There’s a new kid in town! Sam & Maggie’s Dockside Grill opened in February, offering “Chesapeake fare - Caribbean flair.” It’s a gem with both ambiance and excellent cuisine.
My family will go to some restaurants because we love the atmosphere. Others, we visit because we really like the food despite the atmosphere. But this place nails both. It focuses on quality over quantity. Everything, including desserts, is prepared onsite from scratch.
My friend and I got a reservation at 7:15pm on a Saturday. The restaurant has a modern decor, — chic and clean, with a nod to the nautical. It was a beautiful evening, so we chose to eat outdoors. Sam & Maggie’s has a large deck overlooking the waters of Wall Cove, off of Rock Creek. With Edison lights hanging on the rail, and candles on the tables, it’s a perfect romantic spot.
Both of us remarked on the music – an eclectic but mostly ‘80s mix and not too loud.
My companion chose a mango margarita. It was served in a mason jar rather than the iconic margarita glass, and what it lacked in size, it made up for in strength.
We began our meal by sharing a special of gulf shrimp and compressed watermelon. Beautifully presented, the dish surprised my palette. Compression enhances both the color and flavor of the watermelon. This chef topped the fruit with a thin slice of a cucumber and large shrimp. He combined mint and basil for a cool, aromatic zing, and added feta and toasted pine nuts for additional flavor and texture. Placed atop a balsamic drizzle, the ingredients blended and the whole concoction was a wonderful starter.
For the main dish, I chose the colossal shrimp and polenta cakes served with sweet corn and blistered tomatoes. My companion picked an island burger served with kettle chips.
Our servers, all friendly and professional, delivered our food promptly.
My companion’s burger came out perfectly prepared, medium rare. Topped with a fried sweet pineapple, some cool avocado cream, and lemon chipotle aioli, the dish was pronounced by my friend as “exquisite.” I took an order home to hubby, who enjoyed it, but pronounced it a bit small - but this isn’t the place for supersized burgers, I assured him. It’s a restaurant dedicated to lovingly preparing food to taste incredible. It’s food to savor.
My shrimp and polenta were just as exquisite. I’ve grown to enjoy polenta, especially when it’s done right — in my opinion — slightly sweet, hot, with a texture between mashed potatoes and bread. It’s the chef’s masterful use of herbs and spices that elevates this food. The sweet corn was fresh, as were the tomatoes. Altogether a lovely dish.
I’m picky when it comes to desserts. I was blessed to have a mother who baked constantly and crafted delicious baked goods with some regularity. I was skeptical of a “spiced brownie,” but I was pleasantly surprised by the heat of cayenne pepper mixed with chocolate, surrounded by berries, and topped with sweet mascarpone cream. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it, but I’m certain I will taste it again soon!
While the menu is limited, the selections are marvelous. Our total came to about $85 for two meals, an appetizer, a dessert and a drink.
An aside - according to the website, the restaurant is named after the owners’ two dogs, Sam and Maggie, which “stole our hearts and never gave them back.” The grill is dedicated to “all of our beloved four-legged family members, both with us now and those who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.”
I highly recommend this restaurant. It is open 5:30pm-9:30pm Thursday through Saturday. Reservations are suggested.