By Kit Waskom Pollard
Everyone in the Chesapeake area has a favorite spot for outdoor dining — from tried and true favorites like Pusser’s on the water in Annapolis to relative newcomers, including The Point Crabhouse in Arnold.
Severna Park couple Mike and Melissa Murray are busy with three kids and a real estate business, so they don’t get out nearly as much as they’d like. This summer, though, they’re hoping to recreate some of their favorite memories from years past, dining outside, on the water, at The Point.
“The atmosphere at The Point is great, the food is delicious and the drinks are fantastic,” Melissa says. “It’s got a great vibe. We really don’t do it enough!”
From waterside tables in Baltimore to a patio perched above Main Street in Ellicott City, here are a few of our favorite places to celebrate date night outdoors this summer.
Bartlett Pear Inn
38 South Harrison St., Easton
Entrees $26-$36; $75 for a five-course or $95 for a seven-course tasting menu
This boutique inn and restaurant is run by Jordan and Alice Lloyd, a couple with Easton roots and major restaurant chops. The Bartlett Pear Inn has garnered the highest praise from both locals and nationally recognized critics, who love Chef Jordan’s thoughtful and creative farm-to-table philosophy in the kitchen.
Any seat in the restaurant is special, but during the warm months, the patio is especially fabulous, with its twinkle-lit ceiling and lovely view of Harrison Street and the Bartlett Pear building and grounds.
“It’s really magical,” Alice says.
A nearby screened in porch offers a semi-outdoor option that’s great, too, even when the weather is iffy.
This summer, the Bartlett Pear team will plant herbs and edible flowers in their garden — visible from the patio — that will be used in the restaurant’s dishes. Every Friday, the Lloyds will host a happy hour featuring wines that are inexpensive but delicious.
“Wines for the patio, that make you think of sitting on a sidewalk in Italy with a big carafe on the table,” Alice says. Cin cin!
700 Mill Creek Road, Arnold
Reservations are only available during certain windows; call ahead and plan to arrive early.
Popular with Mike and Melissa Murray — and a lot of other locals — The Pointoccupies a beautiful spot on Mill Creek, just off the Magothy River. Arrive by car or by boat (the restaurant has four slips and a parallel dockage available first come, first serve) and arrive early to nab a table with a prime water view.
“It’s just a really relaxed, laid-back place that takes food and service to the next level,” says manager Julie Jones, who raves about the crab cakes and, when they’re in season, the soft shell crabs.
With big garage-style doors that stay open during nice weather, The Point has a lively, indoor-outdoor vibe that’s especially fun with a group of friends out for drinks and dinner (or crabs) sans kids.
Pure Wine Café
8210 Main St., Ellicott City
With a carefully curated wine list and a fresh, locally sourced menu of snacks, small plates and light meals, Pure Wine Café has all the ingredients for a great date night any time of year. But during the summer, when the café’s patio is open, Pure Wine is at peak perfection.
Located in a late 19th century building next to the Historic Firehouse Museum and across from an old theater, Pure Wine Café is right in the heart of historic Ellicott City, where granite bedrock and precise brickwork tell the story of the town’s early days. The patio’s second-floor location gives diners a fabulous view of town.
“One of the reasons the patio is so popular is the vantage point,” says owner PJ Strain. “You’re part of the action but with a bird’s eye view of the skyline.” The look, Strain says, is “urban-historic” — which does pair so nicely with a glass of bubbly or a sophisticated cabernet.
400 6th St., Annapolis
“We love our patio!” says Susan Parker, the director of marketing at Blackwall Hitch in Eastport. “It’s a rooftop patio overlooking downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek — perfect for watching the Blue Angels during Commissioning Week and the fireworks for the Fourth of July.”
Blackwall Hitch’s menu covers all the bases, from pizzas and sandwiches to classic Chesapeake seafood entrees. With 18 beers on tap, an extensive wine list and a collection of tasty and creative cocktails, the restaurant is a good spot for a quick hour away from the kids or a longer evening.
When you arrive, grab a table shaded by an oversized umbrella or settle into a seat on one of the comfortable sofas. Whether it’s a casual afternoon of drinks with other couples or a long, romantic dinner under the stars, the Blackwall Hitch patio is a gorgeous setting with a fabulous view of the city sparkling below.
Wit on the Water (at Wit + Wisdom Tavern)
Four Seasons Hotel, 200 International Dr., Baltimore
With sweeping views of the Baltimore harbor and one of the best chefs in the city, Wit on the Water — the waterfront patio attached to Wit + Wisdom Tavern — is a prime spot for a date night to remember. The restaurant hosts an annual blowout on the Fourth of July — the patio offers a spectacular view of Baltimore’s fireworks — and fun events all summer long, including a June 11 party featuring beer, cornhole and live music, celebrating the beginning of summer and the launch of Flying Dog Brewery’s new cookbook.
Wit + Wisdom is well-known for both its top-notch food and its impressive wine and cocktail program. For the patio, sommelier Julie Dalton puts the focus on fun, choosing wines that are fresh and approachable (“Yay, rose!” she laughs) and lead bartender Aaron Joseph gets creative with seasonally inspired cocktails.
With the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel and Spa right upstairs, you may even want to turn date night into a full-fledged date weekend. And why not? It’s summertime.