Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sundays 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
While opening dates remain far from confirmed, it is quite likely that over the next 18 months Chestertown will have four new restaurants in its historic district to call its own. After a few years of suffering the loss of several popular dining venues, including the beloved Brooks Tavern, Blue Heron, and the Lemon Leaf, a culinary renaissance is starting to take place.
The very first of this new wave will begin with the opening this spring of 98 Cannon Street, former home of the Fish Whistle and the Old Wharf restaurant, located at the town’s new marina.
As one might imagine, the Spy was beyond curious to this extraordinary explosion in culinary options. So much so that we tracked down the new owner 98 Cannon Street to understand what he and his team have planned for this iconic site on the banks of the Chester.
A financial advisor by profession, with a successful firm based in the Philadelphia area, Joe Elliott and his wife made the very deliberate decision to find a more rural environment for the couple and their three young daughters to gather on weekends. That’s what led him to Kent County a few years ago, but there was no desire to have any commercial interest in the town at all.
That started to change as Joe began to fall in love with his family’s new hometown. Going against a lifetime bias against owning businesses like restaurants, including his consistent advice to his clients to stay far away from these “opportunities,” Joe started to see a waterfront dining establishment as a personal challenge rather than a return on investment.
We caught up with Joe a few weeks ago at the Spy HQ to learn more.
This video is approximately four minutes in length. The new 98 Cannon Street design work is being done by M3 Architecture of Rock Hall
Germaine Lanaux celebrated the grand opening of Germaine’s, a carryout with a New Orleans twist, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and serving complimentary beans and rice and corn muffins on Friday, June 15.
Germaine grew up in New Orleans, daughter of a Creole native and Baltimore transplant. She spent her childhood and youth moving between in the French Quarter of New Orleans and her father’s Tongue Oil orchard, all the time exposed to the fascinating cuisine of the Bayou and Bourbon Street.
Germaine’s is open Monday-Friday, 10-6, and serves carryout lunches and dinners from a menu that runs from her renowned gumbo to crepes.
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.
Have you been to the Monday Community Dinner at First United Methodist Church in Chestertown? You’re invited. You’re missing a real treat if you haven’t been yet. The food is quite good. It’s all fresh and prepared that afternoon by community volunteers. And it’s free, yes, that’s right, free – though donations are accepted.
The church is the big red brick one on the hill with white trim and columns and a tall steeple. There’s lots of convenient parking on Park, Mill, or Calvert Streets. Use the side entrance to the church and come down the stairs to the basement. Tables will be already setup with napkins and silverware. They use real plates and utensils – no paper unless you request one of the take-out boxes, which are recyclable. Dinner is served starting at 5:30. Reservations are not needed but we recommend you get there by at least 6 p.m. to avoid having any of your favorite items run out.
Begun by the Rev. David Ryan in September 2016, the Monday dinners regularly serve between 75 and 100 community members, most of them regulars. The cafeteria-style meals feature a generous choice of main courses, desserts, and beverages. There is a dinner every Monday, even if it’s a holiday, Ryan said.
Voluntary donations help support the meal, which Ryan estimates costs $2 to $3 a serving. Even many of the low-income diners chip in a dollar or two, while others sometimes donate as much as they’d pay in a restaurant. And the “customers” represent all ages and income levels. Ryan said the donations jar typically yields $75-150 toward the cost of the meal.
Much of the food is donated to the church from local farms and gardens, restaurants, and grocery stores. The first time we went, J.R.’s Lemon Leaf Café provided mashed potatoes while some of the vegetables came from the Kent County Middle School garden, and Redman Farms had donated 150 ears of corn on the cob.
The corn, by the way, was “cooler corn.” We had seen coolers full of corn at picnics and reunions before but had never realized it had a recipe. We just thought that corn was cooked in the regular way on the stove then put in the cooler. But no, it turns out you cook the corn right in the cooler! Who knew? You just fill a clean hard-sided cooler (no styrofoam, please) with corn. Pour in boiling water. Close the cooler. Load it in the car. By the time you get to the party, the corn is ready. And the cooler will keep it warm for hours. A quick Google search will reveal lots of recipes, reviews, and discussions of cooler corn. Ours was delicious!
