Bay Weekly’s Annual Dining Guide

Explore, enjoy — and taste your way to new knowledge

In the business of newspapering, learning something new is an everyday job. Thus arose the editors’ traditional prod to slacking reporters: It’s a newspaper, not an old paper. 

But even editors get stuck in ruts, so my New Year’s resolution is to get out and see the world, starting with Chesapeake Country. That’s what I told Nancy Collery, of Main Street Gallery in Prince Frederick.

Nancy and I were two of three-dozen people enjoying a bounteous and delicious potluck of dishes based on local ingredients at the January meeting of Calvert County Locavores at the Prince Frederick library. Bay Weekly co-founder Bill Lambrecht was guest speaker at the event, talking about how genetic engineers are tinkering with the building blocks of the food chain. Inspiring as Lambrecht is (I’ve got to say that; I’m his wife and editor of the book he wrote on the subject, Dinner at the New Gene Café), the big draw was the dinner.

There’s no motivator like food to teach an old dog, or editor, new tricks.

So it’s with the eager expectation of tasting new knowledge that I approach the annual issue we bring you this week, Bay Weekly’s Dining Guide.

In the Guide, our plan is to partner with a couple of dozen restaurants and caterers throughout Chesapeake Country to learn their stories and share their ideas about food. Most have shared a recipe, making the preparation of this Dining Guide very hungry work.

Who can read without salivating Jalapenos’ recipe for Lamb Chops with Cabrales Cheese, Heavenly Ribs and Chicken’s recipe for Ruben Balls, My Butcher’s recipe for Braised Rabbit with Bacon-Sage Dumplings, Luna Blu’s recipe for Penne alla Vodka, Waterman’s Tavern’s recipe for beef au jus or Pirates Coves’ recipe for Oyster Pan Roast?

Certainly nobody in this office. Writer and calendar editor Diana Beechener is already shopping for ingredients; General Manager Alex Knoll is placing his order for rabbit; and proofers Dick Wilson and Martha Lee Benz refused to read another Dining Guide unless we serve what they proof.

Be forewarned. This issue will make you hungry.

It will also fascinate you. Behind every restaurant is a human story. Family history is written in their stories, sometimes going back generations. Rod ’n’ Reel, now in its fourth generation in the Stinnett-Donovan family, celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. Sam’s on the Waterfront was founded by the grandfather of present owner Andrew Parks. 

Others are success stories of a single generation. Jalapeños — the success story of Gonzalo Fernandez and Alberto Serrano — is 12 years old and thriving in Parole. So is Brick House in Shady Side, where Pete Litchfield has built his success on the foundation of many other restaurateurs’ failed dreams. 

Many are the dreams made real of people who always wanted to own a restaurant, among them Brad Holt at Snug Harbor Inn in Shady Side; Daniel Miller of Riverbay Roadhouse Steak & Seafood Family Restaurant in Cape St. Claire.

Still others are successes born from crisis. You’ll read how Gary and Jennifer Armstrong made Heavenly Chicken & Ribs, in Dunkirk, their continuing thanks to “those who serve” after a house fire.

The newest, and most gripping, story is this week’s paper tells you how Mike and Beth Selinger are recovering from a devastating New Year’s Eve fire to rebuild The Old Stein Inn. It’s Mike’s hope that you’ll be able to taste their fine food again by late summer. 

Until then, satisfy your hunger for good food at the partners in this week’s Dining Guide — and at the three-dozen more Annapolitan restaurants joining in Annapolis Restaurant Week, February 21 through 27. 

Now it’s your turn to taste your way to new knowledge. Explore, enjoy — and remember to say, I read about you in Bay Weekly.