Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weekend Update

I'll do anything to put off facing that stack of bills needing payment that have been sitting on my desk for about a week. 

Wasn't it a beautiful weekend?  Here's the view from our lawn chairs on Sunday:

We spent most of Sunday afternoon just sitting on the patio reading trashy novels.  We are allowed to do that, after working our typical 70 hour week.  We just ignore the weeds in the garden.  Easy peasy.

Dinner on Sunday night was planned out.  We had heard that Schaefer's Canal House - another family favorite from my childhood - had reopened after being closed for several years.  Our plan for Sunday night was to drive up to Chesapeake City for a drink at Schaefer's bar, and then travel cross county for dinner at a place we'd heard about in Odessa - Cantwell's Tavern

Schaefer's looks exactly as it did when last we were there.  Bar is the same, dining room is the same.  They have tables outside - both on the deck overlooking the pier and on the pier itself.  When we got there - around 5:30 - there was a very loud band playing on the pier, which I can imagine is a very popular venue in the summer.  We headed indoors.  

It probably would have been better to stay outside.  The AC vents at the bar were open full blast and it was freezing.  We watched another couple try seat after seat, until finally the bartender questioned their motives and they admitted they were trying to find a stool that wasn't under one of the vents!  We were in perfect agreement.  And the other negative was the bartender!  She was "new" - two days new - and seemed to be self-training.  Every single solitary thing that she was learning, she felt obligated to shout it across the bar to the other bartender.  The only time she wasn't loudly discussing her current activities was when she was whispering to other servers who approached the bar for orders.  We must have heard twelve times that it was her second day.  And that she worked another job Monday through Thursday. I have never been so annoyed by a bartender's behavior as I was by this one.  Do we really need to hear all of that "back of the house" conversation when we are trying to relax at the bar?  No.  Hopefully she won't last long.  One good thing about that part of our evening was the huge barge that went floating by, pushed by a tugboat down the canal.  That was a cool sight, and one I remember from long ago visits to the classic dining room.

We did have a little snack too - an avocado/crab/mango stack.  We knew that Bruce Wetterau, recently of the Kitty Knight House, but famous for his time at the Granary, was the Chef at Schaefer's, and the appetizer we shared was classic Bruce, from the presentation to the pea shoots.  It was very good - light and fresh tasting, although the crab was reminiscent of the pasteurized version.  At least we knew the food - and the view - would bring us back, if not the bartender.

The drive to Cantwell's from there was pleasantly through back roads and McMansion developments, with a brief stop to let the Ruby sniff around a bit.  We already knew that the chef at this newish spot did not use fresh Maryland crabmeat, but we figured there was plenty else on the menu to entice us. 

Once again, it was the service, not the food, that disappointed.  First of all, the bartenders at Cantwell's were from the same school as the woman we had just left - spending more time discussing the issues they were experiencing during their evening shift than they were focusing on their customers.  I don't really want to hear excuses as to why a Bombay Martini was made with Dewar's, I just want to see them correct the drink quickly and not worry about who's fault it was!

We moved to the dining room.  It's an interesting space - the downstairs room we were seated in - with calm gray walls, wooden banquettes and simple settings.  The server approached our table with the redundant "Hello I'm Bill, I'll be taking care of you tonight".  Well that's good, because we didn't come here to take care of ourselves.   His other failing was sort of not his fault, but a factor in his training.  When I asked him for a little more information about a wine, he was quick to tell me that he was only 19, he didn't know anything about the wine.  My retort was brief - well, that's no excuse if you are serving it.  

The food was okay.  Kevin started with the salmagundi, which was a generous plate of cured meats, cheese and salads.  The prosciutto was probably the best thing on the platter.  The deviled eggs were the worst - actually they were inedible - with the sausage being a bit bland for andouille.  Still, it was an attractive dish and a nice starter to share.   I had a Caesar salad, which was a fine version. 

Main courses saw Kevin digging into the sausage sandwich, which he thoroughly enjoyed.  I was in the mood for one of my go-to options, the fish and chips.  The fried fish was okay, although the fries were not very good.  I cannot say we'd rush back to Cantwell's - it just wasn't that promising - but if we were passing by in a state of hunger, then we might give it another shot.  One meal is not enough to rule it out.  

Schaefer's however, we returned to the next day.  We were traveling up to Milburn's for apples, and our mid-day meal was on the agenda.  We decided lunch on the terrace at Schaefer's would be just the ticket, and it was.  The deck was sparkling and at 11:30, deserted.  We ordered the cream of crab soup, followed by the duck confit quesadilla for me and the blackened mahi sandwich for Kevin.  Both were worthy.  The soup was very good, a bit of sherry and plenty of crab, and not too thick.  My quesadilla, which sounded a little odd with it's combination of fig, duck and cheddar cheese, was tasty, especially the inclusion of fig.  And Kevin's sandwich was all he'd hoped for, although he decided too late that some tartar sauce would be a welcome addition.  I can envision sitting out on that terrace on a balmy summer night, enjoying the view of the bridge and being waited on by someone who didn't let me know more than I wanted to hear.  It could be quite pleasant and we look forward to doing just that when summer rolls around again.

The second floor dining room with it's deck/terrace is above the waterside pier.  No ships came by on our Monday trip, but when they do, it makes for quite an arresting back drop.  Welcome back, Schaefer's, we look forward to our next visit.

Okay, now, on to those bills...

1 comment:

  1. Do you ever feel like life cycles around? Some of us also remember Schafer's from waaaaaaaaaay back; along with The Rigbie and the {old} Granary, Schafer's was a Sunday family outing.

    We are all going to miss Val.