Saturday, October 28, 2017
It was a beautiful crisp sunny October day for the Harvest Taste of Solomons, a fall tradition in Solomons. Visitors have an opportunity to sample dishes at restaurants, learning about new dishes at a favorite restaurant or trying a new one. You need to be prepared to walk, and from past experience, take along a few friends – this way you will get a chance to sample everything!
Tickets were $4 per sample, with the samples varying at each restaurant. Some served a small plate with several items and others had one item per ticket. Tickets could be purchased at any restaurant or at Berkshire-Hathaway/McNellis Realty, located across the street from the Solomons Gazebo. Hidden among the tickets were “prize” tickets that were redeemable at different restaurants.
We started out the day at Charles Street Brasserie, and immediately the group was lucky. One purchased a ticket that had a pumpkin sticker on the back. That entitled her to a $25 gift certificate for Charles Street Brasserie for a later date. We enjoyed a beautiful view of Back Creek as we waited for our first taste – lamb chops with rice, topped with a delicious cherry demi-glaze and Oysters Rockefeller. The Oysters Rockefeller were different, with the oysters fried atop a warm creamy sauce with a touch of grated cheese. Tammy said it was a nice texture, with a great taste. We tried the Charles Street Sweet Tea Martini which went down as smooth as a glass of sweet tea. Collen Tahleen, a regular customer, was enjoying the Cream of Crab soup. She said it was outstanding, with a hint of sweetness.
Charles Street Brasserie, 120 Charles St., Solomons, MD 20688; 443-404-5332, www.charlesstreetbrass.com.
This was the last weekend of the season for The Tiki Bar, an open-air bar with a tropical feel. Here the bartenders were serving up two of their signature drinks, Mai Tais and KoKomos. Fortunately they took into consideration the crisp October weather and also had hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps and apple cider spiked with Fireball. Bartender Charlene Lankford told me this was their third year of participation and they “loved the opportunity to meet new people, see old friends and just have a great time.” This would be their final weekend until next spring, so don’t forget to check their website for opening day information in April 2018.
The Tiki Bar, 85 Charles St., Solomons, MD 20688; 410-326-4075; www.tikibarsolomons.com.
At the Grill Sergeant BBQ we started with smoked spare ribs that were falling off the bone – I added a little BBQ sauce and it was gone in a minute. Funnel Cake fries are just like what you would get at a carnival or fair, except they are sticks, like fries. They were covered with powdered sugar, with a choice of cherry or blueberry sauce. Delicious! Hands down the winner of the day were the pig wings, a thick hunk of tender meat that left your hands sticky, juice dripping and your mouth wanting more. The owner, Mike Thiessen, said he uses his own vinegar based recipe. It has a mid-western flavor. Lisa Dillon said that there is “nothing better than a summer day at the Tiki Bar with a couple of beers and the Grill Sergeant’s pig wings.”
The Grill Sergeant BBQ, 77 Charles St., Solomons, MD 20688; 410-394-6000; www.thegrillsgtbbq.com.
Island Sushi opened five weeks ago, but it is going to be a great addition to the food selection in Solomons. The owner, Chong Won and his wife Jisun, are originally from Michigan. They found the location, tucked next door to the Tiki Bar and the Grill Sergeant and fell in love with the view and island atmosphere. Their presentation of a three-piece roll dish with Salmon, Tuna and California rolls was beautiful and delicious. They plan to stay open throughout the winter, serving Sushi, Hibachi and other items. You can find them on Facebook under Island Sushi Solomons.
Island Sushi, 75 Charles St., Solomons, MD 20688; 301-481-4776; www.islandsushisolomons.com.
The Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar was serving their signature Crab Dip with Crab Chips. The dip was thick and creamy with lots of crab meat, with chips that had a hint of Old Bay. We could have sat eating the dip and enjoying the beautiful view of Back Creek all afternoon. Alice had a cup of the Half & Half Soup, made by mixing equal parts of Maryland Crab Soup and Cream of Crab Soup. She said it was “the best of both worlds!” Tammy noted that they had the coldest beer of any place on the Island. We talked with one of the owners, Nick Shriver, who said it was a great opportunity for people to come out and try all the restaurants.
The Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar, 14636 S. Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, MD 20688; 410-231-2256; www.lighthouserestaurantanddockbar.com.
Sitting on the front lawn of the Lotus Kitchen/ Kim’s Key Lime Pie, under large trees, we watched the world go by as we sampled a trio of dips with fresh pita chips and the Chipotle Pumpkin Chili. According to Faith Chase, they were “bursting with island flavor.” The Caramel Apple Cider had the taste of a rich apple pie topped with caramel. The young man walked out to the table with a Kim’s Key Lime Pie, which I had to sample. The pies are made from the recipe of the original owner, Kim, and it is absolutely the best Key Lime Pie around. A must have! The restaurant is open Wednesday – Sunday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. I would also recommend stopping for breakfast to enjoy their quiche. They are also open Friday evenings with music.
Lotus Kitchen featuring Kim’s Key Lime Pies, 14618 Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, MD 20688; www.lotuskitchensolomons.com.
Island Hideaway was next, and we grabbed a window seat before we chose our selections. The restaurant is a cozy place, nestled by the water between Harmon House Shoppes and carmen’s gallery. Half the table chose the Seafood Cannelloni made with Half N’ Half, thick and creamy and filled with seafood. The other half had the Bolognese, noodles covered with a sauce thick with meat and a hint of sweetness. The Key Lime Pie was smooth and had that tart tang a good Key Lime Pie should have. We decided to share a Crown Apple Pie Sangria. It tasted just like liquid apple pie and left us wanting more.
Christopher Donaldson, one of the owners of Island Hideaway, and the manager, Charlie Chappell, are the co-chairs for the Taste of Solomons. The event, held twice a year, is a fundraiser for the Solomons Business Association (SBA). Charlie serves as the secretary for the organization. The event takes a great deal of time to coordinate, but they volunteer to support the community and the businesses in Solomons. Money raised will help to fund the annual 4th of July fireworks.
Christopher said the event draws people from out-of-the-area and gives them a chance to preview the restaurants and their menus. The fall event it lets people know that the restaurants do not “close down” for the winter. If you are looking for a place to “get-away” this winter, Solomons is the place, with great restaurants, hotels and attractions.
Island Hideaway, 14556 Solomons Island Rd. S, Solomons, MD 20688; 410-449-6382; www.theislandhideawaysolomons.com.
Solomons Island Winery recently opened a tasting room in Solomons. The winery offers a wine for everyone, sweet, dry and dessert. Dry wines include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their sweet wines include Pineapple Pinot Grigio, Green Apple Riesling, Black Raspberry Merlot and Rose Wine. They offer seasonal dessert wines including a Chocolate Raspberry Port. The tasting room is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Solomons Island Winery, 14575 Solomons Island Rd. S, Solomons, MD 20688; 410-394-1933; www.solomonsislandwinery.com.
The Pier is the only restaurant sitting literally on top of the Patuxent River. It has beautiful views of sunsets over the Thomas Johnson Bridge, a landmark in Southern Maryland. Serving were TJ and one of the owners, Jessie Hall. Jessie said it had been very busy, but it was great seeing so many new faces and hoped they would enjoy the event so much they would come back to the island for lunch or dinner. The Pier served pork sliders with a smooth BBQ sauce, signature Pier Chili, and mini-pumpkin caramel pies. The Pier Chili is not for the faint of heart. One of the managers, Ryan, told me that the chili is made in a southwestern style with jalapenos and red pepper. It was delicious, and yes, you tasted the heat. The mini-pumpkin pies were rich and creamy. They were also serving a pumpkin-tini, a great way to enjoy a fall afternoon. The Pier offers great seafood dishes and a delicious brunch on Sundays. Stop by and try it!
