Mid-Shore Food: Chef Erin O’Shea at Mason’s Redux

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Just like any other hiring process for a significant leadership position, the search for the right executive chef with the proper credentials is paramount to the success or failure of that dining establishment. All serious searches start with the premise that a person’s background and education that will made an indelible impression on the community and its long-term reputation.

That is why the Spy has continuously found a way to interview some of the best Mid-Shore chefs who have made the Eastern Shore their culinary home. From the past brilliance of Jordan Lloyd in Easton, Patrick Fleming’s remarkable presence in Cambridge, or Kevin McKinney’s legacy in Chestertown, we have intentionally sought to understand better these chefs unique pedigree and history.

That was why the Spy was excited to catch up with Erin O’Shea, the new executive chef at Mason’s Redux on Harrison Street in Easton. To our surprise, Erin is no stranger to the Eastern Shore having attended school in Talbot County before heading south for a brief tenure at Texas A&M University. But while college life didn’t quite fit with her ambitions, the cooking scene in Houston did, and very shortly she headed back east to pursue her passion for food and cooking.

Last week, the Spy sat down to talk to Erin and those early years of training, her mentors, and the privilege to bring Easton’s beloved Masons back alive with her own unique touch.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Mason’s Redux please go here

Mid-Shore Food Notes: Yelp Says Marlena’s in Middletown is one of the Top New Restaurants in US

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The Spy was taken by surprise this morning when it was noted that Buzzfeed used Yelp’s Top USA list to highlight that Marlena’s Mediterranean Deli in Middletown, DE. was to become a destination restaurant.  Yelp determined Marlena’s standing by using an algorithm that takes into account the number of reviews and star ratings for every new restaurant.

We are eager to hear from Spy readers if they agree with this assessment. In the meantime, you can find Marlena’s on 10 West Main Street in downtown Middletown.

Twas the Day Before Dickens: Friday and Saturday Specials at Chester River Wine & Cheese

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Twas the Day Before Dickens…

…and all through the town, the creatures are stirring, and merry is the sound. Join us Saturday from 11-2 for a Ploughman’s Lunch in the garden entrance behind Chester River Wine & Cheese along Cannon St. We’re excited to partner with Chestertown’s well-loved award-winning restaurant, Luisa’s.

Warm up with us before strolling the shops and fun along High St. We’re serving a traditional farmer’s lunch of English Cheddar, Wensleydale, pickles, bread, and meat.  Luisa’s has prepared a ham and navy bean soup to warm your belly. As you eat you’ll be treated to the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages as they leave from our neighbors at Cross St. Realtors. The full lunch is priced at $12 (including tax and beverage).

During the Ploughman’s Lunch, we’re also hosting our Saturday morning wine tasting.  In addition to our wines, we’re also serving a house made Lemonade and Lockbriar Farm’s Apple Cider. Wines we’re sampling include:

  • Clara C Prosecco Brut – Fresh, delicate, balanced on the palate and light in alcohol with a long fruity finish. Perfect as an aperitif, ideal with fish, it goes extremely well with hors-d’oeuvres and light first courses.
  • Les Trois Couronne Cotes du Rhone – Another nice wine from a terrific vintage.  A round wine with aromas of black fruits, spices, and licorice. This is a full-bodied wine with rounded elegant tannins and a long finish with notes of fruits and spices.
  • JH Andresen White Port – Highly aromatic and complex, blending notes of dried apricot, pound cake, hazelnut, but with a freshness and vivacity. That freshness continues on the palate, with a beautiful acidity and creaminess, resulting in a stylish and distinctive wine.

Join us for First Friday this evening. We’re offering a half-case special on our wines and 15% off select bottles. In Welcome Home we’re offering 10% off plush bathrobes by Pine Cone Hill.

