On a dangerously rainy day across the Potomac in Berkeley Springs, WV, I found myself — as Johnny Cash sang — in water “two feet high and rising”. I wasn’t gonna stick around to see it hit five. Under those conditions, it’s a long way back to Baltimore and some sort of brunch was in order.
A quick scan of brunch places in the area and I discovered the menu for Buddy Lou’s Eats Drinks & Antiques in Hancock, MD. Though I had not been aware of the place, they’ve been open for four years. In good weather, there are lots of umbrella tables for alfresco dining. There was a bar-type place before Buddy Lou’s and before that, the central part of the building served as a gatehouse for the C & O Canal.
On the top floor, they sell souvenirs and some cool vintage jewelry/accessories. The main floor houses the restaurant, bar, vintage tv and radio room. Downstairs is a substantially sized antiques emporium.
Since I appeared at their door like a drowned cat at the stroke of 10, I wasn’t able try their cocktails. Maryland is in the Puritanical era when it comes to (most) of their liquor laws! Our Comptroller is the lone voice against the choir of lobbyists protecting entrenched interests, but that’s a story for another day. I missed out on experiencing Buddy Lou’s loaded Bloody Mary with cucumber vodka or Cheetoes vodka! Where has this been my whole life?
I had seized upon eating at this place because their menu boasted a number of locally grown, locally sourced and housemade items, like house-smoked (and candied) bacon. Also, they have a depth to their menu: you can go from super healthy, vegan to the heights of indulgence, like lobster Hollandaise. I was in the mood to keep things under control, so the avocado toast with juicy blistered tomatoes fit the bill. Wholesome, whole grain bread had fanned avocado slices, the grape tomatoes and sprinkled sesame seeds. There are sea salt grinders on the table, but I was cutting down on salt.
I also wanted to try one of their recipes and selected their most popular appetizer: fried green tomatoes. They were crunchy, not at all soggy, served with not one, but two house-made sauces. One was a cocktail-style sauce with horseradish, the other, a classic tiger sauce. The horseradish took the tomatoes into a new realm: the batter wasn’t overpoweringly seasoned with seasoning salt — like so many are. The bitter root is a great match.
The decor in the establishment is really fun and has a lot of the heart of the owner in it. Her mother was named Pearl, so pearls pop up as a theme in unique, hand-made glass, the bar top, draping little vintage toys. Barrels have been transformed into comfy, bucket-style chairs.