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Heading to Elkton This Weekend

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G'day Chowing Community,

The wife and I are heading to Elkton this weekend. We are considering going the Green Dragon friday and then stopping in Lancaster for lunch (Conestoga perhaps--I know wrong board). Then we are coming back down to Elkton, MD. I have found quite a few places, but wanted to narrow down the dinner options for one and two try to solicit some good breakfast and lunch places. I am a huge fan of anything made from scratch, dives are a favorite. For example Hank's place looks great, but a bit far. Are there other options like that? Country dives? BBQ? Breakfast counters, etc, in the area.

As far as dinners are concerned I have the following list:

Fair Hill Inn
Stone Balloon
Foxfire at Stonebarn. (Kinda far, but good CH review, any second opinions?)
Domain Hudson
Restaurante Nonna

I have two dinners and a possible brunch beside the couple lunches/breakfasts. Are there any stand outs above? Have I missed anything in the area? I prefer locally sourced, farm to table, etc, but am also fine skipping that stuff if there is an excellent meal available that is made with passion and heart.

Thanks very much.

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  1. You seem to be willing to drive pretty far from Elkton for dinner. Fair Hill Inn, the only restaurant on your list that is actually located within spitting distance of Elkton, gets good reviews, although I haven't been there myself. It's the only one besides Foxfire that touts its "farm-to-table" credentials, although looking at the menu, I question that a bit.

    I would not go too far out of my way to eat at Stone Balloon--it's not bad, but not a destination place IMO. Same goes for Nonna. If you are OK with driving to Wilmington, Domaine Hudson is a very good choice, as is Vinoteca; both have charms that are worth the 30-minute drive. I and others have reviewed them on this board, so please do a search. Prince on Delaware, in New Castle, is also worth a drive, although it can hit some wrong notes (again, do a search for the review). Sovana Bistro in Kennett Square is another very good dinner option ("farm-to-table" is the first thing you see on their website, in fact).

    Hank's is very good but if you are there on a weekend, be prepared to deal with an annoying wait. There is no list and you basically just have to stand in a crush of people at the door, fighting for the tables that free up. There are other good options for breakfast. If you are thinking of driving to Chadds Ford, why not stop on the way in Kennett Square and hit Talula's Table? This is about as good as made from scratch gets. The Brandywine Valley area is very pleasant sightseeing as well, if you are doing that.

    I'm sure there are fine breakfast options right in Elkton itself, but I don't get down that way and have nothing to recommend. Hopefully others will.

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    Fair Hill Inn
    3370 Singerly Rd, Elkton, MD 21921

    3 Replies
    1. re: travelmad478

      Ooh. I just looked at Talula's Table. This will make the whole trip worth it. I am a huge artisan cheese geek. Have you ever done the private after hours seating there?

      1. re: sekelmaan

        Yes, I have--once, booked a year in advance by a very forward-thinking friend of mine. I think we have reservations for another dinner there sometime in August (!!). The meal was really, really good. If you are very lucky, there will be a cancellation while you are there--check their website, as they post open slots in the "Farm Table Dinners" section. In fact there is a cancellation for this Sunday. I wish I could go!

        1. re: sekelmaan

          I've also done their dinner. Like travelmad, our reservations were made exactly one year in advance, and it was soooooo worth it! It was a very special evening -- extraordinary, really.

          But Talula's table is also wonderful during the daytime. I often meet friends there for coffee or lunch. Their cheese selection is incredible, and the folks who work there are very knowledgeable about the cheeses and their places of origin. If your timing is good, you'll get to chat with Aimee Olexy about her favorites. Just so you know, Talula's is BYO (no corkage fee) and you can certainly bring a bottle to pair up with a cheese plate. Add a loaf of their freshly-baked bread and you've got a delightful lunch.

          And then, as long as you're in Kennett Square, spend the afternoon taking in the local sights, and then head to either the Stone Barn (BYO only; no corkage fee) or Sovana Bistro for dinner (BYO permitted; $8 corkage). Both require reservations.

      2. As usual Travelmad and I are in agreement. Stone Balloon can be skipped over without thought. I work very close to the Maryland State Line and there is a little BBQ gem that I adore called Durhams. It is a take out place though so perhaps a good option for lunch. ( there are tables but they're in the parking lot, and it's January, brrrrrr.) Everything they make is incredible, but I love the ribs.

        As for breakfast down that way, Newark is probably your best bet. There's a spot called Sinclaires on Main Street that has a good breakfast menu with creative takes on pancakes and benedicts. I love their lattes and cappuccinos too.

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        Durham's Best Barbeque Carry
        90 Fletchwood Rd, Elkton, MD 21921

        Sinclairs Cafe Ltd
        177 E Main St, Newark, DE 19711

        1 Reply
        1. re: in bocca

          I like Durham BBQ also--I thought of recommending it but wasn't sure they're open in winter. It is definitely worth heading over there to check. Take-out only, unless you want to sit at a picnic table in the snow!

