912 Bay Ridge Road
Annapolis, MD 21403
When to Enjoy: Open 7 days a week: 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. weekdays and until 9:30 p.m. on weekends.
Expect to Pay: Starters/salads: $4-15
Wine: Bottles $16-36, Glasses $4-9
“We targeted the Artichoke and Crab Crostini-perfect jumbo lump and artichokes laced in a three-cheese blend atop baguette slices, then baked and finished with a touch of saffron-flavored tapenade topping. It was zesty and delicious.”-Gilles Syglowski
Servicing the Baltimore-Washington area for more than 25 years, The Main Ingredient has deservedly earned a fine reputation. We visited the Café on Bay Ridge Road one evening and got a taste of the buzz.
The career of Michelle O’Brien, president, began in 1980 when the doors of Little Capers opened. Michelle is renowned for her desserts such as Chocolate Decadence, Derby pie, and the “original” pumpkin muffin. Since then, she has been at the helm of Capers, Truffles and The Main Ingredient. Her creative ideas, business savvy, and love for chocolate influence every part of The Main Ingredient. Chrissie Chomo, Michelle’s daughter, joined The Main Ingredient in 1995. Chrissie put her heart and soul into The Main Ingredient Café, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. Her creative flair brought The Main Ingredient Catering and Café to the forefront in the community.
Evie Loftus began catering with Michelle at Truffles in 1987. After college, she joined The Main Ingredient, and with Michelle as her mentor, she quickly assimilated all aspects of the business. Evie’s knowledge of catering and attention to detail has been instrumental in growing the sales department from Evie and Michelle to a team of 10 professional, enthusiastic catering consultants. Evie joined Michelle and Chrissie as a partner in 2003.
In 2004, The Main Ingredient merged with “About Thyme,” an Annapolis catering firm that shared the same mission as The Main Ingredient. Jenny Francis, an About Thyme owner, became a partner, complementing its sales team with her exuberance and extensive culinary knowledge. Born and raised in Annapolis, Jenny has been catering for 13 years and is a true baker at heart!
The Main Ingredient is quite welcoming, with a casual refreshing feel—cozy and pleasant. The light blue tones and cute coffee cups filled with flowers put a nice touch on the tables. Sarah, our waitress, made us feel right at home. The menu is quite extensive and features breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most of the items are available on the catering menu.
As we watched the diners at the nearby table, their soups got our attention, so we ordered two of them. The soups are daily specials. We tried the Southwestern Shrimp Bisque ($5), which was of a rich consistency with traditional southwestern flavors, well garnished with shrimp. It was excellent. The Hungarian Mushroom Soup ($4) was rich as well, and I especially enjoyed the wonderful mushroom aroma and taste. We then shared a Café Salad ($11). The salad menu is quite a menu by itself. Each of them sounds scrumptious, and ours was especially large. Sarah was nice to let us order two toppings, a brandied peppercorn chicken and a smoked chilled apple wood salmon. Served atop mixed greens, pear slivers, Gorgonzola cheese, and candied pecans, it was tossed with a maple champagne vinaigrette. So it was lots of fun to eat! A smaller version of this salad is available and is the house signature.
Of course we had to try an appetizer, so we targeted the Artichoke and Crab Crostini ($11)—perfect jumbo lump and artichokes laced in a three-cheese blend atop baguette slices, then baked and finished with a touch of saffron-flavored tapenade topping. It was zesty and delicious.
We let Sarah guide us in the decision for our entrees, and the South County Bouillabaisse ($24) came highly recommended. Rich in seafood variety—scallops, shrimp, crab, and rockfish—and all simmered in a powerful and tasty broth, it was garnished with fresh vegetables, very rustic and hearty. Our other entrée was a more down-to-earth dish but just as well prepared and tasty. The Pasta Morisi ($18) consisted of fusilli pasta sautéed with prosciutto ham, Italian sausage, and green peas in a red pepper Alfredo sauce: Simply delicious. We could not resist the dessert tray, and ordered two generous and delicious slices of cheesecake with Amaretto ($5.95 each).
The wine list with affordable choices is not pretentious and can satisfy everyone’s taste, which meets the restaurant’s design to offer locals a nice dinner at a modest price. You can easily do this. Whether you decide to do a complete four- or five-course dinner, which is way more than you can actually eat, or a simple soup and salad dinner, you will be very pleased. Portions are generous, well presented, and from our experience, enjoyable. We even had enough for dinner the next day. Chef Geoff Williams is at the helm of the Café and does a fantastic job. Thanks, Chef, for our nice little dining adventure.