Adventurous Dining in
the Space Age
(Behind Saunders Florist)
Soups: $7 to $12
(Plus the starter sampler at $20)
$17 to $26
All major credit cards accepted.
Tue. - Thu.: 5 to 9 p.m.
Fri. and Sat.: 5 to 10 p.m.
Sun.: 5 to 9 p.m.
Five decades ago, world powers, including
the superpower Unites States, were lulled into a laid back state of
“let’s see what happens next” in the world of space exploration.
Then there was a quiet countdown in Russia–on October 4, 1957 the
USSR launched Sputnik into orbit. The space race was on!
can relive the energy generated by that historic era by landing on
Sputnik Café for a meteoric meal. It’s almost a stealth restaurant,
because it’s located next to and behind Saunders Florist on
General’s Highway. But you may be able to spot a new Sputnik sign by
the time you read this issue of Inside Annapolis
Just four miles north of Parole, on the East side of
General’s Highway, is one of the best-kept-secrets in the Annapolis
area, Sputnik Café. The innovative eatery features a menu that
brings touches from the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, France,
Portugal and Mexico.
Although the original Sputnik space
explorer was not more than the size of a basketball with some
protruding signal probes, the art deco chandelier in the main room
of the restaurant makes a space era statement—it’s really more
reflective of a giant shooting star, and also the centerpiece of an
eatery that exudes futuristic energy found in its décor and menu
Appetizers that were tasted on two dinner
occasions by a total of six diners included Thai lettuce
wraps—Romaine lettuce filled with chicken braised in Asian spices,
bean sprouts, cilantro and chopped peanuts. This proved to be a
light and gently spiced combination as well as a prudent beginning
on a menu loaded with spices from mild to hot. Chicken and shrimp
lumpia rolls, a Philippine delicacy, were spicier and, since some of
us enjoyed hot and spicy more than others, we requested that the
chef put extra spicy sauces on the side. The excellent servers know
which are the more explosive sauces.
The salmon tempura
called for nori rolls filled with salmon, asparagus, shiso leaves
and served with a julienne vegetable salad that was delicious. The
Korean BBQ Kobe beef was tasty and tender and was served on an
innovative buckwheat noodle salad. We appreciated the side sauces
when the fiery quotient went up. The asparagus bisque was a smooth
coriander cream with shrimp, onion, carrots and ginger, garnished
with a sea scallop.
The above choices were items in the
Sputnik three-course menu of $30 dollars total that included choices
from five starters and five main courses. We found this to be good
value for the cost and an excellent beginning for the first time
diner at this little gem of a fusion restaurant. A selection from
four house-made desserts was also part of the package. We ordered
all four—key lime cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake, creme brulée
and cappuccino cake. The favorite among all four diners on that
occasion was the key lime cheesecake.
On another visit, I
would recommend, from the starter menu, the Sputnik starter sampler
that includes the Kobe beef, Thai lettuce wrap, lumpia rolls and
seared tuna salad—all for $20.
Our entrées included the panko
encrusted sea scallops that were crispy on the outside and
lusciously tender on the inside, decidedly another favorite. The
pan-seared Tasmanian salmon was rectangular shaped sitting on a bed
of bulgur wheat salad and asparagus, and as requested had the smoky
tomato coulis at its side. It was voted an extraordinary piece of
salmon that was cooked to perfection. We learned that it is
regularly flown in from Hawaii. The Asian-spiced prime rib eye steak
was rare, as ordered, and just right, along with tempura battered
onions and green curry butter. The Caribbean-spiced organic chicken
breast was tender and moist, and was milder in the spice department
than the other selections.
In the midst of all this taste
sensation, we were definitely aware of the atmosphere. The ‘50s
decor and classic retro pieces are fun and futuristic with
surprising treats such as the orange and gray plastic Oh chairs from
cutting edge designer Karim Rashid. Orange string room dividers set
aside areas that seat a total of 50 people. A semi-wall inset with a
modern sculpted glass panel divides a table for ten from the main
dining room. Large art pieces reminiscent of Andy Warhol and Georgia
O’Keefe are carefully placed at the entrance, on the dining room
walls and in the adjacent sculpture garden where 20 additional
guests may be seated.
The three proprietors, Bill and Maria
Buszinski and David Brown, each wear many hats since they are
artists, cooks and business managers. The trio has created something
different from the crowd. Bill serves as the oenologist and takes
wine lovers on a virtual global experience to boutique wineries in
his effort to provide “the best wine list of quality and value in
the area.” Sputnik cocktails are high-quality concoctions embracing
a spectrum of martinis as well as margueritas, mohitos and more. The
beer list offers several dozen brands, primarily from Belgium, with
other specialties from Germany, England, Scotland, the USA and other
ports of call. In all, it’s a trip!