Light glints off chrome-plated woks in a glass-enclosed kitchen at the eatery’s center. Patrons look on from a semi-circular sushi bar or the surrounding tiered seats as chefs handcraft Asian dishes ranging from marinated nigiri sushi to the house specialty—vegetarian sweet-and-sour fried chicken. Japanese seaweed salads also emanate from the kitchen alongside Chinese classics such as peking duck and kung pao beef, which warms diners’ insides as effectively as spicy tuna rolls swaddled in tiny afghans. To end meals in style, coconut flan or Chocolate Duo Mocesse trip lightly across the tastebuds.
To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
The sandwich assemblers at The Corned Beef Factory know that the best sandwiches are built carefully, and not just thrown together. They pile deli meats and cheeses onto Kaiser rolls, sub rolls, or pieces of rye or white bread before dressing them with Russian dressing, mustard, and other accoutrements. Sandwiches can be paired with homemade sides such as crab soup or coleslaw, or desserts such as lemon meringue pie, red velvet cake, or strawberry cheesecake. The Corned Beef Factory also caters events, offering sandwich and salad trays or a five-foot submarine sandwich that can be stuffed with a few crowbars and delivered to a buddy in jail.
Within a 272-year-old fieldstone building, the aroma of pan-seared seafood and glazed meat drifts through dining rooms as patrons clink together glasses of fine wines. The location didn't always have such a refined air; throughout its history it served as a rest area for travelers and a prestigious school for boys. It wasn't until 1947, when Ivan Drechsler purchased the location, that it was restored and established as a country inn.
Today, executive chef and owner Brian Boston, who was recently named 2011 Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland, crafts upscale American dishes in the Inn's bustling kitchen. Plates of artisan cheeses and steaming bowls of fresh Maryland crab soup travel to the dining room, warming up stomachs for later courses more efficiently than a series of lunges beside one's table. Entrees such as the 12-ounce grilled rib-eye steak and wild-mushroom-stuffed phyllo star in the inventive, upscale menu next to sides of grilled summer vegetables.
Nearly 200 handpicked red and white wines age gracefully in an underground wine cellar, which rests beneath colonial-style dining rooms illumined by tabletop candles and crackling flames from a rustic stone fireplace. The Milton Inn Restaurant requests that male guests don jackets, a prerequisite that arose after the short-lived “shirtless cummerbund” fad of the late 1980s. Diners that commute via four-wheeled steed can deposit their vehicles in the eatery's free parking lot.
The chefs at India Palace embrace traditional Indian recipes and cooking techniques, customizing the spice of each entree to meet diners’ preferences. In the kitchen, an imported tandoor uses smoldering mesquite charcoal to raise temperatures within its clay walls up to 550 degrees, roasting marinated servings of chicken, lamb, or shrimp as thoroughly as a deep-fryer full of magma. For their vegetarian options, the chefs can toss vegetables with house-made cottage cheese or aromatic basmati rice.
According to Patch, India Palace also features a small market next door to the restaurant, which emphasizes fresh produce, assorted varieties of rice, and traditional spices from India and South Asia.