Despite a year of intense hardships due to the pandemic, Frederick County is once again gearing up for its annual spring restaurant week.
The event, which comes on the heels of Frederick’s first-ever summer restaurant week in August, runs March 1 to 7 and features 21 restaurants across the county from Monrovia to Emmitsburg. Many of the participating restaurants are offering pre-set lunch and dinner menus for one flat price. Each menu includes three or four courses.
In preparation for the week, I tried out menu items at a couple of the participating restaurants. A full list of all 21 spots participating in this year’s event — which are more focused on takeout this year due to the lingering effects of the pandemic — along with more details about the week, are available at visitfrederick.org/restaurant-week/.
A downtown staple
A mainstay downtown, Bushwaller’s is once again participating in restaurant week with a menu available for both lunch and dinner the entire week.
The Irish and American pub will offer diners a choice between two or three courses. A two-course lunch is $12 and a three-course lunch is $15. For dinner, two courses will cost $17, while three courses will cost $20. The lunch prices and offerings will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and dinner will be available from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
No matter what time of day diners visit Bushwaller’s during restaurant week, the crab pretzel is a must-try for the first course. Offered on both the lunch and dinner menus, it’s large enough to have for a meal if you’re not too hungry. It’s cheesy, creamy and doughy with the perfect hint of Old Bay seasoning. It is served alongside dipping cups of both marinara and beer cheese sauce and is the perfect start to your meal.
If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, Bushwaller’s has two crab soup options, both of which have large chunks of crab meat. Or if you’re not feeling crab at all, the steak and cheese egg rolls are a hearty option for a first course.
Owner Amber DeMorett said in an email that the egg rolls have been a consistent hit over the years.
“They are delicious and only available two times a year during Restaurant Week. People will come in all week long just to order these egg rolls,” she said.
For the second course, Bushwaller’s is offering a lot of staple pub eats including fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and chicken pot pie.
The fish and chips includes two large, beer-battered Pangasius fish filets fried to crispy perfection with a heaping amount of fries. The Shepherd’s Pie is incredibly comforting and savory and comes in a sourdough bread bowl for all those carb lovers out there. The chicken pot pie is housemade and comes served in a flakey and buttery puff pastry.
The third course is a simple choice of two desserts — apple cake with ice cream or cheesecake with fresh berries. Either is a good option after what I’m sure will be some heavy and tasty first and second courses.
Bushwaller’s is offering, dine-in, carry-out and delivery for restaurant week this year. DeMorett said that if customers wish to carry out or take advantage of the delivery option they can place their orders directly through the restaurant’s website.
“We use our own delivery drivers so the fees and tips go directly to support people and businesses that are local to Frederick,” she said.
Despite the twists and turns of the past year, DeMorett said she loves participating in restaurant week to show people the ability of Bushwaller’s kitchen.
“I love the ability to have people get to know the GastroPub side of Bushwaller’s. We love making comfort food available any time of the year. You never know when you need a little foodie love like your mom used to make, just slightly better,” she said.
Bushwaller’s will be celebrating its 40th year in downtown Frederick this year and DeMorett said she is grateful to be a part of such a supportive community.
“I know we will be heading into the next 40 years with a strong, supportive community behind us. There is no place on earth like Frederick and the kind folks that call this place home,” she said.
Supporting future chefs
Supporting local restaurants is the main mission of restaurant week but diners can go even further and support local students if they choose to eat at 200 Monroe.
The student-run restaurant is from Frederick Community College’s Hospitality, Culinary and Tourism Institute, or HCTI. It’s open for one day a week throughout the semester and showcases students’ culinary and hospitality talent.
Their set semester menu, which offers three courses, will be available during restaurant week for one price of $22.
Meals will only be available for carry-out on Thursday, March 4, during the restaurant’s regularly scheduled hours of 5 to 7:30 p.m.
All restaurant week orders at 200 Monroe must be placed online. Elizabeth DeRose, HCTI manager, said customers don’t have to wait until the day-of to place their orders, though, and can begin placing them the Friday before if they want to ensure they are able to pick up their meals at a certain time.
For the first course, diners can choose between a ginger carrot soup or a mixed green salad with a champagne dijon vinaigrette.
The second course offers four options — a four cheese and spinach cannelloni, served with house-made focaccia and marinara sauce; chicken with wild mushrooms, served with wild mushroom sauce, barley and asparagus spears; grilled flank steak marinated in sesame, soy, ginger and miso and served with jasmine scallion rice and grilled baby bok choy; and a shrimp crabcake, served with baked corn pudding, Old Bay roasted potatoes and remoulade sauce.
The grilled flank steak in particular had a beautiful array of Asian flavors and the meat was cooked perfectly medium-rare. The cannelloni had a bright and robust tomato sauce and was stuffed to the brim with spinach and cheese.
For dessert, each meal comes with a rather large and decadent fudge brownie that is sure to hit any sweet spot. Diners also get their choice of beverage, a house-made lemonade or a freshly brewed unsweetened iced tea.
This is the fourth year 200 Monroe has participated in restaurant week and DeRose said it’s a great opportunity to highlight the students and all they have learned.
“This provides students with invaluable hands-on experience, putting into practice what they’ve learned over the course of their two-plus years in our program,” she said. “Because the restaurant operates only when class is in session during the fall and spring semesters, this provides a limited-time opportunity for the public to experience first-hand what HCTI has to offer, and spread the word to others.”
Katryna Perera is the food reporter and critic for the Frederick News-Post. A longtime “food enthusiast” she has taken cooking classes both domestically and internationally and is continuously following food trends and restaurant openings. She also briefly studied food reporting while attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill; on Instagram: @kjp_eats.