Photo by  Michael Wootton


The early bird itself is a great catch
at the Yacht Club in Chesapeake City, Md.


By J. V. Reistrup, January 2008

You don't have to be a member or guest to visit the Yacht Club --not this one. This grandly named but modest restaurant in the grandly named but tiny Chesapeake City offers special meals at moderate prices to anybody who walks in.

So on a recent Sunday visit to town, my wife Cathe and I decided to turn our backs on the tourists examining pricier menus in the windows of restaurants on the south side of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, all with their views of the waterfront. Instead we ambled a couple of blocks up the hill past antiques shops (like Almost History, Toys from the Attic & More, and Tattered Treasures) to a storefront with two oars in the window and a blue and white painting of a sailboat over the door. This was the Yacht Club. Inside, the decor and mementos surrounding the dozen tables were nautical too.

On Sundays the Yacht Club serves a breakfast buffet from 8 a.m. to noon and an Early Bird Special from noon to 5 p.m. That was perfect for us late-lunchers, and we were quickly led to a table filled with light from the windows. After serving us large glasses of ice water, our waitress asked for our choice among the Early Bird Specials of the day: crab imperial, grilled chicken, Atlantic salmon, mussels, shrimp and crab Alfredo, "lollipop lamb chops" and duck medallions. Coffee, tea or soda was included in the set price.

When asked why the lamb chops were so oddly named, the waitress explained the meat was cut away from the top of the bone, leaving the bone clean to pick up with your fingers and eat the meat like a lollipop. Cathe chose the lamb chops; I chose the Atlantic salmon.

While our choices were being prepared, we were served tasty garden salads and homemade breadsticks. We passed up the offer of a crock of crab and corn chowder or French onion soup for another $4, but the couple at the next table told us they had tried the chowder and found it delicious. They said they often drove down from Philadelphia on a Sunday morning to browse the antiques shops and then enjoy the Yacht Club's Early Bird Special.

The lamb chops were excellent. They were medium rare, just as Cathe had ordered, and served with sauteed carrots and a brown Bordelaise sauce one could expect from an expensive five-star French restaurant. My poached salmon was moist and served with steamed asparagus and a not-too-heavy cream sauce made with fresh dill. Both dishes came with freshly made mashed potatoes, delicately seasoned with roasted garlic. Dessert was included in the set price too, although by the time we arrived all that was left were raspberry sorbet and vanilla ice cream served with a delicious coconut cookie. 

The restaurant makes its own desserts, which ordinarily include, in addition to ice cream and sorbets: carrot cake, bread pudding, New York style cheesecake and, during winter months, caramelized apples. The regular dinner menu offers a wide range of choices, from Chicken Chesapeake (boneless, skinless chicken breast with lump crab, a light cream sauce and Old Bay seasoning) to Filet Chesapeake, a filet mignon with lump crab and hollandaise sauce. The Sunday breakfast buffet offers scrambled eggs, roasted red potatoes, sausage, bacon, French toast, fresh fruit, muffins and cream chipped beef with orange juice and coffee.

The Yacht Club's owners, Gary Klunk and Cheri Wilson, opened the restaurant a few years ago in what had been a long-closed hardware store. Our waitress told us the owners' goal was to offer innovative fine food at such reasonable prices that the locals would eat there regularly. They do, and we can see why.

The Yacht Club Restaurant is located at 225 Bohemia Ave., Chesapeake City, Md., a couple of blocks west of the anchorage basin. It is open for dinner Tuesday- Thursday, 3-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 3-10 p.m., and Sunday, 3-7 p.m. Appetizers $7-$14; soups $6-$9; dinner salads $6-$20; entrees $15-$33; Sunday buffet brunch, 8 a.m.-noon, $10; Early Bird Special, noon-5 p.m., $11.95. Mastercard and Visa accepted. 410-885-2267; www.yachtclubrestaurant.com.

[01.08 issue]