A new restaurant named Preserve will open later this spring on Main Street in Annapolis. The location is the old Aqua Terra space, which closed in April 2012.
The owners of Preserve are a married couple, Michelle and Jeremy Hoffman, who have recently relocated to Annapolis from Alexandria, Va.
This is the first restaurant for the couple, who met as students at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Jeremy Hoffman left his chef de cuisine job at Alexandria's highly regarded Restaurant Eve, where he worked for the seven-time James Beard Foundation award-nominee Cathal Armstrong.
Their restaurant's name, Preserve, has a double meaning, said Michelle Hoffman, referring both to plans to do in-house pickling and preserving at the restaurant and to the idea of building community.
The Hoffmans are still in the process of gutting the old Aqua Terra space and converting it into an environment that fits their vision for Preserve.
"We want it to be a neighborhood restaurant," Michelle Hoffman said. "It will have something for everybody." The menu, which is still in development, will include snacks, soups, sandwiches and plates for sharing along with a few main entrees. The Hoffmans have started to forge relationships with purveyors in the Annapolis area, including a fishmonger who they say will provide them with fresh fish daily.
Jeremy Hoffman said Preserve won't be forcing progressive cuisine on unsuspecting Annapolitans. "I feel like the menu is designed to serve things that are familiar but also a small step out of their comfort zone," he said. "They'll find the food approachable."
So, alongside the charcuterie plates and vegetable-based side dishes like purple-top turnips and cast-iron mushroom with fava-shoot pesto, there will be Old Bay shrimp toast, Buffalo wings and, one of Jeremy Hoffman's specialties, pierogi.
The decor for the 24-seat restaurant will combine industrial elements with re-purposed materials. The navy blue bar counter is made from recycled glass and oyster shells. They did not, Michelle Hoffman said, want the barn-like decor that's in vogue now. "We want to make [guests feel] like they're going to somebody's house for dinner," she said. "Nobody's going to be sitting on pallets."
The Hoffmans are working to open Preserve in June.