by Michael Vyskocil, photography by Sarah Walsh

As summer turns to fall, chefs in kitchens across Carroll County are making the seasonal shift a tasty one for their guests. In this issue of Carroll Magazine, we profile three Carroll County establishments serving up dishes highlighting a seafood delight.

Market Tavern: In the Market for Community

Jen Elliott, Owner

The experience of enjoying good food and drink is meant to be shared with others. At the Market Tavern in Sykesville, you can discover an inviting gourmet market and neighborhood bar that puts community at the heart of its customer service.

When owner Jen Elliott moved to Carroll County from Oregon in 2006, she became enamored with Sykesville’s small-town charm. Upon introducing herself to others and getting settled in, she longed for a place that would provide an experience to satisfy her culinary cravings for something unique. That longing lead to the establishment of the Market Tavern.

As you enter the market portion, you’ll be greeted by fresh local cheeses, charcuterie, Salazon salted chocolate, gourmet food items and more. Elliott said she strives to stock the display areas and shelves with the most extraordinary finds any foodie would adore, with an emphasis on promoting local producers as much as possible.

The Market Tavern’s gift baskets are just as extraordinary, she said. “I try to find items to include in the baskets that you can’t find at other places.” With six different themes available, including a Local Favorites option filled with products from Maryland-based businesses, you’ll find gift baskets to suit a variety of tastes.

Speaking of tastes, don’t miss the chance to taste some of the European-style tapas, local beer and Prohibition-style cocktails on the menu, along with the salads, snacks, flatbreads, pizzas and sandwiches.

Prosciutto & Raclette Sandwich

One sandwich standout, the Prosciutto & Raclette, is a treat. Elliott first discovered raclette, a semi-hard cheese, while traveling through Europe. Crafted from Alpine cow’s milk, raclette is shaped into a wheel and served by heating the cheese using a special warming device and scraping the melted bits onto a sandwich or dish. At the Market Tavern, the melted raclette is served on fresh bread topped with slices of prosciutto for a warm, comforting sandwich creation.

That comfort is enhanced by the inviting environment Elliott and her team have created.

“At the Market Tavern, we wanted to create a place where you could come with a friend or meet a new friend, socialize and enjoy some great food and drink,” she said. “I see people of all age groups gathering here.”

Market Tavern

7540 Main St., Sykesville, Md. 21784 | 443-609-6122 |


Brick Ridge: A Heritage of Flavors

Appalachia Duck is part of the Autumn menu at Brick Ridge.

History and heritage are within its walls.

The history part comes from the building’s original use as a one-room schoolhouse. The heritage side comes from honoring Carroll County agriculture by incorporating fresh, local produce into its cuisine. This is Brick Ridge in Mount Airy.

Now under new management, Brick Ridge delivers a welcoming dining place where guests are treated to a mix of classic and contemporary dishes inspired by the seasonal bounty of Carroll County’s agricultural community. General manager Drew Rittenhouse and chef Dave Van Norman are the architects of Brick Ridge’s dining ambiance.

“We’re here for fresh. We’re here for innovation, and we’re here to show Carroll County that we are a gem worth discovering,” Rittenhouse said.
The innovation can be witnessed in the imaginative chef’s creations that grace Brick Ridge’s current autumn menu. Appalachia Duck is one example. A succulent piece of seared duck breast gets paired with a crispy hash that incorporates the leaves of Brussels sprouts. A tangy pickled cranberry and arugula salad accompanied by au jus make this seasonal dish one to savor slowly.

General manager, Drew Rittenhouse

Seafood also stars on the autumn menu with a shrimp and scallop duo served with polenta, leek cream and candied Brussels sprouts. Arctic char shares the plate with fennel, a beet salad, pea puree and pickled leeks.

Van Norman explained that sourcing local ingredients is his goal with all of his cooking. “We do it to support our local farmers and businesses,” he said. “I like combining seasonal flavors. We try to create a new menu every three to four months so that we utilize seasonal ingredients as much as possible.”

While the ingredients may be local, Brick Ridge also turns to places far afield from Carroll County to bring new culinary experiences to the table. In November, Brick Ridge hosted a wine pairing dinner with the Angove Family Winemakers from Australia. “We have everyone sitting at the same table. A representative from Angove talked about the wines, and we have our chef describing the dishes and wine pairings. It’s a lot of fun for us,” Rittenhouse said.

In keeping with tradition, restaurant regulars can expect Brick Ridge’s holiday celebrations to continue this season. It’s just one more way this Mount Airy restaurant is honoring its history with a heritage of flavors.

Brick Ridge

6212 Ridge Road, Mount Airy, Md. 21771 | 301-829-8191 |