Dec 19, 2014 09:00AM
● By Cate Reynolds
Broadneck Grill and Cantina
Edgewater Village Center
74 Central Avenue West, Edgewater
410-956-3366 • broadneckgrill.com
After driving by the Edgewater Broadneck Grill and Cantina many times on my way to Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, I had the opportunity to meet a friend there for a mid-week dinner. Entering through a rich low level lit bar/dining area, our attention was taken by a large boldly colored chalk board highlighted by the drawing of a vibrant Flamenco dancer, which held happy hour specials...and a generous happy hour it is!
Two long, raised family-style tables, as well as raised round “four tops” gave full view of the televisions for sports viewing. By 7:30 p.m., the place was bustling with what looked to be local diners. The original Broadneck Grill is like the “Cheers” of Cape St. Claire, where regulars are usually greeted by name and where everyone is entertained, especially the little guys, with crayons and coloring paper provided. As we scanned the warm, mustard-colored walls, my eyes fell on a horizontal window at eye level right through to the adjoining smaller dining room. This turned out to be a “see through” gas fireplace, which adds atmosphere to both rooms—together, they seat close to 100. The cozy friendliness of the bar and combo dining room had a gravitational pull on folks walking through the door.
The original Broadneck Grill and Cantina, nestled in Cape St. Claire, has now expanded with a second location in Edgewater. The word Cantina bespeaks accurately of south-of-the-border- cuisine—almost 90 percent of the menu. But you will find a few nods to Italian pasta dishes and some old Maryland favorites. Specials, specials, and even more special events keep the place crowded while off-premise catering maintains a busy kitchen. Of course, support for our local sports teams motivates many of the evening and weekend parties, while one may find a wine pairing dinner as a special fundraiser.
Wondering where the Mexican influence started, I contacted Donna Duran, owner of both restaurant locations. Donna enthusiastically explained that close to 20 years ago, she and her husband at the time, looked at pockets of cuisine missing in the Annapolis area and felt the cuisine from his Mexican and Latin American heritage would be a hit. They also realized that their cooks hailed from far south and could help in highlighting specials from their home countries—such as Mexican Pozole for the winter holidays of Christmas and New Year’s Day or Chamorro, a lamb shank with adobo sauce. Close to six trips a year to Mexico laid the path for regional Mexican specialties for the Cantina. The Cape St. Claire location had been rolling successfully for nearly 18 years when Donna was approached by a commercial realtor asking if she had interest in opening a second location of her popular neighborhood spot further south in Edgewater. After a year of planning and permits, the new location opened in June 2014.
On to our experience. Whetting the appetite was a juicy red wine sangria (there was also a seasonal Apple Sangria) from a large drink menu loaded with multiple mixed drinks, a good selection of quality beers, and a wine list, of course.
Craving the standard corn tortillas and Mexican spices, we ordered the Broadneck Sampler ($9.99) to get an overview. A large plate of Mexi-style comfort food was delivered, sporting beef nachos, four quarters of cheese quesadillas, and chicken-stuffed jalapeños, served with sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo. The very spicy jalapenos harbored a tasty shredded chicken center, then a fried coating which stayed light and crisp.
Back to the Chesapeake we traveled with a cup of Cream of Crab Soup. The base was abundant with lumps of crab that we were told came from no further away than North Carolina. Steak Fajitas ($15.99) continued the “foods of the sun” and arrived sizzling on a mucho hot platter of tender steak strips, sharing space with sautéed onion and bell pepper. The second plate of the fajita ensemble was a lineup of Spanish rice, black beans, guacamole, and sour cream. Hot flour tortillas completed the dish in their own tortilla warmer.
Two large, broiled, golden crab cakes impressed and are highly favored in the Crab Cake Platter ($24.99). Verdant green beans and roasted potatoes accompany the cakes of the sea. We shared one of the very popular finishes...Polar Bear Cake. This dessert plate overflowed with three fluffy white cake layers sandwiching a filling of white buttercream merged with a hint rich lemon curd. Sprightly coconut flakes wrapped the buttercream. Magothy Mud Pie is a second favorite, named after our local river, which is imbued with the decadence of crushed Oreo cookies crust, caramel, coffee ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. The sensational Tres Leches, the traditional Mexican dessert of a vanilla cake soaked in three types of milk, is also tops for dessert.
By the way, some of Broadneck’s head chefs have been with the restaurant for close to twenty years, which is quite unique in the food world. Donna’s appreciation of her employees is clear when she discusses her restaurants and the consistency of the same menu in both locations. She also has listened to her customers and retained the same menu for both locations given the proven success in its Cape St. Claire tested run. The entire menu is re-evaluated annually where new specials are offered before they find a permanent home on the menu. Highlighting local businesses is also part of her attitude to help those who help you. Both Edgewater and Cape St. Claire locations take part in civic events and fundraisers, which exemplifies the ambiance of a friendly neighborly “watering hole”!
Rita Calvert has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration, art, and nourishment of food and is Homestead Gardens’ Culinary and Design blogger, photographer, and advisor. Although she once owned a successful restaurant in California, she has been a resident of Annapolis for 25 years where she is a strong advocate for local, sustainable, and nourishing food. Her work has always embodied the naturally wholesome, colorful, and satisfying.