2017 marks the 13th year that I’ve lived in Annapolis. Although I’m a transplant, I’ve become quite attached to this town. Over the years, so much has changed. More developments, condos, and retail spaces have sprung up in this city thanks to a population growth spurt.
Best of all, Annapolis’s food scene has been blossoming. Personally, I feel as if we’re experiencing some sort of food renaissance making this town quite the foodie-haven these days.
We now have restaurants that put Annapolis on the map like Vin 909, Dry 85, Soul, and so much more. On top of these awesome restaurants, Annapolis has added more food and wine centered festivals like the Bar-Bay-Q, Kegs & Corks Fest, and the Annapolis Arts & Wine Festivals. Each time I go to these events, there is no doubt that Annapolis is attracting more and more locals and tourists alike every year.
As an “Annapolitan” food blogger, these changes inspired me to begin this series. In the future, I hope these little guides will help those living in and around the Annapolis area explore and enjoy what this gem of a town has to offer.
For my first post in the series, I’ll be talking about the restaurant, Soul. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to meet Chef Dave Pow, his wife Misti, and their sommelier, Trevor for some intel.
First, here’s a summary of the restaurant:
Chef/Owner: Dave Pow
Date established: December 2016
Location: 509 South Cherry Grove Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401
Cuisine: U.S. Regional, Southern
Concept: Small plates
Brunch (weekends): $3-$15
Seats: ~50 (bar, dining room, outside terrace)
Decor: Contemporary farmhouse
Dietary options: Omnivore, Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Catering availability: Yes, but limited
It’s a great place to go when…
- You want a little “me-time” at the bar with a cocktail and some nibbles.
- You want to have fun trying different menu items with a crowd.
Most popular cocktails:
- Highway 61
- Sunset Bayou
Most popular food items:
- Shrimp & Pesto Flatbread
- Pepperoni Flatbread
- Shrimp & Grits
- Macaroni & Cheese
- Blacked Salmon
- Littleneck Clams
- Sunset Bayou
- Comfortably Numb (seasonal)
- Cornmeal Hushpuppies
- Fried pickles, olives, and cornichons
- Littleneck Clams
- Fried Green Tomatoes
Ambiance: Tucked away from downtown Annapolis off of Forest Drive, Soul is a cozy neighborhood hangout. It has a clean, contemporary farmhouse feel, laid-back restaurant staff, and a welcoming, casual vibe. It is situated in a very small shopping center next to a gas station. But don’t let that deter you. You’re in for a nice surprise.
Before the restaurant opened, it was originally a Five Guys location. Misti found this space while going to her dentists’ office next door. Together, Chef Dave and Misti designed the restaurant with a local friend/interior designer. The copper counter at the bar is my favorite feature of the restaurant. The bar is completely detached from the dining room in the back. I find that this split diffuses a lot of background noise and creates more intimacy when dining with others in either space.
Concept: Soul serves small plates. Their mission is to use as many local ingredients as possible. There is a small herb garden on their terrace. Misti shared that Chef Dave is at the Annapolis farmer’s market multiple times a week. He works with a local butcher and plans to develop a local food co-op in the future as well. On occasion, they will do some catering events.
About the Chef: Originally from Massachusetts, Chef Dave has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. He has had experience working in sales production management prior to becoming a chef. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York City to follow his passion for cooking.
Soon after, Chef Dave moved to Tennessee and learned about the soulful flavors of the American South for 13 years. After some convincing from his friend from Culinary School, the renown Chef Geoff of Washington D.C., they worked for several years together. Ultimately, Chef Dave opened his first restaurant, the Blue Rooster in Cape St. Clair, soon followed by Soul.
At home, Chef Dave enjoys cooking simple Italian classics like pasta and pizza; favorites of his daughter. When asked how he comes up Soul’s menu, Chef Dave commented that this often happens at home or alongside his sous chef, Nick at the restaurant.
