Address: 13200 Dowell Road, Dowell, MD 20629
Before moving down to southern Maryland, I had read about the Ruddy Duck Brewery and Grill, a restaurant that diners in the area praised for its house-brewed beers, casual atmosphere, and delicious food. My friends Mike and Tina also frequented the restaurant quite often, and echoed the same comments that I had read about the restaurant. So, one weekend afternoon, I decided it was time to head across the Route 4 bridge and try the place.
Walking in, you’re greeted by a spacious dining room, an open kitchen with wood-fired oven along the right side, and an open window with full view of their brew kettle. The decor is certainly inspired by a “boat dock” theme, with wooden tables and some boating memorabilia (such as a ship wheel and fishing net) hanging up on the wall. I went with my friend Tina for lunch and we were seated almost immediately; in contrast, another instance when I stopped by for dinner on the weekend the place was absolutely packed.
Ruddy Duck’s menu offers a wide variety of options to choose from: sandwiches to pizza, salads to pasta, seafood to steaks. Mike and Tina had both spoken highly about their pizzas, so I went with the Popeye’s Pie, topped with spinach, goat cheese, and tomato sauce. Tina had the Italian Three-Cheese Panini with chicken (which I tried later, and it was absolutely amazing). I got excited at the prospect of having wood-fired pizza again, since I think the cooking method definitely gives the pizza a different quality than the conventional oven cooking style.
The food arrived pretty quickly, and the smells coming from the open kitchen only increased your appetite even more. The pizza itself was good: the crust was thin and “fluffy,” having the slight crisp on the outside but keeping soft at the same time. I always enjoy the combination of spinach and goat cheese due to the goat cheese’s slightly salty taste. The tomato sauce, however, was just a little too plain for my tastes; I think adding just a bit of salt or sugar would have helped to differentiate it a bit from the other ingredients. But as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the pizza, promptly inhaling the entire 12″ pie.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t elaborate on the panini. Coupled with tomato slices and a basil pesto spread, the chicken and cheese comes together for a very satisfying and hearty combination. The bread’s crispiness does well to contrast with all the soft ingredients of the sandwich. The fries that they serve with the sandwich are spot-on as well, having that crispy outside, soft inside, and seasoned with just enough salt.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience at the Ruddy Duck, from both the food and atmosphere perspective. With the wide food and drink selection, I certainly look forward to taking return visits to try the other things on the menu.
Let’s now take a look at the Ruddy Duck Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
Tomato sauce and a three-cheese blend, topped with spinach and goat cheese.
** Italian Three-Cheese Panini **
Melted mozzarella, Swiss, and provolone cheese with added tomatoes and basil pesto.
This item is now off the menu, but can still be special requested.
** Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich **
Grilled chicken breast topped with bacon, pesto, and melted mozzarella cheese, served on foccacia bread.
And finally, here are my rankings for Ruddy Duck:
Food: 4.75 / 5
Great selection of food, and the quality was consistent between my two visits. Both dishes’ ingredients also tasted very fresh.
Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5
The restaurant certainly establishes the “casual brewpub” ambiance, where you could walk in with a T-shirt and sneakers, but a button-down and jeans wouldn’t look out of place either. The type of food and drinks being served matches well with the relaxed atmosphere of the dining room.
Service: 4.25 / 5
I’d say that the service was pretty average: the waitstaff came to take orders, brought out the food, and followed up a few times to make sure we were okay on drinks. I did notice, however, that despite the visit when the entire place was packed and busy, the waitstaff was still consistently around the tables if you needed to ask for something.
Price: 4.25 / 5
The food was priced pretty well and I felt like the portions were well-sized to match. Both times I left the restaurant feeling pretty full.