Have you ever slurped a milkshake with a slice of cake sitting on the surface? Have you ever devoured an authentic Mexican dish with chicken, sausage and cactus?
We scoured the menus of area restaurants and spoke to their owners to find the most unique food and drinks around Severna Park and Arnold. The Voice staff sought unique dishes that can’t be found anywhere else nearby — entrees, desserts and drinks with a twist.
Know of something we missed? Send a description of your favorite unique menu item to email@example.com to be considered for a future story.
How it started: A fan of New Orleans culture and food, Mother’s co-owner Dave Rather was inspired by an item he saw at Jacques-Imo's Café. “They had a fried roast beef po’ boy that is called Heart Attack on a Plate,” Rather said. “This is our version of it.”
What makes it unique: Heart Attack on a Plate is a beer-battered burger, stuffed with cheddar cheese, then deep-fried and served medium with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and chipotle mayo. “I like cutting it down the middle and seeing the cheese ooze out,” Rather said.
In 2009, the Food Network Magazine picked its top 50 burgers across the country, and after a taste test, the magazine declared Heart Attack on a Plate to be among the country’s top 50 burgers. It was also featured on the “Today” show with Matt Lauer.
“It’s heavy duty,” Rather said. “It’s not for the faint of heart.”
How it started: Jeff Fitchett took ownership of The Breakfast Shoppe more than 10 years ago. The restaurant was started in the 1980s when “all you needed was to smile and serve some good food,” Fitchett said, but he wanted to add innovative menu items to satisfy people’s changing palates. “We had banana nut and apple cinnamon pancakes and that was it,” Fitchett said.
What makes it unique: The harvest pancakes appeared on the Food Network show “Ginormous Foods,” as The Breakfast Shoppe whipped up three pancakes that together weighed 30 pounds and were 1.5 feet tall. The pancakes aren’t normally served that large, only as requested as part of the show’s challenge, but it’s the flavor that makes this dish special. Fitchett is proud that he captured the pumpkin spice flavor before it became a trend.
“It made sense to take pumpkin pie elements and put them in a pancake,” Fitchett said. “We sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds on top and add whipped cream. Every place is going to have pumpkin-flavored food now, but few places are going to have something like this.”
Also Try: The backpacker’s pie was also featured on “Ginormous Foods.” Served in a cast-iron skillet, the omelet contains eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, peppers, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, and cheddar jack cheese. “That’s basically breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one,” Fitchett said.
What makes it unique: When Park Tavern was looking for a way to get guests excited about dessert, the management team sought something over the top and delicious. “What followed was a flavored milkshake and a shareable dessert component on top, all served in a buttercream-coated glass with special toppings to enjoy with the shake,” said Chris “CJ” Johnston, director of operations for 206 Restaurant Group.
Flavors and presentations change throughout the year. Park Tavern served a peppermint cake shake during the winter, a St. Patrick’s Day shake, and for National S’mores Day in August 2018, the restaurant offered a campfire cake shake. Picture a chocolate milkshake inside the glass with toasted marshmallow fluff coating the outside. Top that with a s’more lava and graham cracker cake filled with warm chocolate ganache and topped with marshmallow and you have the campfire cake shake.
For summer 2019, Park Tavern currently has a cake shake that blends vanilla ice cream and key lime juice, topped with key lime pie and whipped cream. The glass is rimmed with a graham cracker crust.
What makes it unique: This dish combines grilled rib-eye, chicken, shrimp, Mexican sausage and jalapeño poppers on top of melted cheese and chipotle sauce — served with a side of rice, beans, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream. What sets it apart? Two things. It includes cactus and it has a unique presentation.
“It’s served on a molcajete, which is kind of like a bowl, but it’s a lava rock,” said Mi Pueblo II co-owner Sergio Meza. “It’s very famous in Mexico.”
What makes them unique: At CRAFT American Eatery, patrons can order strawberry shortcake shakes, Berger cookie shakes, root beer floats and other treats, so selecting one item for this list was no easy decision. Among the most unique are the apple pie shake and the papa smurf float. The apple pie shake is a blend of candied apple, cinnamon, vanilla ice cream and caramel, with graham crackers wedged on the sides. With blueberry soda, marshmallow fluff, vanilla ice cream and graham crackers, the papa smurf float is also a delightful treat.
Also try: CRAFT features the NOLA burger, with blackened beef, tasso ham, pimento cheese, creole sauce and pepper slaw on a bun. For an especially rare meal, pair the burger with the cheesesteak fries, made of pulled beef short rib and smothered in carmelized onion and cheese sauce.
A staple of Garry’s, the BBQ chicken jalapenos are served with the restaurant’s southwest sour cream. “They have a cream cheese base with barbecue sauce and shredded chicken stuffed in a fresh jalapeno, beer-battered and fried to golden brown,” said Garry’s Grill owner Eddie Conway.
A unique blend of ingredients and textures can be found in the summer scallops at Cafe Mezzanote. The dry pack scallops are served with sweet corn puree, charred corn garbanzo bean red pepper succotash, crispy zucchini ribbons and a spicy tomato vinaigrette.
These menu items are more traditional but equally flavorful.
This Smith Island Cake has homemade chocolate ganache icing spread between 10 layers of golden vanilla cake. That’s not what makes it unique, though. It’s the process. “Instead of baking our layers in 10 different pans, we hand-slice the 10 layers out of a single tall cake,” explained Julianne Brown, who owns Cakes and Confections with her husband, Michael. “It takes a little more skill, but we think that results in a more moist cake.”
This sandwich boats slow-roasted beef shaved thin and served on the restaurant’s famous kimmelweck roll, with au jus for dipping.
Made to cure those weekend hangovers, the breakfast bomb at Garry’s is a house-made biscuit stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheese, a sausage patty and Applewood smoked bacon. The biscuit is beer-battered, fried and topped with country gravy.
This dessert is a vanilla sponge cake with Eastern Shore peach sorbet, candied peaches, aged balsamic and fresh mint.
This Pekin duck is simmered in gravy, finished in an oven with peach aperol glaze and paired with crispy pancetta risotto.
Taphouse’s specialty is handmade crushes, made to order with flavored vodka, triple sec, fresh-squeezed juice and Sprite. Flavors include orange, grapefruit and peach.