Here are the full details on what I had in my visits to the restaurants over time:
Without a doubt, Soul is absolutely serious about their cocktails. They are excellently crafted. What I love most about them are the bright bold flavors that each cocktail has.
If you get a chance to talk to Soul’s sommelier, Trevor, you’re in for a real treat. He is the genius behind their cocktail menu, beer, and wine list. While there, Trevor gave me a lesson on an Italian digestif called Amaro. Whatever else you want to know? Ask him. He is super friendly and you can see the passion he has in what he does. Soul has a local beer list as well. As I recall, they do not have as many local Maryland wine options as they do foreign or non-Maryland ones.
The Sunset Bayou is a bright, citrusy cocktail. I’m so sorry I forgot to take note of what’s in it. I was having too much fun. I’ll make an edit in the future to include this at a later date. It’s delicious. I say just go get one!
I’m not much of a fan of gin, but Comfortably Numb was so refreshing in the summer heat. In addition, I’m averse to overly sweetened cocktails. Not to worry, this cocktail was not. I was mesmerized by this ruby red hue. Who knew raspberry and lime was such a lovely combination?
Here is the Highway 61, a mix of bourbon, lime juice, and house-made ginger syrup. Simple. Refreshing. Delicious. Not too sweet. Need I say more?
This was a dish I deeply regret not ordering. It looked soooooo delicious. Chef Dave was kind enough to let me have a bonus shot of it. Everyone say OOOOOOOOO. Mhmmm. YES. Next time, I’ll definitely order it!
Is this not a gorgeous plate? I loved the simple presentation and pop of red from the fresh smoked paprika pasta (made in-house). The little neck clams were cooked to perfection. The white cream sauce was delicate but well seasoned. The basil on top gave off enough fragrance as a garnish, not getting in the way of the rest of the dish. No wonder why it’s so popular. I only wish I had a crusty baguette to sop up the sauce! I wouldn’t share this with anyone.
I tried the summer vegetable tart. The tart consisted of a phyllo dough base, summer vegetables like bell peppers and zucchini, with fontina cheese. Then, it is topped with an arugula salad dressed with a light vinaigrette.
I liked the overall idea of this dish. However, it was not my favorite. To be honest, I think the tart would have been extra special if the crust was a homemade pie crust in place of the phyllo dough. Because the vegetables hold so much water, the phyllo dough was a little soggy at the bottom. But I do understand that phyllo is a tricky pastry to work with, especially since it’s so thin. Since it’s seasonal, I am guessing that’s the phyllo dough is used for a lighter touch as well.
For dessert, I tried the beignets and holy moly was I glad that I tried this. The dough is made in-house. You’ll get a fresh batch of this deep-fried goodness every time. The Highway 61 cocktail was a perfect match with this dessert. It’s smokiness from the bourbon, freshness of the lime and ginger balanced out the richness of the dough. Perfect, perfect, perfect. The portion of this dessert is quite generous too. No shame if you eat the whole plate by yourself!
I’ve been to Soul a total of three times over a one-year period. Each visit was memorable. The service is great, the food has been consistently fresh as it came out from the kitchen, and the ambiance is comfortable and relaxing. Overall, this is a great place to go if you’d like to try familiar foods with a twist. It’s also off the beaten path of downtown Annapolis, which can be a great escape–especially during tourist season!
Lastly, I’d just like to send a million thank-yous to Misti and Chef Dave for such a wonderful opportunity. I really appreciated your time during your busy schedules. I really look forward to seeing you again in the future!
This post is neither sponsored nor paid by Soul. Everything I have eaten there, in the past or for this post, was paid with my own money.
I’m not an expert food critic by any means. My goal is to share my personal experience with you and to spread the word about Annapolis’s food scene. I’m open to any suggestions you may have for any post I make on the blog.
Lastly, please eat local and support Annapolis’s restaurants!
Lots and lots and lots of love,