During the school year, the Washington College dining hall donates surplus food. Restaurants and schools often donate food that was prepared but not served. In most cases, the food would have been thrown out if not for the church dinner. College students also help with the preparation and serving when classes are in session. Emmanuel Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown also help with preparation, especially when Pastor Ryan is out of town. Other volunteers set tables, work the cafeteria-style serving line, wash dishes, and make sure everything runs smoothly. All were clearly having a good time.
Preparation begins early in the afternoon, around 1:00 pm when Pastor Ryan and parishioner Cheryl Hoopes arrive. They begin the prep and setup, see what is in the pantry and do all the other things included in planning and preparing a dinner for a hundred people. Ryan joins in the cooking. Cheryl Hoopes, who coordinates volunteers, said that Ryan’s previous parish also had a regular dinner, but the church women wouldn’t allow him to help with the cooking. One of the reasons he started one in Chestertown was so he could get in the kitchen! And he’s a good cook. Just ask his wife!
Recent menus have included roast pork, stuffed peppers, corn on the cob, sauerkraut, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, applesauce, with a selection of cookies, cupcakes, and pies for dessert. Beverages included water and iced tea.
There is a long dessert table each week. And next to the dessert table is the take-home table with bread and vegetables and other items that anyone may pick up as you leave. Some are from people’s gardens; others are items near their expiration dates donated by groceries or bakeries. If you prefer, you can get your meal in a recyclable take away box. The recyclable boxes, Ryan said, are a little more expensive than the more common styrofoam boxes, but he felt that being environmentally responsible was more important than saving a few cents. Only a few people opt to just get a takeaway box and leave right away. Some eat at the church then fill up a box for a family member at home.
While many people sit with friends or family members — there are three- and four-generation families who come regularly — it’s also a good place to make new acquaintances. One volunteer brings his four grandchildren – all under the age of 10 – and the kids help on the clean-up crew. Ryan said the dinner has been an opportunity to meet many people who aren’t members of his congregation, including many from the immediate neighborhood of the church. Now many of them stop and talk to him on the street.
Come and join in. Any Monday at 5:30 pm. Perhaps you’ll become a regular or a volunteer, too. Tell ’em the Spy sent you!
Photos by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell
Editor’s Note: The Spy is pleased to continue our special food coverage by partnering with Sprout’s Kitchen on a series of educational programs related to food and the special backstories of their ingredients and partnership with local producers. Sprouts’ owners, Emily and Ryan Groll, the two entrepreneurs behind the Mid-Shore’s innovative food delivery service using locally sourced products, have strong opinions and experience in what makes food so special.
First up for Sprout’s Kitchen when they started a year ago was finding the right milk guy. For most culinary enterprises the need to purchase milk is simply a matter of checking off how many gallons they need on their food distributors order forms. In most cases, they have no idea where that milk comes from, what the conditions of of dairy farm is or how well the animals are treated.
That was not good enough for Sprout’s Kitchen. Owners Emily and Ryan Groll, had made it part of their mission to find and develop a long-term relationship with a local farm who shared their high standards for their milk, yogurt and butter. That’s when Nice Farms Creamery came into the picture.
Located a few miles from Federalsburg, Nice Farms is now on its third generation of family farmers who have bred their 40 dairy cows specifically for grazing. maintain annual and perennial pastures, supplementing the cows diet with quality hay, hydroponic fodder, and almost zero grain.
This video is approximately two minutes in length. For information about the Sprout’s Kitchen and their meal plans please go here.
Taste of the Town celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 7. From noon to 3:00 pm, Fountain Park was filled with guests enjoying samples from 18 local vendors. There were food and drinks from an even dozen restaurants plus four wineries and one brewery. This is the first year that the vineyards and brewery participated – a welcome addition to a popular Chestertown tradition.
