Dining Out: Passion a Key Ingredient at Bread and Butter Kitchen

Food blogger turned restaurateur Monica Alvarado has an easy way with food. But it wasn’t always the case. Ask her about the first thing she learned to cook, and she starts laughing.

“It’s a funny story – turkey for Thanksgiving. I cooked the turkey and realized there’s a bag inside!”

Her cooking, and her life, has evolved since then.

Following stints in the Air Force and corporate IT, she developed a passion for farm-to-table cooking and started a meals-to-go business, knitting together local farmers and suppliers. She brought that same philosophy to the former Harbour Café when she took it over in May, renaming it Bread and Butter Kitchen after two of her favorite things.

Juggling the roles of owner, chef and manager, she’s in her element. “I want to be that little hidden gem in Eastport where we’re making excellent food,” she said.

I visited this small cheery spot twice in as many weeks, with two batches of friends, and had a good experience both times.

The first was on a rainy Saturday for brunch. We snagged the table for four. Six can sit at the window-side counter offering a killer view across Spa Creek. That’s it.

The weekday lunch rush was on when I returned 10 days later to find a line stretching from the counter to the door. With no seats inside, we dined alfresco at tables on the sidewalk behind the building. It borders a private parking lot, but you can see the masts of boats bobbing in Spa Creek and the famous Annapolis skyline.

The brunch bunch’s samplings ranged all over the menu.

Julie picked the breakfast burrito ($5.95): scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage or chorizo, cheese and house salsa. It was moist, flavorful with a nice chorizo kick, and just the right size – not one of those monster burritos you see nowadays. “This is worth coming back for,” she said.

Jennifer, who eats gluten-free, appreciated that BBK sources from the Gluten Free Bakery Girl in Easton and our local Great Harvest Bakery.

She tried a signature item, the BBK ($7.50): your choice of toast sandwiching a fried egg with bacon, cheddar, avocado, red onion and house mayo, a nice blend of tastes and textures.

Both ladies agreed a fruit salad or even a slice of melon would have been a nice addition to their plates. There are bananas and tangerines available at the counter, however.

I went with the wild mushroom flatbread ($9.25), and was rewarded with a plate of gooey earthy goodness. BBK’s homemade pizza sauce includes basil grown on site.

We shared a raspberry scone with a lime glaze ($3). It was moist, with the perfect crumb texture, loaded with fruit, and just-right sweet. Monica said these goodies sell out daily.

The lunch group enabled me to sample a lamb gyro special, roasted tomato soup, grilled veggie wrap and banh mi burger.

The gyro ($10.50) was bomb, as my college daughter would say. It started as a leg of lamb marinated overnight in a seasoned yogurt sauce. The tender meat, with hints of coriander, ginger and cinnamon, came with sumac onions on top and a green side salad.

Danielle, quite a foodie, inquired about the recipe and learned the credit goes to a previous owner from Syria. Until it cycles back, there’s a classic or chicken gyro on the menu ($9.25).

BBK offers two from-scratch soups daily. Pam chose a cup of the perennial roasted tomato ($5.50), which came with a three-count of pierogi from local vendor Rogue Pierogies, a nice alternative to rolls or crackers.

Dörthe described the grilled veggie wrap ($8.25) as “not exciting, but solid.” She would have preferred more feta to counter the mix of grilled and roasted veggies.

I got the banh mi burger and divided up half for the group to share. It’s a party in your mouth: ground turkey seasoned with lemongrass, chili paste and garlic, topped with pickled carrots, cucumbers, jalapenos, cilantro and sriracha mayo. My lips had a nice tingly burn afterward.

BBK sells cans of soda for $1 (that’s right) and has a big glass jug of fruit-infused water for the taking on the counter. They brew Open Seas coffee out of Stevensville, but no decaf.

I’ll have to return to sample dessert (and pick up more scones). Monica says the rotating list of homemade desserts includes mini Key lime pies, brownies, and GF offerings. You can pick out a locally made Cumberstone ice pop from the freezer, or take home some frozen soup for a jumpstart on dinner.

Monica’s passion for her work continues to grow. She’s added catering and online ordering and is considering local delivery, as well as bringing back “meals to go.” Her example underscores what I tell my kids: do what you love, and good things will follow.

Bread and Butter Kitchen

WHERE: 303 Second Street, Suite A, Eastport (near The Chart House)

PHONE: 410-202-8680

WEBSITE: www.breadandbutterkitchen.com

HOURS: Daily, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

OWNER/MANAGER/CHEF: Monica Alvarado

BREAKFAST: $4 to $8.65; “Lite Bites” include homemade scones ($3) and yogurt parfait ($4.50)

LUNCH: Soups, Snacks, Salads: $2 to $9; Sandwiches, Flatbreads: $5.50 to $10.25; Daily specials

RESERVATIONS: No

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards accepted

ACCESSIBILITY: Outside seating is handicapped accessible.

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