        2. Of all of them Fair Hill is the best, I think, and is closest to Elkton.

          1. Thanks for the pointers. Definitely adding the BBQ joint and removing Stone Balloon. Will be touring around and possibly going to hit the Brandywine Valley.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sekelmaan

              Re: Brandywine Valley rec's -- Simon Pearce for brunch (beautiful glassware shop and you can watch the glass blowers work a bit -- nice bonus). Brandywine Bistro, across from the Brandywine River Museum. And I love the mushroom soup and cornbread at Longwood's cafe. Definitely Sovana. Pizza by Elizabeth's might be on your route if you come up 52 from Wilmington. Enjoy!

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              Pizza by Elizabeths
              4019 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807

            2. So, just got back. Friday night we did Domain Hudson as Fair Hill Inn was closed for the weekend. We had the six course tasting. Courses included skate wings stuffed with crabmeat, filet with foie gras and fig risotta, veal cheeks with fried onions and a cheese course. Every course was outstanding. The veal cheeks were one of the best pieces of meat I have had in a long time. Cheeses were very good too. Great server to top it off.

              Talula's Table for lunch the next day. Excellent and knowledgable cheese geek who picked four perfect cheeses (strangely three of them were on my list as i perused the case). We had a cheese board. Outstanding.

              Dinner was Durhams BBQ. Excellent brisquet, but be sure to request them to leave the fat on and slice it or they remove it and chop it. Very good ribs. Nice sauces. Good keilbasa. Also excellent smoked turkey breast which I would have never bothered trying, but the owner repeatedly told it was her favorite. After much hemming on it, she gave us a sample and it was moist and delicious, I was surprised to say the least.

              If you are ever in Lancaster, btw, do not go to Conestoga's. It was dreadful. Staff was nice, chef even came out and chatted, but the food was inedible.

              Thanks again for the recommendations in your beautiful area. We loved everything you suggested. Thinking of going back for the mushroom festival in beginning of June.

              Best regards,

              -C & M.

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              Fair Hill Inn
              3370 Singerly Rd, Elkton, MD 21921

              9 Replies
              1. re: sekelmaan

                Glad you had fun. There may be a day around then that local wineries have a drive-around as well. Wine is just OK but its a lot of fun. And you get to eat a lot of local artisan-type (I hate that word) food.

                1. re: sekelmaan

                  If I'm not mistaken, the Mushroom Festival takes place in early September. Come in June; then come back again in September for the M'room Fest. There's plenty going on here to keep you happy during the nice weather months.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    You know.... I thought that was the case. But there is some springtime thing too. Isn't there?

                    1. re: gfweb1

                      Maybe it's the June Beer Fest you're thinking about? http://www.historickennettsquare.com/...

                    2. re: CindyJ

                      Hmm. We were told it was the weekend after memorial day, but it could have been labour day, I get them confused. I do recall thinking June was early.

                      Here we go, Sept 9-11:

                      http://www.mushroomfestival.org/

                      1. re: sekelmaan

                        To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the Mushroom Festival--there's nothing you can get at the festival that's any different/better than what you can eat in Kennett at any other time. It's just a crowded mess with a lot of people selling the usual street fair junk. I really like Kennett and live 10 minutes away, but I stay out of town on Mushroom Festival weekend. Go on a warm summer weekend and make sure to get ice cream at La Michoacana!

                        1. re: travelmad478

                          I pretty much agree with you, travelmad. I also live about 10 minutes from Kennett. I love the little town, and I find myself there for one reason or another (library, post office, coffee, lunch, etc.) several times a week, but I've only been to the M'room Fest once; no compelling need to do it again. La Michoacana is ALWAYS a treat, though.

                          1. re: travelmad478

                            I agree too. I live 12.5 minutes away ;-) and avoid KS during the Mushroom Fest. Crowded PITA.

                            In the restaurant list I forgot The Farmhouse in Avondale. It is pretty far from Elkton though

                          2. re: sekelmaan

                            Or maybe stop by Great Harvest Bread store at 4154 Ogletown Stanton Rd (rt 4), Newark, DE or 110 South Union Street, Kennett Square, PA

                      2. Out of curiousity, what do you all think about Sovana Bistro? Our waiter at Domaine Hudson said it was great.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sekelmaan

                          I've had good and mediocre meals there. In general I don't get the excitement about the place.

                          In that general area I Iike Gilmore's and the Farmhouse much more. Or Katheryn's (however you spell it) in Unionville

                          1. re: sekelmaan

                            I really love Sovana Bistro. I think the food is always nicely prepared and presented, and the service is quite good. I also love the "energy" in the place. I was there for dinner just this past Saturday evening. My husband and I shared an antipasto that was really delicious. For my entree, I was curious about what the woman at the next table was having that looked so good, and, with table seating being as close as it is, I asked her. She told me it was the crispy chicken and that it was delicious. Now, I rarely order chicken when I'm dining out. To me, chicken is chicken, no matter how it's prepared. But I ordered it on her recommendation, and I've got to say, that might have been the best chicken I've ever eaten. I don't know -- maybe I was just super-hungry, but it was sooooo good!

                            Sovana Bistro is probably the closest restaurant to where I live, and I'm there several times a month. I'll probably be there again on Thursday with a friend. Sometimes it's just for a shared salad and one of their gourmet pizzas; sometimes it's for a complete dinner. I don't think I've ever been disappointed there.