DelMarVa’s Southern Café, the new “fast-casual” restaurant on Boston Street, looks like a homey cafe with its shelves of canning jars near the entrance. Then you realize the menu is mounted to the wall, and orders are placed at the counter, fast-food style. Not that it matters. Friendly servers take over from there. The Canton spot, in the rustic, repurposed Broom factory building, is the first in a mini-chain. (The other three are in Virginia.) The concept offers cuisine from the Delmarva region, specifically the peninsula that defines the Chesapeake Bay, and even local beverages like Boordy wine and Dogfish Head beer. The Southern-inspired menu is heavy on comfort, like mac ’n’ cheese, shrimp and grits, and buttermilk-fried-chicken tenders. The “baked cheese skillets” with pasta—plain, or with crab and shrimp, bacon and avocado, or chicken tenders—arrive in hot iron fry pans, crusty around the edges with just the right proportion of cheese.
The burger, five juicy ounces of Roseda beef, comes topped with avocado and Swiss, or Virginia ham and Gruyère, and sides include a choice of fried onion straws, fried hand-cut potatoes, french fries, or the highly addictive fried pickle chips with a side of ranch for dipping. The crab cake served simply on a brioche roll with lettuce and tomato (also available as a dinner platter) is a hearty patty, with minimal filler.
Other options include a brief salad list with items like a Southern cobb with bacon, blue cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette, and a chopped Asian salad with bok choy and red cabbage mixed with cilantro, mandarin oranges, and cucumbers, topped with crunchy chow-mein noodles.
There’s an all-day breakfast menu of biscuit sandwiches, waffles, and the like, as well as a weekend brunch with several variations on eggs Benedict.
For now, the dessert selection is minimal, relying mainly on breakfast pastries like muffins and oozy cinnamon rolls. The place is still a work in progress, says Paul Stratmeyer, who grew up in Parkville and co-owns the restaurants with Dave Levitt. But, he says, diners should look for a “grunt”—a sweet biscuit-and-fruit concoction so named for the noise it makes as it settles in the fry pan.