Custom Smash Burger with Hefeweizen from local brewery, 1623 Brewing Co. (above)
story and photography by Nikola Tzenov
Island Green Evolves Into a Tasty Oasis
When you think of Island Green, you probably think mini golf and driving range, not delicious dining, full-bar service and live music. But think again. Island Green, located just outside Westminster off Route 140, has been a destination for golf lovers of every caliber since it opened in 2002, but in 2018 things began to evolve with the addition of a full bar and wine pub, and the introduction of live music on summer nights.
Around that same time, owner Mike Eikenberg approached Doug Weatherholtz and asked him to provide food during the music nights. It started with bringing in food trucks, but it wasn’t long before Island Green opened as a restaurant itself, with a full liquor bar quick to follow.
With years of experience in food service, Weatherholtz took on the role of both general manager and head chef. The early menu selection was limited, with burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and appetizers, but has since grown to include everything from subs, baskets, tacos, wings, desserts, and even a burger special that changes every week. When I visited, the weekly burger was the Big Country Smash Burger, in honor of Mark “Big Country” Baile, an acoustic country musician who plays at Island Green a few times a year.
Weatherholtz is particularly proud of their smash burger menu, which features some unique choices including the Reuben Burger, Southern Pride, the Bigger Mac, and his personal favorite: Not Your Kids PB&J Burger. And if these sound too adventurous, you can custom-build your own burger. Weatherholtz’s recommendation was a triple burger with thick crispy bacon, layers of melted cheese, and fresh lettuce, onion, tomato, topped off with their house-made Mac sauce. If you’re wondering where the fries are, aside from the baskets and their crab cake sandwich, all items are à la carte. This keeps prices down and lets folks pick and choose the sides they want.
Speaking of their crab cake, this thing is impressive. Lump juicy crab meat cooked to perfection and served with nicely seasoned Chesapeake fries; there’s a reason it was recently voted runner up for best crab cake in the county. Besides that, Island Green was voted as Carroll’s best burger, patio deck dining, and golf course for 2023. It also received honorable mentions for family dining, banquet facility, happy hour, night spot, wait staff, birthday party venue, and hot wings. The dining hall, bars, and outdoor areas are beautiful and reason enough to dine at Island Green. If you feel like having a drink outside, just have a seat at their new full-service outdoor tiki bar, weather permitting.Whether you pair them with a meal or a drink, some of the best menu choices are light fare, and the flavor will not disappoint. The Maple Chesapeake Bacon Lollipops are a great example. Thick cut, seasoned, and maple-glazed, they basically melt in your mouth. Another palate pleaser is the Fried Street Corn Shrimp — breaded fried shrimp covered with a corn and bean salsa and a tangy cilantro lime sauce. The textures and flavors combine in a way that’s hard to put into words, but if you love shrimp then you have to try it. Finish things off with some funnel cake fries, served with chocolate, strawberry, or caramel dipping sauce.
Weatherholtz loves getting creative and lets his team come up with unique options. “If it’s a hit with the guests, it just might go on the menu,” he said. For instance, the Flaming Chee Dog is one of the wildest choices: a certified Angus beef dog, split-cooked, stuffed with French fries, smothered in queso, sprinkled with bacon crumbles, crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos, and finished off with a drizzle of chipotle ranch, all nestled inside a toasted bun. All those crunchy toppings beautifully complement the gooey cheese and juicy beef; just be sure to ask for some extra napkins with this thing.
Pick a day with nice weather and visit Island Green to work up an appetite with their 18-hole mini golf course, driving range, or corn hole. Then enjoy an impressive selection of delicious food, great drinks, and live music every Friday and Saturday night. If you want to have an event or party, they also offer suites for rent which come with several amenities and perks. Weatherholtz says that during the summer, music nights often extend into other days of the week, and that some of the big name bands on Saturday nights can draw such a crowd that they have to sell tickets to ensure guest numbers stay within the fire code. Be sure to call ahead or visit them online (IslandGreen Westminster.com) for more details, full menu, and hours of operation.
Fried Corn Street Shrimp, Island Green’s Bar area, Funnel Cake Fries, Ike’s Tiki Bar, Patio and Outside Dining area.