George and Brenda Leonard, of Waldorf, were enjoying a pulled pork slider at one of the tables outside of The Pier. They had come to Solomons specifically for the event after finding it on Facebook. They said the event allowed them to try new restaurants and see what their favorite restaurants were doing. They were already planning the restaurant where they would have dinner that night!
The Pier Restaurant, 14575 Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, MD 20688; 410-449-8406; www.thepiersolomons.com.
We grabbed a window seat at The Crab Pot Bar & Grill, which commanded a view of the Patuxent River. Like many of the other restaurants, they had set up a separate area with their Harvest Taste of Solomons selections, so we got in line for our samples of Bleu Cheese Filet Mignon Bites and Crab Stuffed Jalapenos served with Melba Sauce. The Bleu Cheese Filet Mignon bites were tender and tasty, with the Bleu Cheese offering just the right amount of tang. Our first bite into the Crab-Stuffed Jalapenos had us wondering where the heat was, and then we felt it, and went back three times for more! Each jalapeno was cut into quarters, with a smooth crab and cheese topping that would start to go down and then boom – there was that heat. Well done! The Very Berry Crush was filled with blueberries and blackberries.
Crab Pot Bar and Grill, 14470 Solomons Island Rd. S, Solomons, MD 20688; 410-326-2424; www.stoneysseafoodhouse.com/crabpotbarandgrill
Kingfisher’s Seafood House was the last restaurant we enjoyed “on the island.” They were serving their signature Crab and Cheese Macaroni, blackened cod fish tacos with corn salsa, and Old Bay Wings. The Crab and Cheese Macaroni was creamy with chunks of crab meat. The blackened cod fish tacos with salsa were made with bite size pieces of cod, with a tasty salsa. The Old Bay Wings were juicy with a tang! We sat on the back porch looking down Back Creek, talking about how lucky we were to live in such a beautiful location.
Kingfisher’s Seafood, Bar & Grill, 14442 Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, MD 20688; 410-394-0236; www.stoneysseafoodhouse.com/kingfishers.
Calvert Marine Museum is an excellent way to spend an afternoon with family and friends. The museum provided goodie bags for children, but then aren’t we all children at heart. It included a pencil, small collectable disc, a fossil head and a real shark tooth!
Calvert Marine Museum, 14200 Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, MD 20688; 410-326-2042; www.calvertmarinemuseum.com.
Angler’s Seafood Bar and Grill, located at the end of Lore Road, provided a delicious Oyster Po Boy, served on a bun with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. I also got a bit of cocktail sauce to add a bit of tang to the taste. The oysters were breaded and fried to perfection. Our table also tried the Rockfish bites served with Boom Boom Sauce and a delicious crab mac & cheese. The bites were lightly breaded and disappeared quickly! Macaroni and cheese is always a favorite, but add crab meat and a touch of Old Bay and it is delicious! Angler’s served one of their signature drinks, Captain Crush, made with Captain Morgan and mixed with freshly squeezed orange juice. Our waitress, Dawn Harris, said the Taste of Solomons had brought many new customers that she hoped would come back again. Angler’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Throughout the week they have trivia night and music.
Angler’s Seafood Bar & Grill, 275 Lore Road, Solomons, MD 20688; 410-326-2772; www.anglers-seafood.com.
Captain Smith’s Seafood, located in the Solomons Shopping Center, is a seafood market, but don’t let that fool you. They can cook to order just about anything in the store. It was crowded, but worth the wait. There we sampled a delicious maple-glazed bacon-wrapped scallop that several people had recommended. The oyster stew was thick and creamy, made from a recipe given to the owner, Chris Bowen, by his grandmother. Also included was a large fried shrimp and hush puppies. The tastiest sample was the one we were not sure we wanted to try – Snakehead bites. Surprisingly the meat was delicious, all white and flaky. Chris told us he had been very busy that day, with more than 100 people stopping by.
