For many life-long Baltimoreans, summer is synonymous with ‘goin’ downy oshun.’ So as part of this summer column, I’m givin’ props to the chefs and restaurateurs who are turning the historic town of Cambridge into a serious culinary destination. Next time you’re heading to Ocean City, Rehoboth or anywhere east of Easton, make a quick right off of Route 50 and detour to Dorchester County’s seat. Grab a bar stool and a bite and you’ll quickly discover why this small town is earning a reputation among foodies from “Merlin.” (That’s Bawlmer-speak for Maryland Hon) While you’d expect to find great crab cakes, oysters and rockfish – and you certainly can at such local favorites as Jimmies & Sooks, Portside, Snappers Waterfront Café and Ocean Odyssey – Cambridge is also home to a classic French restaurant, a gastropub, a vegetarian juice bar, brewery, wine bar, and artisanal bakery. The following are a few of my faves that have opened in the past few years.
The supremely talented and dashing Chef Patrick Fanning has opened three culinary hot spots. (A fourth charcuterie – Nose 2 Tail – will open soon.) High Spot GastroPub: Located on historic High Street, High Spot serves classic pub fare with an emphasis on local ingredients and seafood. Menu favorites include buffalo oysters, build-your-own burgers, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and bison tacos. www.thehighspotgastropub.com
Stoked: A wood-fired eatery on Cambridge’s Muir Street features contemporary Italian cuisine with fresh selections of local oysters, cheeses, charcuterie and veggies served on artisanal pizza, pasta and sandwiches. Innovative cocktails, and over 60 wines and regional beers on tap. www.stokedwoodfiredeatery.com
Squoze: A vegetarian juice and smoothie bar where you can mix your own healthy drinks from ingredients that include beets, kale, carrots, mango, pineapple and pomegranate and herbs. Healthy salads, wraps and soups for to dine in or carry out. www.facebook.com/squozeahealthycarryout
Bistro Poplar: Check out Chef Ian Campbell’s classic French fare in a traditional bistro. Chef Campbell is a Dorchester native who trained with Cindy Wolf in Baltimore and joined the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in California before returning to open Bistro Poplar in 2008. www.bistropoplar.com
RAR Brewing: Two Cambridge natives came home to open this brewery in 2013. RAR’s Nanticoke Nectar Pale Ale and Bucktown Brown Ale are on tap along with a half dozen micro brews from elsewhere in Delmarva and the region. RAR features a full sushi menu, weekend brunch and live music most nights. www.realerevival.com
A Few of My Favorite Things: Wine bar and gift shop featuring a half dozen wines on tap and wide selection of bottles, chocolates, 15 cheeses, grilled sandwiches and more. www.facebook.com/chocolate.cheese.wine
For more info on great restaurants and events go to visitdorchester.org
Kielbasa, Pirogues and Polka—OH MY! The Maryland Polish Festival is set for Saturday, July 19 and 20 at the Exhibition Hall at Timonium Fairgrounds. www.pcamaryland.org
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Morton’s The Steakhouse has partnered with Sbragia Family Vineyards to offer a special pairing menu along with a 35th Anniversary vintage wine called Sbragia, “State & Rush” Merlot, 2012. From June 30 through July 6, guests can enjoy the special menu for only $35. Mortons.com
The Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Bailliage des Baltimore, the Baltimore chapter of the world’s oldest international gastronomic society, and the Lord Baltimore Hotel will host a culinary celebration on Sunday, July 13 in honor of Bastille Day. To commemorate the start of the French Revolution, which is celebrated annually on July 14, guests will enjoy cocktails on the hotel’s rooftop patio followed by a five-course French dinner prepared by Executive Chef Michael Carstens, in the hotel’s signature restaurant, French Kitchen. LordBaltimoreHotel.com
Entertainment Cruises, based in Chicago, has partnered with Food Network’s “Chopped” champion, Eric LeVine to develop and launch new lunch and dinner menus for its Spirit Brand, including the Spirit of Baltimore and Inner Harbor Spirit. The buffet-style menus will include dishes that are freshly prepared onboard and appealing to a range of tastes, including those with dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten, etc.). www.entertainmentcruises.com
The 4th Annual Annapolis Irish Festival is set for July 11 and 12 at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds in Crownsville, Md. AnnapolisIrishFestival.com
CONGRATS: Kathy and Neal Patterson are the authors of the new Baltimore Chef’s Table cookbook. With more than eighty recipes for the home cook from over fifty of the city’s most celebrated eateries and photos featuring mouth-watering dishes, famous chefs, and lots of local flavor. They feature some of my all time fave restaurants including: Clementine (I love me some Winston Blick), Jack’s Bistro, Nancy Longo’s Pierpoint, Stewart Dearie’s Baldwin’s Station, Langermann’s, Café Gia and Steve Wecker’s Iron Bridge Wine Company. Congrats on a beautiful book Kathy and Neal.