On Friday evening, May 19th, 2017 we had dinner at Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill (click here to see their listing in our Food & Drink Business Directory) after visiting Perigeaux Vineyards and Winery. Thunderstorms were rolling in over the area, and we were fortunate enough to arrive about 5:30 PM before the Friday night crowd really hit.
Traffic was backing up on Rte. 4 heading southwest toward Lexington Park and Naval Air Station Patuxent River — the Governor Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge across the Patuxent River, connecting Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, is a choke point. The restaurant parking lot was filling up. Because of the rain, we felt sorry for the folks on motorcycles.
While they refer to this location as being Solomons Island, the address is actually in Dowell, MD, just north of Solomons. The Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill is a combination of both a brewery and a restaurant, or what is often referred to as a Brewpub. Therefore, this is a combination review, with commentary about both food and drink — two of my favorite subjects.
As you enter, there’s a bar to the left. To your right, you can see the fermentation tanks for making the beers. Ahead of you is the kitchen on the right and to the left is the large, high-ceiling dining room. A hostess escorted us to a table and provided us menus. A drink menu was already on the table.
When our waiter arrived, I asked about getting a flight of beers. He said it was $1.75 per beer for a five-ounce pour, and that I could try as many as I wanted. The number of possibilities depends on how many beers they currently have on hand. The day we were there, the list was:
- Belgian Wit
- Indominus (also spelled Indominous on their website)
- Bloody Ruddy
The great thing about having such variety: there’ll be something for everyone.
My wife Cindy ordered a glass of Chardonnay. I ordered four beers to taste:
I tend to like dark beers, such as porters and stouts. But of these four, Düsselduck was my favorite. They describe it as a “medium bodied, amber-hued German Altbier.” I didn’t think the Porter had as much depth of flavor as I like. The Bloody Ruddy was interesting to try as it apparently uses blood orange in its flavoring, but it was too citrusy for my taste. My second favorite was the Indominus, which they call their “biggest and baddest IPA.” Please don’t get me wrong on any of these, though — I’m not saying any of them were bad. I’m sure some folks love the Porter and Bloody Ruddy. That’s the great thing about having such variety: there’ll be something for everyone.
We ordered a starter of jalapeño onion rings, mainly because I’m a big fan of onion rings. Cindy asked for their Fish ‘N Chips (“2 beer battered cod filets, fries, and pineapple coleslaw”). I ordered the Pork Wiener Schnitzel (“thinly pounded pork loin seasoned in garlic and herb breading, fried golden brown. Served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and sweet and sour red cabbage and a side of IPA mustard”).
The onion rings came pretty quickly. They were hot and crispy from the fryer. They were nicely cooked, and the coating didn’t fall off when you bit into them. We’d never before had onion rings with pieces of jalapeño peppers in the batter — they were pretty good.
What they call a “fun and exciting atmosphere” and a “vibrant space” can get to the point where you almost have to yell to be heard by someone sitting across the table from you.
After the onion rings were delivered, there was a long wait for our main dishes. The restaurant was quickly filling up. I imagine the delay in getting our main courses was because the kitchen was getting slammed with orders.
Also, as the crowd grew, so did the noise level. The dining room is a large space with a high ceiling, and little in the way of sound-absorbing surfaces. So what they call a “fun and exciting atmosphere” and a “vibrant space” can get to the point where you almost have to yell to be heard by someone sitting across the table from you.
Cindy’s fish and chips arrived, along with my schnitzel. The fish was hot and crispy and quite tasty. The slaw was supposed to have some pineapple in it, but neither of us could taste it. And the fries were… fries — hot and tasty, but nothing to write home about.
My pork wiener schnitzel came with a side of sautéed vegetables (zucchini, onions, and red and green peppers), garlic mashed potatoes, sweet and sour red cabbage (on top of the schnitzel in the photo below) and IPA mustard. The sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes were both good. The schnitzel was a bit dry. It was saved, though, by dipping it in the mustard, which was excellent. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a beer-based mustard before, but I’ve started researching recipes for beer-mustard after tasting the Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill version. As for the red cabbage, I can’t comment, because I don’t eat the stuff.
As we were leaving, there was a line of folks in the vestibule waiting to get in. The hostess said there was at least a half-hour wait before they could expect to be seated. Obviously, the Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill is a popular place. I’d definitely go back for the beer and onion rings, so maybe I’d look for a seat in the bar (and bring a growler along to take some Düsselduck home). Also, I’d hope to go when they aren’t quite so busy and noisy. ♦