Capt. Smith’s Seafood, 13944 Solomons Island Rd. S, Solomons, MD 20688; 410-326-1134; www.captainsmithseafood.com.
EZ Thai Too is located just north of the southern branch of the Calvert County Library. If you are from the area, the building they occupy was once the Solomons Volunteer Fire Department. If you have not stopped there for Thai food you are missing a treat! For the Harvest Taste of Solomons they featured several of my favorites from their menu, with all of the items made to order. A cabbage roll, the EZ Roll was tightly wrapped served with a sauce. They were crunchy and had a nice flavor. The Tom Yum Soup, type of hot and sour soup, was made with lemongrass, lots of spices and herbs. EZ Mummy was a great item to have on the weekend before Halloween. A jumbo shrimp, wrapped in noodles and quickly fried, it was served with EZ Rolls and sweet and sour sauce. Delicious! The Red Curry Chicken was small chunks of white chicken in a sauce made with red curry, ginger, a hint of garlic and coconut milk. The restaurant is open daily serving both lunch and dinner.
EZ Thai Too Restaurant, 13880 HG Trueman Rd., Solomons, MD 20688; 410-394-6858; www.ezthairestaurant.net.
Boomerang’s Original Ribs is well-known for their “fall off the bone” ribs. To eat you need to pick them up with your hands so you can get every morsel of meat off the bone. What many people don’t know is Boomerangs has great seafood. For the Taste of Solomons they featured several of the seafood items. We first tried Boomerang’s signature Cream of Crab Soup, which we learned has won many awards. Thick and creamy, filled with crab, you can taste the hint of sherry that has been added. Included was a hand-breaded jumbo shrimp, fried to perfection, served with a hushpuppy with a delicious sweet butter. I also had to have something not on the Harvest Taste of Solomons menu – Boomerang’s Mudslide. It is one of the best drinks on the Island!
Boomerangs Original Ribs, 13820 S. Solomons Island Rd., Solomons, MD; 410-326-6050; www.loveribs.com.
The Ruddy Duck is located north of the Solomons Volunteer Fire Department and shares a parking lot with the Hilton Garden Inn Solomons. This was our last stop and very close to the time the event ended, but they were still serving great food! The mini beef Tacos had a hint of sweetness with a smoky flavor. In a soft taco shell, it was filled with beef and topped with diced tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream and white cheese. The Chipas ala Carlos is a South American cheese bread made fresh daily. The owner Carlos Yanez, from Argentina, put his own touches on the recipe and they were delicious. There was one Cinnamon Apple Empanada left so we shared. Topped with cinnamon, a caramel sauce and whipped cream, it reminded you of fall evenings in your grandmother’s kitchen eating a piece of apple pie. Their featured drink was the Ruddy Duck’s Pumpkin Ale, brewed on premise, in a glass rimmed with caramel and cinnamon sugar. And who says only men drink beer!
Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill, 13200 Dowell Rd., Dowell, MD 20629; 410-394-3825;
I want to send out special thanks to my friends – Lisa Dillon, Alice London, Tammy Hunnicutt and Jill Sherman – that accompanied me. They helped with the tasting and filled the day with memories, and kept us to a strict time table so we could make it to all 17 stops!
There were also many friends I met along the way, and lots of new friends I made, and I thank them for their help with this article. One group that we seemed to follow into many of the restaurants was a group of twelve friends, who lived throughout Southern Maryland. They said they were the “Fourteen Friends” and when they realized there was only twelve, dubbed themselves as the “Dirty Dozen.” They said they have come to many of the spring “Taste of Solomons” events and this was the first time for the fall event. The group loves to try new restaurants and the Harvest Taste of Solomons was “a wonderful way to eat, drink and enjoy the company of friends.”
After a day like this, filled with delicious food and drink, and the company of friends, all I wanted to do was take a nice long nap!
Please enjoy the picture gallery below of the people and the food that was sampled.
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter