- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Looking for a rare opportunity to mix frugality and indulgence? Look no further than Taste of Solomons, where 15 restaurants on and near the historic island resort will offer food and drink specials for $4 each from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 23.
The culinary festival, in its 13th year, is a chance to entice customers with value and variety in the hope that they’ll make a habit of dining in the town, said Back Creek Bistro owner Richard Fitzwater, who is also Taste of Solomons chairman. The event is held in early spring because the warming weather encourages people to go out and enjoy themselves.
“We suffer a little bit during the wintertime. People tend to forget about us a little bit. This is a way to get them out of hibernation to rediscover the Solomons area and start getting that springtime, summertime feel back,” Fitzwater said.
The food and drink tickets are sold at all of the participating restaurants, and can be spent at any of them. The event is held at the various restaurants, instead of a central location, to let diners get a feel for each establishment, he said.
“We’d like to get people inside the restaurant so folks can see what the restaurant has to offer. The views: Most folks have a really wonderful view. I certainly do at Back Creek Bistro, and for people who have not been to the restaurant, I, like the others, want people to come in and say, ‘Ooh, that’s a place I’d like to come on a regular basis.’ That’s one of the reasons we do it, to get people out who are maybe new to area or have not been down to Solomons before,” Fitzwater said.
Offering haute cuisine at fast-food prices encourages adventurousness, said Debbie Woody, owner of CD Café.
“Last year was very successful, I actually think, because it’s an inexpensive day to go and get some good food. I think people do it because it is an affordable outing, not going and dropping a ton of money on dinner. See what I’m saying? Just have to spend two tickets or three tickets a thing. We might spend nine bucks and be full. It doesn’t force you to pay menu prices,” Woody said.
More than a week before the event, some restaurants still were perfecting their offerings. But at Boomerang’s Original Ribs, owner Bill Wells had already decided that a ticket will buy “a nice little plate” with a small pork barbecue sandwich, fresh-made coleslaw and a couple of ribs. He had plenty of experience to go on because the restaurant, founded in 1993, has done Taste of Solomons “for as long as it’s been going,” he said.
Offerings often lean toward seafood because of Solomons Island’s fishing heritage, Fitzwater said, but many types of cuisine will be available. Back Creek Bistro is staying true to form with lobster bisque and crab gnocchi, while CD Café will serve cream of crab soup, a taco soup, a seasonal salad and a dessert.
“Other places are having a variety of oysters, crab cakes, pork ribs, shrimp. It’s just a very wide variety of various foods that the restaurants are offering up,” Fitzwater said.
Discriminating diners should check out small Solomons establishments, where the food is made from scratch, instead of the corporate chains dominating St. Mary’s County, Wells said.
Fitzwater said he had nothing against the chains but hoped people were open to new experiences, too, enough so that they’d venture over the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge.
“We get St. Mary’s customers also. The folks over there, most of the restaurants in St. Mary’s are corporate, national chains. Not to criticize them: they’re all good and do well, but over here, we don’t have that. All the businesses here are privately owned local businesses. It gives people a chance to come out and sample that,” Fitzwater said.