 

Mid-Shore Food: Piazza Grows at Talbottown

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After nine years, Emily Chandler’s Piazza Italian Market had more customers than space. Sliding just a 100 yards around from their original location, Piazza opened their new expanded market with a brand new interior. The fine foods and friendly, helpful staff are the same. But, there is more room to look around and a nice section for dining.

While actually making sandwiches, Emily took time to visit with one of our spies about the new location….

Mid-Shore Food: Sakura on Route 50

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While technically Route 50 in Easton does not have formal sidewalks, this has not stopped the Spy from reporting that the third (that’s correct, the third) sushi restaurant has officially opened on the west side of the Ocean Gateway.

It must say a lot about the consumer demand for raw fish and rice that a town of 16,000 people, in a rural region, can still attract this kind of saturation on a small market. But in the case of Sakura, it does not hurt that a good percentage of the entire state of Maryland will pass their doors every summer.

The fact that this parade of sushi-starved beachgoers will not happen for another eight months can only be a good thing as Sakura, who, like any new restaurant, must work out some start-up hiccups in the kitchen before the masses arrive and judge.

 

What one can and does give Sakura great credit right off the bat is how one takes a deserted Sonic fast-food stand and turn it into such an attractive dining experience. A very nice job indeed.

Sakura Sushi 410-690-4773 8475 Ocean Gateway Easton, MD 21601

 

Mid-Shore Food: Spy Agent Report on Mason’s – Redux 2017

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Many new restaurants step up slowly to full menus and a packed house after opening their doors. But in Easton, Mason’s – Redux 2017 has elected to go from zero to sixty in a day. Courageous, and only possible with owners who pay attention to every detail along with a chef who brings restaurant experience and seriously capable culinary skills to the new enterprise.

Our party of three ventured out during the first week to give this long-anticipated dining location a try. While we went with expectations firmly in check given its still early days, we were delighted well beyond what a first-week experience would typically provide.

As you step off the brick sidewalk at 22 South Harrison Street, you notice the freshly painted building now gray. Entry occurs by moving through the velvet curtain – there to keep the cold outside. One immediately notices the tastefully elegant white tablecloth dining rooms as both appealing and inviting.

The young hostesses greet guests with efficient friendliness. Coats are taken without the use of those paper number things that always get lost. (They keep track of your jacket by your name.)

We were seated, offered water and beverages. The glasses of wine were selected from an attractive list of choices.

One can’t help but settle back and enjoy the environment while reviewing the menu. Our selections were made from an imaginative menu where seafood, pork, lamb, and beef are among the choices along with an attractive vegetable dish.

Our first courses consisted of roasted beets that included whipped feta, orange vinaigrette, and pistachios. Bibb lettuce salad topped with grapefruit, avocado, Bulgarian feta and poppy seed vinaigrette. Finally, the third member of our party enjoyed turnip cauliflower soup with cracked hazelnut and olive oil.

These offerings provided a delicious beginning to a dining experience we continued to enjoy.

We moved smoothly from our first course to our main course with the young wait staff removing and delivering plates to the table. The staff is friendly and comfortable in the new setting. Seasoning will come fast, and more senior members of the team are ever present ensuring that guests are fully satisfied.

Our entrees demonstrated the experience of chef Erin O’Shea. One of our party selected halibut that was perfectly prepared. Two of us enjoyed the lamb shank which remained moist and tasty as it fell off the bone.

We finished our fine meal by sharing the rice pudding topped with bourbon currants. This proved a soft-textured and sweet completion to our meal that was finished off with an excellent cup of coffee.

We fully enjoyed our evening. The owners were present and seriously reviewing their domain while warmly greeting friends and diners throughout the restaurant where every seat was taken. Our experience was relaxed and never rushed and came to a comfortable conclusion after two hours. The fare before gratuity was around $200 for our three courses and excellent wine by the glass.

As we departed, the opportunity to visit with one of the owners brought a series of thoughtful questions to make sure we enjoyed our experience. Relaxed fine dining is their stated objective, and that was certainly provided to us with a restaurant that seems positioned to do well in our community.