Regular visitors to BCD know that BCD parents live on the eastern shore of Maryland, on Taylors Island, (see Facebook) about 18 miles west of Cambridge. Dorchester County is the largest (by area) and one of the smallest (by population) of the Maryland counties and its citizens are by and large insistent on preserving its rural and rustic nature. This extends to the cuisine. Although there are a few exceptions (Bistro Poplar and Clearview), fine dining is not the reason to come to Dorchester County. On the other hand, this area abounds in the traditional eastern shore seafood delicacies and on Taylors Island one can buy, direct from the boat, the oysters and crabs that will later make their way across the Bay in trucks. And there are many local restaurants that do justice to these treasures. But this article is not about the bounty of the sea.
“Game” in this case, refers to the land and air creatures that in years past also made the Eastern shore notable. [See Michener’s Chesapeake for a wonderful description of the game birds and man-made decline]. To get to Taylors Island, take Route 16 west out of Cambridge and eventually cross the Slaughter Creek Bridge. Just to the right is the Taylors Island Grille, run by Island resident Holli. The Grille is open most days for breakfast, lunch and dinner, although during slow seasons, hours are shorter and some days (in the middle of winter) closed altogether (call ahead). For the 300 residents of Taylors Island, and the watermen, boaters (Slaughter Creek Marina is across the bridge), hunters, and nature buffs (Blackwater Wild Life Refuge is 20 minutes away), the Grille is not only convenient, but provides good, homemade, comfort food. Usually.
So, BCD parents stopped for breakfast and on the front steps of the Grille, the white board announced that “Tonight is Game Night”. Since the Grille doesn’t have TV for sports, one wondered. Chef Holli told us that during the hunting season (now), she does a special combination plate of dishes based on wild game, mostly local. “Would you like to come?” “Yes” “Reservations required?” “yes!”. So back we came later that day to a packed house (about 60 people) for “Game Night”.
|An Original Spelling of the Family Name|
All the dishes, except for the Bear Stew were served as small portions on a single plate. There were so many dishes, and the size of the portions that things sort of ran together. But it was possible to get the “true” flavor of each dish, nonetheless. BCD Mom is mostly against eating anything that might have been considered “cute” at one time or another in its life. This applies to things like squirrel, bears, deer etc. So the experimentation was going to be mostly BCD Dad.
|The wild game dish|
As a general comment, had I not known, I would not have guessed that anything we were eating was other than good, commercial meat/fowl of one type or another. The squirrel pot pie was delicious. But it could have easily been pork, or veal. The Bear Stew also very good, maybe a little bit stringy, but no more than a beef brisket cooked that way. BCD Mom loved the fried duck legs. (Ducks are not cute?). The tiny meatballs made from Sitka Deer (this is a tiny local deer so the meatballs have to be tiny.) were delicious meatballs. My overall favorite was the Duck Mirabella, a dish with various stewed fruits.
My only criticism is that everything was very well done. This might be related to the various processes used to remove “gamey” flavor.
By the way, should you visit the Island Grille another time; we highly recommend the hamburger/cheeseburger. A half-pound of freshly ground and seasoned beef, cooked exactly to order. No frills, no bacon (well, you get can bacon if you want), and in our opinion, one of the best burgers anywhere at any price.
BCD Mom had the fried oysters with sweet potato fries which she has had many times. The oysters are local, caught that day fried with a firm, corn meal coating.
Fried Oysters with Sweet Potato Fries
|Bread Pudding (Couldn't wait to take the picture!)|
A deliciously moist bread pudding rich with raisins and then coffee, rounded out the meal. Total dinner for two with appetizer, two very generous drinks, desert and coffee, tax and tip: $56.00.
Big Thanks to BCD Dad and Mom for eating outside the box and blogging about it!