Thursday, May 13, 2010
Talking to Washingtonians they all say, "Where the hell is Buckeystown?" Hell, talk to a lot of people and the reply is the same. And I would never know save one helluva find by my mother-in-law(who knows everyone I swear), and late father-in-law Mike.
The chef Chris Smallwood is the son of Chip Smallwood, my late father-in-law's grilling buddy. Chip and Mike ran a cool operation of catering bar-b-que as well as breakfasts called "Guys on the Grill". Long story short, when we were looking for a caterer for our wedding Mary Ellen said, "Why don't you go with Chip's son Chris...he caters all the time...he makes wonderful home made ice creams...the food is divine".
So, we went out and met Chris at a little wedding he was catering. Food was simple yet elegant...he was hired, our wedding was perfect, end of story. Or was it? Bout a year ago word on the street got out that Chris was investing in a new venture, opening a restaurant at an old Inn called "Alexander's", located in Buckeystown, Maryland.
"Where the hell is that?" I said. "Near Mike's brother's place for the annual corn roast." said my wife. "Aha, middle of nowhere..." And yes, you blink, you have driven through the thriving metropolis of Buckeystown. However, if you keep your eyes open you will actually see a huge mansion with about three signs reading out, "Alexander's".
It's actually quite stately, unique, cozy, and well...comfy. As you walk onto the veranda you can imagine yourself sipping iced tea, or maybe a mint julep. There you are, rocking on the porch, watching the weather pass, wondering where each car is going as they drive by, talkin' bout' nothin'.
You walk in, such a non assuming place for an old mansion. The staff, welcoming and simple. The tables, antiquey with white linen. There are no pretenses. Thank god for that too, because much of the beltway arena is nothing but a soulless and shallow succubus of material. I don't care what car you drive, who you know or what you do. I do care about who you are. And that's what sticks about this place from the start. People are who they are...there's some meat on them bones at Alexander's. The service may not be fancy and elegant, but it's genuine and real.
The chef, he's pretty gifted as he is a "One Man Band". No sous chef, no prep, no guy at the fry station...and definately no pastry chef. The guy is all alone back there, sweating it out, putting soul onto plates.
Before opening, Chris and Chip journeyed to the south in search of the best pulled pig, fried chicken, home made pie, a la best damn southern food to emulate in that talent laden mind of his. My wife said, "There's no way I'd like to share a room with them at night after eating all that comfort food"...she's got a point. Roughage...line two...need some help here...
Our epic pilgrimmage and party of 5 diners gave us 2 entrees, 3 appetizers, 1 extra side, and 5 desserts. Christ, in hindsight that's a lot of food. Aha, to the food...
Crispy Pork Boudin Balls with Tomato-Grain Mustard Dipping
Who the hell can beat hand rolled and deep fried sausage balls cooked perfectly?
Fried Green Tomatoes with Pickled Shrimp and Red Onion
A finely sliced green tomato...perfectly paired with the pickled shrimp.
Slow Smoked Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on a
Buttermilk Biscuit Sliders
His Pimento Cheese is the real deal, the biscuits are great...the Brisket and the tomato based sauce pairs with the savory cheese like nothing I have ever eaten.
Southern Fried Chicken
What can you say about half a chicken fried to a succulent perfection...moist, crispy skin...I'm having a seizure...or maybe orgasm...I think I need a cigarette, or a nap...
Low Country Shrimp in sherry cream sauce with Benton’s
Bacon and Roasted Peppers on Creamy Stone Ground Grits
Been to Charleston...Where the hell is Charleston and who the hell cares after eating these grits?
Chocolate Cake with a Marshmallow Creme Frosting
Yellow Cake with a Vanilla Bean Frosting
Yellow Cake with a Marmalade Jam, and Vanilla Bean Frosting
To be honest, the cakes were a bit dry...good ideas however. Chris himself admitted he was working on getting the moisture "just right". The Marshmallow frosting reminded me of a "Moonpie"...paging R.C. Cola? Anyone got any? Seriously, when you remind a southern boy of Moonpies and R.C. Colas you're doing something right.
Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream
Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream
His Ice Creams are the creme de la creme....no pun intended, some of the best I've tasted. Fresh frozen strawberries in the vanilla ice cream....and a terrific strong coffee bean ground in the chocolate.
Let us never forget...the most perfect side available...Potatoes Au Gratin...heaven in many many a bite!
Bottom line, Chris Smallwood is just waiting to be discovered. And he's doing it the right way. He's done his research, he is perfecting his dishes, and you will not be disappointed at this little hideaway.