent dish, but a little too "buttery" for our taste.

My companion chose to have oysters on the half shell for his entree. He added cocktail sauce and horseradish before taking his first bite and smiled with a Cheshire cat grin. How does it taste? I have to admit, I did not partake. He described them as tasting like the ocean – salty, briny and delicious.

Our dessert was fabulous. One of the best! We had the vanilla/chocolate cheesecake. Grace said it’s new, and folks are literally "eating them up." Vanilla cheesecake filling sits atop a circular graham cracker crust, topped with a layer of chocolate, drizzled with raspberry and topped with chocolate cream/icing. "That," my companion said, "is killer!" By that, he meant super good. To me, it meant my diet is destined to fail, but this particular dessert is worth the temporary sabotage. Decadent and sweet, the layers of flavor — vanilla, chocolate and raspberry — were terrific. This dessert is a sweet treat best served with some strong coffee. Also, don't let the smaller portion fool you; it's filling. We didn't finish it, so I took the leftover cheesecake home, and I had some for breakfast (I can walk it off later, right?)

I plan to return to Donnelly's Dockside this year, and I'll bring friends. I'd love to sit on the pier, with the hanging lights, and enjoy the peace, beauty and fine food.

Donnelly's offers a bar on the main level and downstairs.

The cost is reasonable. For two entrees, an appetizer and three drinks, the price was about $70.

Check out the specials on Facebook. Reservations are encouraged.

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