Welcome to Power Lunch. Each week we’ll review a restaurant in Annapolis or on the Eastern Shore from the perspective of nine-to-fivers getting lunch in the middle of their workday. Hence, pace and cost will be factored differently than you’d expect from a typical restaurant review, which is usually from the perspective of a dinner experience.
How we got here: Easily! Paul's Homewood Cafe is conveniently located adjacent to our offices. We've been enjoying Paul's for years, but it has been several months since we last had a bite here. For those more than a skip away, Paul's has ample parking to the rear of its West Street-side entrance. Since it was a blistering hot day, we opted to stay indoors and enjoyed a table for two in the contemporary (and recently renovated) main dining room (there are pockets of tables throughout the premises and even a new second level of seating). If it weren't so blazing, we'd have likely opted for one of the outdoor patio tables overlooking bustling West Street. On to the meal.
The much anticipated opening of Brique in Centreville (formerly Julia's) did not dissapoint. With what can only be described as a great success, Brique has matched the hype that has surrounded its opening...and then some. As a frequent patron of Julia's, I walked into Brique and wasn't sure what to expect in terms of decor, but the new owners, Billy Fairbanks and Tommy Inzer, stayed true to the building's historical charm--highlighting the original brick wall, and painting the opposite walls a nice off white color (to match the table cloths, napkins, and leather chairs), with the trim and parts of the ceiling accented with a muted royal blue color. Our waitress, Bridgette greeted us with a friendly smile and offered to help us pair our dinner with an appropriate wine selection.
How we got here: Waterman's Tavern has been open for about one year at their Edgewater location, which is a 15 minute clip from Annapolis. We breezed over the South River Bridge on a sunny day and the views of the vast river put us in a waterman's state of mind. Off Route 2, you jut east on Mayo Road and the tavern is about 2 miles upward on the corner of Mayo and Ridgeville Rds. Take note: it's very easy to whiz right by it; much easier to look for Londontown Wine & Spirits (bold blue building on the right), which is directly adjacent to Waterman's. If you hit Adam's Ribs, you've driven a touch too far.
Cheeburger Cheeburger's Annapolis location (Festival Shopping Ctr) will receive a Governor's Citation today, June 24th, at 1 p.m., recognizing the business as a "model for community involvement and fund raising excellence," as stated in a press release issued earlier this week. In the first five months of 2010, Cheeburger owners Harold Aultry and Aaron Benjamin have donated more than $16K to various causes including educational fundraisers in Annapolis, March of Dimes, March for Babies, and the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. Kudos to the entire Cheeburger team on their award.
I heard the word that a new take-out sushi joint opened at the Westfield Annapolis Mall recently, in the food court space vacated by that pretty-decent-but-not-too-creative salad shop that served the freshest/healthiest food available in said food court (healthy in a food court is probable cause for it's failure). But I digress. So the new sushi spot is named Sarku Japan, which is the "is the largest and most successful Japanese Quick Service (QSR) operator in the United States, with a rapidly growing network of over 200 restaurants in 37 states," as stated on it's website. And you know what? It was actually decent, even delish. There are about nine meal options with various sashimi and sushi roll combo deals and a variety of bento boxes with chicken, fish, or beef at their core. Overall, my experience was fast, tasty, and healthy, having ordered a simple sushi combo with four pieces of sashimi (raw tuna, salmon) and a small, six piece California roll. Throw in a lemonade and my grand total was $9. Not bad. And honestly, because the sushi is made-to-order it tastes fresh and the texture is appropriately moist and sticky; unlike sushi purchased from the cold case at the local supermarket. No, you won't get creative touches that set apart high quality sushi restaurants from the masses, but the flavor was all there and each bite was worth the money spent.
Guest blog by Editor Nadja Maril
An offer of a free lunch, was too tempting to resist so when I was scheduling a time to meet with out foodie columnist Lynn Schwartz I made the mistake of meeting her at the soft opening of Nando's Peri-Peri at Westfield Mall.
The restaurant was so noisy, I literally had to shout, and we were sitting at a small table for two. Yes, the food was delicious but perhaps until they solve their acoustic problems this is a great place to order take-out.
This week, Nando's Peri-Peri--a new Afro-Portuguese restaurant serving ridiculously delicious flame grilled chicken--is hosting soft-opening lunch seatings at their new Westfield Annapolis Mall location (located next to Chipotle and Borders) and plans to open fully to the public by month's end. Okay, so we've jumped the gun with the "ridiculously delicious" part. Truth is, we haven't actually tried their grilled chicken yet, but plan to report to you later this week. Word is, they use four levels of heat inducing/ethnic packed marinades to give their chicken distinct flavor. FYI, Nando's is extremely popular in South Africa, so you can ponder the World Cup over your first meal there. The Nando's restaurant brand is over 20 years old with hundreds of restaurants in Africa, England, Ireland, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, and the Middle East. The closest location prior to this month's Annapolis opening, is in Washington, D.C. More on Nando's Peri-Peri when we've had a chance to visit. And if you get the chance to sample the restaurant at one of their soft seatings this week, let us know your thoughts.
Amidst the onslaught of DC cliches that filled the first episode of Top Chef season seven (the filibuster-themed challenge is a guarantee somewhere along the line), there was quite a bit of pseudo-local intrigue as well. Luckily the few references to the Chesapeake region, however, don't require much context, so no worries if you're not a viewer.
Gordon Biersch invites all to the tapping of their SommerBrau on June 22 at 5:30 p.m. Their brewmaster will tap the firkin (a wooden keg), the beer shall flow forth, and summer will officially commence at the popular Annapolis Towne Centre restaurant and brewpub. Additional festivities include passed hors d'oeuvres, samples of the beer, and a silent auction (the proceeds benefit the Lymphoma Society). The event coincides with Gordon Biersch's summer menu kickoff, which will feature new items such as Island Steak Tacos, Key West Lobster & Shrimp Linguini, Churrasco Steak & Coconut Shrimp, and Montego Bay Banana Split.
For a slice of Caribbean life with German gemutlichkeit, head on over and have a cold one with great food. And be sure to let us know how your eve goes.
Premiering on Bravo at 9 p.m. tonight, season seven of Top Chef has a local appeal for area foodies this year, as it’s being held in the nation’s capital.Before you get territorial on me and point out that DC isn’t exactly local to those living in Annapolis or on the Shore, let’s be clear: it’s pretty damn close. When I was still living in Eastport, I once drove to dinner in Easton and then went back over the Bridge for a night out with friends in Adams Morgan. It was a lot of driving, sure, but the fact that it’s even possible is a testament to how close we are.