Post Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
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Don't let the easy-going, ultra casual atmosphere of the Bistro at South River Colony deceive you for one minute.
Yes it's a café perched along the golf course in that Edgewater community and, yes, most of the patrons are golfers and community residents. But the menu will surprise you and the talent of chef Frederick Daniel and the likable serving team will win your appetite — and your heart.
I get a little nervous when I arrive at a restaurant with a long list of entrees. How can the kitchen possibly turn out all of these dishes with good quality and fresh preparation? The answer is they probably can't.
But the Bistro's dinner menu is lean: six appetizers, two entrée salads, a couple of sandwiches and nine or 10 entrees. And based on my experience, chef Daniel scores mostly aces and eagles with not a bogey on the card.
Our visit came on a warm summer evening. The clubhouse bar was busy with patrons just off the course. The PGA Championship was playing on every screen.We took advantage of the $5 happy hour price on house wines to enjoy good quality pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc, perfectly chilled.
Our server, Luis, could describe in detail the ingredients and preparation of every selection (a welcome extra too rarely available) and his ebullient personality kept things moving at a satisfying pace.
Daniel's soup special that evening was a cold gazpacho ($5) that beautifully blended apples, green tomatoes, red, yellow and green peppers and fresh herbs into a smooth, delectable starter lofted to superiority by a generous sprinkling of fresh crab meat on top. You'll want more.
Our second appetizer was a sleek rendition of crab fritters. Twelve dollars buys three big squash blossoms stuffed with a mixture very much like crab imperial, lightly battered and flash fried. Served on a bed of succotash in a light tomato sauce, it was light and alluring.
Entrees at the Bistro include halibut in a tomato lemongrass sauce, salmon (peppered and maple-glazed), and crab cakes on the seafood side; baby back ribs, a beef filet and a T-bone steak, fajitas, a pasta dish and the daily "chef's inspiration."
I was all set to try the pasta in a Cajun/Creole sauce with shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage when a platter of South River Crab Cakes was delivered to a nearby table. They were not to be resisted.
Local chefs can rise or fall on their crab cakes. Some stray from the traditional Maryland style to add heresies such as mango, avocado or mushrooms. They do so at their own peril.
If you've ever eaten the crab cakes prepared by the ladies at a Southern Maryland church supper — fat, moist, luscious and full of good meat and love — you'll have some idea of what's coming out of chef Daniel's kitchen. Accompanied by fries dusted lightly with Old Bay and cole slaw, the two-cake dinner ($37) was a just-right summer meal.
My companion chose the Buckeye Filet Mignon ($32). The eight-ounce cut arrived slightly beyond the medium rare requested, but the steak, bundled in a delicate Bordelaise sauce, was juicy and flavorful. Creamy mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus in perfect portions surrounded the Buckeye beef.
Dessert time was about the time the sun was setting over the golf course and neither of us had room for the Smith Island Cake among the offerings. But a miniature ice cream sundae (at just $3) was a fine finale.
The Golf Club at South River is a lovely piece of real estate; its Bistro is casual and comfortable and boasts a chef who has fashioned a simple menu of many pleasures.Club management is considering making the golf course and Bistro a "members only" private club in the months ahead. With that in mind, I'm keeping the Bistro on my "go to" list … and so should you.