On Tuesday, August 15th, I drove south in heavy rain to Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County. The main reason for my trip was to collect three club-member bottles of wine from Port of Leonardtown Winery (see Wine club: let’s talk about it). Jessie’s Kitchen (click here to see their full listing in our Food & Drink Business Directory) was my choice for lunch while in the area.
Since La Rive Breton closed, I’d heard Jessie’s Kitchen (open since December, 2016) might now be the best spot in town. While my GPS guided me to within a few yards of their door, it wasn’t easy to make out which place it was, since it is in a relatively new building with multiple businesses. The façades all looked much the same, and the only way to tell them apart was by carefully looking for the identifying signs.
Jessie's Kitchen offerings
On their Facebook page, Jessie’s Kitchen is described three ways: Asian fusion restaurant, American restaurant, and wine bar. In reality, it covers more bases than that. The menu includes a Cuban reuben sandwich (Caribbean/Jewish fusion), quinoa tabbouleh salad (an eastern Mediterranean dish usually made with bulgur wheat), and fried flounder served with a Thai dipping sauce (American/Asian fusion).
On their Facebook page, they list 25 beers and ciders. The wine list is even more extensive:
- 12 Reds
- 8 Whites
- 3 Rosés
- 5 Sparkling
- 3 Sakes (which the menu lists as “saki”)
- 4 Ports
I started with drinks and asked the server to recommend a dark beer. I was told the Rye 51 from Monument City Brewing Co. in Baltimore, MD was pretty good (one of the items listed as a special of the day). So, I ordered that and water. As you can see in the photo above, it’s not a dark beer, so obviously the server didn’t really know the beer menu. The beer was fine, but I would have preferred a bock, stout or porter.
After looking over the menu, I placed my food order: parmesan garlic fries, roasted pork bun, and crab shiumai (often spelled “shumai” in English, but with many variants). The waitress asked if I wanted them delivered all at once or separately, and I said all at once was fine. The beer and water showed up after a slight wait, and the food a while later.
Parmesan garlic fries
The fries were hot, crispy, and tasty. The dusting of shredded parmesan cheese was a nice touch. I’m not sure I really tasted much in the way of garlic, though. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I like garlic, but it doesn’t particularly like me.
Roasted pork bun
The bun was a white, fluffy cloud of dough. Inside was a filling of pork pieces in a brown sauce. The flavor was very good. As you can see in the photo, in spots there seemed like a lot more bun than filling, but overall it seemed like a good ratio between the two.
The big disappointment of lunch was this dish — mostly dough and very little crab. If you look carefully at the photo below on the right, the crab is the pink bits. The crab that was there was tasty, but basically I got a dough-ball with a bit of crab “icing.”
Space & Time
The restaurant is on the small side, seating perhaps 50 people. There are some low- and high-top tables, some communal seating, some individual tables, and stools at the bar. I suppose there’s something for everyone. Or not, as a lot of folks really don’t care for communal seating.
I arrived around 11:45 AM and was quickly seated, as they weren’t terribly busy. But service was on the slow side. It seemed as if they were maybe short a staffer. Not annoyingly slow, but enough to be noticed.
Jessie's Kitchen Conclusion
Given the wide variety of food available, this is the sort of place that would be good for a group of four or more people to share a lot of different plates. If my experience is any indication, it would include some very good dishes, and a few mediocre ones. But with a lot of choices, such a meal would give you a good idea of where the kitchen excels and where it doesn’t. Jessie’s Kitchen is definitely worth another visit. ♦