Beneath sunny yellow walls and colorful hanging lights, the griddles at Sofi's Crepes sizzle with sweet and savory creations. Owner Ann Costlow opened the crêperie, named for her beloved and spirited puppy, after cultivating a passion for the culinary arts through work as a galley chef and extensive French travel. Breakfast crêpes shroud maple syrup, blueberries, and bacon in an edible blanket, and spatulas flip up an extensive menu of specialties that can be enjoyed throughout the day and used to lure out the singing phantom that lives in every house’s attic. Savory avocado, gruyère cheese, and mushrooms compose a hearty crêpe, and sweet Nutella and homemade butterscotch toppings allow customers to design delights that pair well with coffee, cocoa, and cider.
Back in their native France, Fernand's family owned a farm and Odette's owned a bar in the region of Brittany. When the two met, therefore, it was only a matter of time before they decided to open their own restaurant. But the Tersiguels went above and beyond: they created a chef! Today, their son Michel is the executive chef at their eponymous restaurant.
It was 1964 when, with Michel on the way, the couple first came to New York. Within three days of being hired at Top of the Fair, Fernand was promoted to lead bus boy. And within four years, the Tersiguels had founded their first restaurant, La Poularde. They later opened their second, Chez Fernand, though after nine years of success the restaurant was lost in a fire. Though the experience was upsetting, the couple used it as an opportunity to move downtown to the Old Baltimore Shot Tower.
In 1990 they opened Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant in the heart of Ellicott City, and the family has resurrected their multigenerational commitment to food—and their passion for the industry—by serving seasonal plates of classic French favorites. Escargots, frog legs, and bœuf à la Bourguignonne dance across the menu before house-made chocolate mousse delights palates. Odette's own family recipe is used to make the pâté de Campagne. So deep is the family's dedication to fine food that some customers even sign up just to shadow Michel for a day, following the chef from his 5 a.m. market trip to the kitchen as he prepares that evening's meals and invents his own type of fire to uses in the oven.
For more than 25 years, French-born chef Jean-Louis Evennou has filled Café Normandie with Gallic cuisine peppered with flavors from the Eastern seaboard. A chef since the age of 13, Evennou seasons endive salad with strong roquefort cheese and rabbit with tangy dijon sauce and simmers beef bourguignon in another rich sauce. Dinners also include American-inspired recipes such as crab soup with Maryland vegetables, as well as housemade pastries and crème caramel.
In 2008, Café Normandie was certified as a sustainable steward by the city of Annapolis for its eco-friendly initiatives. The restaurant follows intensive composting and recycling guidelines; in addition, it stocks biodegradable carry-out gear and serves its meals on tabletops made of marble salvaged from the ruins of the Louvre.
Mike and Tim Murphy, the brothers behind Burger Bros., specialize in hand-sculpted burgers that weigh in at a hefty 6 ounces. They crown the patties with toppings such as caramelized onions or blue cheese and also marinate portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian version of their classic handheld. Burgers aren’t the only reason to visit, though. Cooks also toss chicken wings with piquant sauces and cut Idaho potatoes by hand to create their fries. Patrons can sip ice-cream floats, freshly squeezed lemonade, or Mexican Coca-Cola sweetened with real cane sugar rather than mashed up cupcakes.
The chefs at Bread and Circuses Bistro—formerly called The French Press Cafe—serve up colorful American cuisine with a contemporary edge in a vintage-café-inspired dining room. The bistro's menu, like a yellow-marker-wielding culinary student, highlights an eclectic array of paninis, such as the grilled vegetable, a sumptuous repository of root vegetables and roasted red pepper garbed in bruschetta and balsamic vinaigrette ($8), or the new york strip steak and cheese ($10). Chew into the crusty exteriors of nonpressed sandwiches, including the baltimore club, a double-stacked crab-cake BLT (market price). Explore entrees such as the shrimp-and-scallop risotto ($17) or the salmon, pampered with a molasses kneading, rainforest-fruit-salsa dressing, and a French manicure before nestling against roasted red potatoes and grilled vegetables ($15).
It didn't take long for Scott Nelowet to fall in love with french fries in Europe. While most fries he had tried in the US were droopy or overly crisp, the cones of Belgian fries had a crisp exterior paired with a soft interior due to the chefs' double-frying technique. Nelowet recreates these perfect fries at French Fry Heaven, but instead of serving them as the Belgians would?with mayo or vinegar?Nelowet devised a menu of more than 50 sweet and salty toppings, including brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, cheese, and more.
Chefs begin by creating thick-cut slices of potatoes and sweet potatoes, which they then fry twice in gluten-free oil. Once fries have cooled, they pile on toppings, such as the French Quarter fries' Cajun seasoning and remoulade sauce or the cha cha fries' sweet and hot mix of cinnamon, sugar, and red hot chili sauce. Each order of fries can be further customized with flavorful salts, which have been infused with either black truffle, smoked wood, or ghost pepper for the hottest spice you can legally handle without putting your tongue through stop-drop-and-roll training.