Co-chairs Tara Holste and Andy Goddard did a great job organizing the event. About 250 people from all over the region filled the tent in Fountain Park. The tent even had a large sunlight section in its roof. Attendees voted for their favorites in three categories:
Attendees voted for their favorites in three categories: Most Creative – Best Use of Local Ingredients – Most Flavorful. Ballots are currently being tabulated. So stay tuned for the results of these People’s Choice awards.
The Whistle Stop Winery was one of five wineries at the event. Also present were the Clovelly Vineyards, Crow Vineyard & Winery, Dove Valley Winery, and Olney Winery. Beer lovers got to sample the wares from the Bull and Goat Brewery.
Participating restaurants were Barbara’s On the Bay, Chester River Yacht & Country Club, Evergrain Bakery, Figg’s Ordinary, Fish Whistle, The Kitchen at the Imperial, Lemon Leaf Cafe, Little Village Bakery, Lockbriar Farms, Luisa’s Cucina Italiana, O’Connor’s Irish Pub and Procollino’s Italian Eatery. Serving wines were Clovelly Vineyards, Crow Vineyard & Winery, Dove Valley Winery, Olney Winery and Whistle Stop Winery. Beer drinkers could sample the products of Bull & Goat Brewery.
There were over 20 raffle prizes that covered a wide range of items, including gift certificates to many restaurants and local stores, two tickets to any Garfield Center for the Arts production, a hanging basket from Unity Church Hill Nursery, and a jar of goodies from Gabriel’s of Chestertown.
Taste of the Town is presented by the Downtown Chestertown Association with the help of many volunteers and generous sponsors. Tech support was provided by Butch Clark. For more information see Taste of Chestertown, Downtown Chestertown Association (DCA), Chestertown.com.
There is something rather extraordinary about a small town ice cream parlor. It inevitably strikes a nerve of memory and nostalgia for many Americans as they recall their families special trips in the early evening of summer to the local stand on Main Street.
And one of those very special places is Justine’s Ice Cream Parlour in St. Michaels.
Known for having the longest lines in town during the summer months, including those eager to visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Justine’s over the last 30 years has become on those iconic snapshots of life on the Eastern Shore.
But behind the counter is another great American story of young entrepreneurs taking the concept of the summer ice cream place to an entirely different level. And that was the motivation behind the Spy’s recent interview with ice cream maker Tyler Heim,who, along with his brother, Jared, has been managing Justine’s for the store’s owner (and aunt) Kathleen Lash over the last few years.
When we talked to Tyler last week in the store last week, Tyler gave us an excellent overview of the world of local ice cream, the art of milkshake making, and plans to scale up the Justine brand in the years ahead.
This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on Justine’s please go here. Maryland 3.0 is an ongoing Spy series on entrepreneurship on the Mid-Shore.
There seems to be a good bit of nostalgia about the traditional family farm on the Eastern Shore as of late. Going back centuries, the idea of a self-sufficient, agricultural enterprise that’s focused on locally grown produce has had a minor renaissance as consumers continue to seek out healthy alternatives to commercial grown “fresh” fruit and vegetable sections.
That’s the good news. The not so good news is that in order for those local farmers to be competitive they are increasingly asked to certify their agricultural practices in order to qualify in the wholesale and retail markets.
This is not an easy undertaking. And that is why the work of the Chesapeake Harvest project formed by the Easton Economic Development Corporation is so critical to this important transition.
With the help of a federal grant, Chesapeake Harvest has made it its goal to work with 30 of these family farmers over the next three years to prepare them for USDA gap certification, the most common and well respected endorsement, while at the same time branding and marketing the notion of being “Bay-friendly” through the adoption of these production conservation standards.
Leading this marketing and outreach effort for Chesapeake Harvest is Deena Deese Kilmon who has not only had the invaluable background of coming from a family farm background, spent time in the wholesale food world but also owned restaurant in St. Michaels before joining the organization.
We caught up with Deena in Kent County a few weeks ago before she and her team of volunteers worked with the local farmer to do a risk assessment of that farm’s practices and make recommendations that will move that farm into a gap certified agricultural center.
This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake Harvest please go here