Annapolis is postcard-perfect during the holidays. The towering Christmas tree at the City Dock impresses; storefronts sparkle along Main Street, West Street and Maryland Avenue; and seasonal events like Midnight Madness bring throngs of merry-makers to the downtown area to greet friends and strangers and browse our many specialty shops. And of course, in the midst of all the holiday cheer, there’s fantastic dining. This month, we continue on our tour of West Street’s Restaurant Row, moving to the second block of what is known as the city’s newly-christened Arts District.
Level Small Plates Lounge, 69 West St., 410-268-0003. Try this unique little gem for a variety of tastes and different drinks. Locally sourced and skillfully prepared treats like seared scallops sauced with bacon hollandaise; lamb Bolognese over pappardelle; pork spring rolls. It’s a happy place, open daily from 5 pm.
Chesapeake Brewing Co., 114 West St., 410-268-0000. Located in a one-time firehouse next to the Loews Hotel, this former wine bar recently switched its identity from grapes to hops. Convenient for a boutique beer or pub food, its casual atmosphere matches the service. Open 11:15 am-midnight.
Baroak, Annapolis Loews Hotel, 126 West St., 410-295-3225. Baroak is independently owned by Teddy Folkman, a rock star on the D.C. restaurant circuit. Mussels are fresh, big, and sauced as you want them – served with frites and panache by a savvy staff. Open daily from 7 am for breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge, 169 West St., 280-5160. Looking for hip? Here you have it at a place so multi-faceted it defies definition – though “farm-to-table” is a mantra. Among the choices for brunch we cheer for homemade biscuits, chicken and gravy; for lunch, three -bean chili or Moroccan lamb burger; for dinner, small plates or full-on pistachio-encrusted brick chicken and so much more. Music nightly. Hours vary, but open daily by 11 am.
Lemongrass, 167 West St., 410-280-0086. The buzz continues around our town’s first (and wildly popular) Thai restaurant, situated in a charming little house where patrons sit on stools to sample variations on the ethnic theme. You’ll find traditional dishes as well as crisp duck, crab and salmon on the menu and a wide selection of vegetarian options.
India’s, 257 West St., 410-263-7900. An authentic northern Indian menu and a sumptuous lunchtime buffet make this charming establishment a popular place to sample healthy cuisine. Owner Surceh Kumar and his wife have survived a fire and the vagaries of public tests to make theirs one of the town’s most romantic and reliable establishments. Open daily for lunch 11:30 am-2:30 pm, dinner from 5 pm.
Miss Shirley’s Café, 1 Park Place, 410-268-517. Look for long lines on weekends as folks flock to this down-home Southern-style eatery where breakfast is a big attraction. It’s a pricey place with its own brand of charm and is popular with family groups. Check out the imaginative “Good Morning Cocktails” and order Shirley Temples for the kids. Open daily 7 am-3 pm.
Fado Irish Pub, 1 Park Place, 410-626-0069. Perch on a stool and go Celtic at this friendly bar specializing in spirits and simple fare. You’re apt to meet friendly folk having a pint or enjoying the chef’s special lamb au jus on a crusty roll, a small plate of fish and chips, fish tacos or a good Reuben. Good place for breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekday and Sunday happy hours. The restaurant has three levels, including a roof top patio and spacious verandah. Open 11:30 am-midnight Mon, ’till 2 am Tues-Fri, 10 am-2 pm.
Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen & Wine Bar, 1 Park Place, 268-6569. Meals here begin with a basket of pizza-like breads as you ponder a lengthy menu covering the tastes of Tuscany. Pastas are popular as are veal, chicken, beef and seafood dishes, all carefully prepared. Despite its sophisticated décor and spaciousness, there is a homey ambience thanks to a well-trained staff. Check out the well-stocked wine bar. Open daily 11 am-10 pm, except Sat 11 am-11 pm.