A Hidden Treasure in Severna Park
By Christine Fillat | Photography by Elizabeth Schaeffer
Café Bretton is a special getaway in Severna Park. Located on the long, meandering back road that links Baltimore and Annapolis, the cafe is a French country-style house where starched white cloths adorn the tables, paintings decorate the walls, and Frank Sinatra croons from the speakers. Affable Victor Ledezma greets us at the door. Ledezma wears many hats, including owner and chef. He is the heart and soul of Café Bretton.
While he is from Bolivia, Ledezma has worked with many cuisines while jockeying sauté pans in different restaurants from Florida to Maryland. At Da Mimmo in Baltimore’s Little Italy, he learned Italian techniques. “I pick up things from here and there, and then I make my own version,” he said. “You experiment, you try, you taste it and get feedback from customers.”
Two small bowls—one filled with soft butter, the other with tapenade—grace the table, a treat to spread on slices of crusty bread. The garlicy tapenade, while a welcome idea, tasted dull and could have used some freshening up.
We start the meal with house-made pâté and a bowl of escargot. The pâté is inspired: creamy, light and quite flavorful, served with cornichon and dijon mustard. The escargot is presented sans shells with a rich garlicy thyme wine sauce. While the snails are flavorful, the garlic sauce could use a little brightening up with some other element, perhaps something like parsley.
Three salads are very good. The Caesar, with its creamy namesake dressing, is perfection. The Café salad has a lovely champagne vinaigrette and is studded with bits of gorgonzola. Spinach salad with hearts of palm, tomato, champagne vinaigrette and avocado. All the salads are deftly prepared with crunchy greens and just the right amount of dressing.
The entrees we choose are all-stars, individually distinctive in their preparations. Cartoccio, a special on the menu, is an Italian seafood stew. It is a bounty of mussels, clams, scallops and generous pieces of halibut. A white wine sauce ties it all together. The bowl is fresh and flavorful, and spoonfuls of the stew are hot well into the meal. While cartoccio is traditionally made in a paper wrapper, Ledezma prepares it in a sealed stew pot. “It keeps the flavor in the pot,” he says. We will not quibble with subtleties; the dish is superb.
One member of our party is a frequent guest at Café Bretton. Her dish of choice is the steak au poivre, a generous two-inch-thick strip steak cooked to perfection. It’s doused with pepper and sits atop a brandy, cream and dijon sauce. This is steak au poivre at its finest. It’s tender. It’s a symphony of flavors. My dining companion salivates when she thinks about Café Bretton’s steak au poivre. In fact, try as she might, she cannot bring herself to try any other dish when she eats here. Try it and you will agree.
Beef Bourguignon is French soul food, with tender chunks of beef, mushrooms and a rich wine sauce. A special on the menu, this is truly sublime—comfort food at its best.
All the entrees come with a side of mashed potatoes and ratatouille.
The desserts are from Café Poupon in Baltimore. The caramel napoleon satisfied our sweet tooth in many ways. The chocolate ombre cake, however, was beautiful to look at with its many layers but too dry to enjoy.
In all, Café Bretton is a lovely place to spend an evening. The decor is charming and quaint. A steady flow of customers filled the tables the night we were there. This is the sort of place that has a loyal clientele. One could imagine spending many evenings in its embrace.
Christine Fillat lives on the Magothy River and is an aficionado of Chesapeake Bay cooking and living.
849 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd.,
Severna Park, MD 21146
cafe-bretton.com | 410.647.8222
Tues–Thurs, 5:00 PM–9:00 PM
Fri & Sat, 5:00 PM–10:00 PM
Sun, 4:00 PM–8:00 PM
Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 9, No. 6 2018