The Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show is in town this weekend,and there are reminders of summer everywhere you look. Whether you’re in town for the boat show or you have the providence to live here, you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy your post-boat show, weekend time.
The restaurant scene in Annapolis is in the midst of a very exciting time, with new restaurants opening every other month, and old favorites undergoing dramatic transformations.
On Main Street, just a block from the boat show, you will find Preserve, the newest gem in the Annapolis restaurant scene. Opened by Jeremy and Michelle Hoffman, a husband-and-wife team, both Culinary Institute of America graduates and both with impressive restaurant credentials, Preserve offers lunch and dinner with a focus on local, seasonal fare, fantastic food served in a casually fun space.
Serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. (to 9 on Sundays) with bar snacks served in between and for an hour after, Preserve has a menu that features a combo of Chesapeake and Pennsylvania Dutch, items like homemade pieorgies with sautéed onion and delectable baked oysters.
Homemade pickles and kimchi are snacks you shouldn’t miss — Preserve is more than just a name here, with jars of preserved items lining the wall, waiting to be opened and served to appreciating guests.
The Hoffmans have added a number of nice touches to the restaurant, creating a place that is both casual and classy, hip and homey. The bar, a great place for a drink or meal, offers USB and electric plugs underneath so you can charge your phone or have a working lunch if desired, with free Wi-Fi sweetening the deal.
The front windows open like garage doors, giving diners an al fresco option in good weather. The open kitchen allows you to enjoy the skill of the chef. The bar menu, with a delicious and unique selection of craft beers, local and regional wines, and delectable cocktails, keeps things interesting.
Although only open for a few weeks, Preserve is making a name for itself in the Annapolis dining and social scene and is well worth a visit this weekend.
Over in Eastport, long known as the dining capital of Annapolis, with its mix of fine and pub fare, an old favorite has been reborn and should be on your itinerary this weekend. The Chart House, known for its cream of crab soup, expansive salad bar, and waterfront location, underwent a major renovation this winter.
Although the changes from the exterior seem minimal, a step through the relocated doors will blow you away. You are greeted with a long and airy room, with sweeping views of downtown and windows everywhere. If you happen to arrive, as I did recently, during a spectacular sunset, the effect is simply stunning.
Gone is the space-dividing bathroom/too-small bar/rawbar trunk breaking up the middle of the restaurant. In its stead is a long, elegant bar which is elevated to give guests a view over the diners seated along the water. With 14 seats at the bar, as well as a high top and four banquettes, there is plenty of space for enjoying both the view and some of their great bar snacks and beverages.
The Chart House dining area has been moved forward, to give diners a chance to see what previously only those in the lounge could really appreciate — a stunning view onto the Annapolis Harbor and downtown. But it hasn’t been done at the expense of the lounge, which provides something for everyone — intimate two-tops line the windows, comfortable couches surround the copper-topped fireplaces, a mix of banquettes and tables enhance the dining experience. There also is a private dining room that seats up to 60.
The menu, always a draw, has been refocused and tightened, with old favorites keeping their place among some exciting new options. They’ve kept happy hour as well, offering a great range of drinks (from $3.25 to $7) and snacks ($4 to $7) available Sundays through Fridays from 4:30 to 6:30.
Wednesdays, always a busy evening with the framed view of the sailboat races, are now known as Share and Savor Wednesdays, when, for $40, you can enjoy a charcuterie and cheese plate along with a bottle of Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir or Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc in the lounge while you watch the boats race by.
The Chart House is definitely a local hangout, with much of the staff having a long history in the Annapolis restaurant world and the focus of the restaurant decidedly local and accommodating of neighbors and traditions. All in all, the Chart House has even more to offer these days and is definitely worth a visit, whether you’re a long-time resident or a first-time visitor.
The spring boat show is a great addition to the Annapolis scene, offering a burst of life on City Dock just when we all need to get out and about. Just as in the fall, though slightly smaller, Ego Alley and surrounding docks are filled with sailboats, both new and brokered, along with more than 100 maritime exhibitors.
This year’s show also features Cruisers University with renowned cruising experts teaching over 120 hours of elective classes, a display from MINI national, door prizes, food, drink, free sailboat rides, a high school regatta and much more.
Admission is $12 for one day, $19 for two, and free for kids 12 and under. If the fall shows overwhelm you, come check out this show — it is fun, family friendly and worth a visit.