Ultimate Annapolis Adventure

On a Saturday morning, Marnay and I had a wild, car-free adventure in Annapolis. We saw some cool sights, got lots of exercise and had some great food and drink.

Traditionally when we go to Annapolis, we rent a Zipcar and drive there and back. This unfortunately limits what we are able drink. This time, we came up with the genius idea to get from Silver Spring to Annapolis without driving. We took the F4 Metrobus from Silver Spring to New Carrollton and then took a Lyft the rest of the way to downtown Annapolis, all for considerably less than the price of a Zipcar.

Annapolis capital

We arrived in Annapolis around noon and had brunch at Metropolitan Kitchen, one of our go-to spots for a solid meal. Metropolitan Kitchen is more known for their great craft beer selection and their nightlife than their food, but it was nice to get some traditional brunch food to start our long day.

Metropolitan Kitchen brunch in Annapolis

I had recently been in Annapolis for work, so I played tour guide and showed Marnay around some of the historic buildings. The State House, for example, is where George Washington resigned his military commission and became a private citizen. The original handwritten copy of his speech is on display in a replica of a room where the speech occurred.

After some walking, we were ready for a pick-me-up so we headed to Ceremony Coffee Roastery, in a semi-industrial area on the western edge of downtown. Ceremony is one of the most respected coffee roasters in the region and this is their original spot. They now have multiple cafes in Baltimore and Annapolis. Because the location is off the beaten path, it feels like a calm space in the otherwise crowded downtown Annapolis. We sat outside on this unseasonably warm afternoon, drank some nitro cold brew and planned the rest of the day.

Ceremony Coffee Roastery in Annapolis

There’s another part of Annapolis that I consider to be our little secret and that is the Spa Creek Trail. It starts near Ceremony, winds its way along Spa Creek behind a school and then eventually ends in a neighborhood. Once we arrived in the neighborhood, we took a short detour to Amos Garrett Park, a secluded alcove with incredibly peaceful water views.

Amos Garrett Park water view in Annapolis

Hungry, we walked back into downtown and hit up Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls. I devoured a Connecticut Roll, with lots of butter and no mayo, while Marnay ate a surprisingly good hot dog.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls in Annapolis

Ready for a drink, we walked across Main Street to Dry 85, the premier bar in Annapolis. Dry 85 has an incredible whiskey program, right up there with the best bars in DC. Marnay and I bellied up to the bar and enjoyed some well-made Vieux Carres and Sazeracs, in preparation for our upcoming trip to New Orleans.

Dry 85 cocktails, Vieux Carres and Sazeracs

All of this fun was leading up to our 7pm dinner at Flamant, a brand new French-Belgian restaurant from chef Frederik De Pue located in West Annapolis that has been garnering ample attention from local food writers. Flamant immediately grabbed our attention with its magnificent outdoor fire pit, perfect for this cold winter night. Very similar to Vin 909, Flamant is in a historic Craftsman house. Unlike Vin 909, Flamant takes reservations, meaning we don’t have to wait in line at some unreasonably early hour.

Flamant Salmon Rillette

Our favorite part of dinner at Flamant was that all of our small plates; the Maryland Blue Crab Rolls, the Salmon Rillette and the Cauliflower Strudel tasted exactly like their main ingredients. This seems like an obvious thing, but I mean that the crab actually received top billing in the crab rolls and the salmon flavor in the rillete was intense and not overpowered by the crème fraiche. The Old Bay gin dip for the crab rolls was a particularly nice touch. We rounded everything out with a tender, buttery roasted chicken. We watched as the chef torched a thyme sprig nestled on top the chicken from a window inside the partially open kitchen. The chef and I shared a knowing glace as he torched it – our eyes expressing something along the lines of, “This is going to be really good.” Service was professional, which was impressive because it can be tough to get fine-dining quality servers this far from a major city. Flamant is definitely a winner.

Flamant Cauliflower Strudel

Best Bite
Paul and Marnay: Blue Crab Rolls

Places we visited
Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge: 175 West Street Annapolis, MD 21401
Ceremony Coffee Roasters: Roastery: The Warehouse, 90 Russell Street #500 Annapolis, MD 21401
Amos Garrett Waterfront Park: 101 Spa View Avenue Annapolis, MD 21401
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls: 188 Main Street Annapolis, MD 21401
Dry 85: 193 B Main Street Annapolis, MD 21401
Flamant: 17 Annapolis Street Annapolis, MD 21401


Vin 909 Winecafe

On Sunday morning we got a Zipcar and took a day trip to Annapolis.  After a day full of walking and light eating, were hungry.  That is to say, there was no better place to be in Annapolis than Vin 909.  Now, you will have to wait outside before the 5:00pm opening—the restaurant does not take reservations.   Still, this is not a Rose’s Luxury type line either.  It is very reasonable and it’s no place to shy away from just because there may be a line.

We were one of the first people in line when we arrived at 4:40.  As a result, we were able to snag two of the four stools at the chef’s counter, facing the open kitchen.  (Interestingly, were seated next to two guys we had been sitting next to at the bar at Preserve a few minutes earlier).   Vin 909 has a concise menu and is known for its small plates.  In fact, there are no traditional entrée sized dishes on the menu.  The choices are salads, small plates and pizzas.  I am not sure that the tiny kitchen in this former Sears Craftsman home could handle much more than that.

We started with the local dayboat sea scallops from Cape May with hand ground polenta, pickled ramp puree and sea urchin sauce.  The seared scallops were some the best we have ever had, golden on the outside and soft on the inside.  The polenta was rich, made even richer by the sea urchin sauce.  We had the added benefit of watching our scallops prepared right in front of us.

Vin 909 makes “Eastport” style pizzas, named after the neighborhood of Annapolis where the restaurant is located.  This style of pizza is rectangular and extremely thin, with a nice char on the crust.  It’s more than enough for two people.   We ordered the “OMG”, which looked like the epitome of spring.  It had local Berkshire speck, asparagus, spring onion, cumin spiced olives, three types of cheeses and chive oil.  Despite seeming like an odd combination, all the ingredients went extremely well together.

Our busy server abandoned us for a while after we finished the pizza, but we were able to order our dessert from one of the runners who came for our plates.  There was a lot of teamwork on display among the staff members.  It seemed like they genuinely wanted the restaurant to succeed.

We finished up with a light and airy butterscotch pudding, served with homemade caramel cookies for scooping.  A sweet end to a delicious meal.

Best Bite
Marnay: the the “OMG” Pizza
Paul: the “OMG” Pizza

Vin 909 Winecafe: 909 Bay Ridge Ave Annapolis, MD 21403