By: Lynne O’Meara, Southern Maryland Resturants
St. Mary’s City, MD- If you travel deep into St. Mary’s County, you will find the most amazing bakery! Located in Historic St. Mary’s City, Enso Kitchen is a hidden treasure! Owned and operated by Rubing Yen (his wife is a professor at St. Mary’s College), Enso Kitchen has artisan, hearth-baked bread, handmade pastries, sandwiches, and salads.
Open since last November, Enso Kitchen’s hours are Monday-Friday from 9 am-3 pm (or earlier if they sell everything). Lunch is served from 11:15-1:15. I asked Rubing why he doesn’t open on the weekends, and he explained he does a lot of his local shopping on Saturdays, and Sundays he is working on prepping for the week. Since his bread and pastries are a multi-day process, Rubing is always working!
Enso is a Japanese word, which means ‘circle’. Rubing told me “it represents longevity and persistence”.
I went last Thursday and wanted to try everything! It all looks (and smells) so delicious! I really wanted to get a loaf of sourdough bread, but it was sold out. If there is something specific you want, make sure you go early! Rubing told me he “does one run of baking a day and when we are sold out, we close”.
Rubing is delightful to talk with and his passion for what he does is evident! He uses simple, high-quality ingredients. Everything is fresh and made in-house. For instance, the Chocolate Chunk Cookies have hand-cut Belgian dark chocolate added to the dough. The Oatmeal Cookies use steel-cut oats. The flour is the best.
He loves making sourdough bread. Rubing says the best sourdough is made with just a few ingredients; he says this is key to great bread. Before he opened the bakery, he decided to bake two loaves a day, and he did…for a year. His sourdough starter is six years old and named Gertie. A sourdough starter is a fermented dough filled with natural, wild yeast. The starter is what makes sourdough bread rise. Rubing uses a 3-day cold-fermentation process for the bread (the donuts and muffins use a 2-day process). The bread are then baked in a hearth oven. He has tweaked his recipes to be just what he wants, and the bread are wonderful! Rubing refers to Enso Kitchen as a micro-bakery!
I went for lunch and ordered the Torta Sandwich. All the sandwiches are on delicious demi-baguettes. The Torta has marinated, grilled local chicken with a dry rub, pickled red onions (pickled in-house), lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cilantro-lime crema. It was perfect. I know I mention layered flavors often, but that’s one of the things I look for in food. What I mean is there is no one flavor or taste that overpowers the other flavors. The flavors of the Torta were perfectly balanced! In addition, I got a donut or two…okay, I got four! They were fresh, thick and amazing! I had a fabulous Butter Croissant. It was light, flaky, and airy. I pulled it apart to eat it…delayered it…heavenly!
I left with a loaf of Buttermilk White Bread, a Baguette, and a few cookies. The bread was sliced and was perfect for sandwiches and toast. I love a good baguette…well, I just love bread! I pulled off hunks of the baguette and enjoyed it plain. The cookies were delightful too!
Some of their biggest sellers are the Bahn Mi Sandwich (marinated pork), the Sourdough Bread, and the Torta. I really think everything they make is best sellers!
Rubing recently added English Muffins to the menu. The muffin can be prepared with a local egg, sharp cheddar cheese, and uncured, smoked bacon. Sounds wonderful!
My bottom line is…this bakery is a hidden gem! If you are anywhere near St. Mary’s City, you must stop in. If you aren’t in the immediate area, plan a trip! Go early! If you want lunch, go at 11:15 to ensure they aren’t sold out yet.
I also want you to know…this is a bakery, there is no indoor seating. They do have picnic tables, which is where I ate my lunch. Sandwiches are made to order, so sometimes it might take a while to get your food, but it is so worth it!
I’m going back for Sourdough Bread and an English Muffin Sandwich on Wednesday! And maybe some donuts and cookies! And…ugh…I guess donuts and cookies are not low carb. Oh, well!
Enso Kitchen is located at 47414 Old State House Road in Historic St. Mary’s City. Check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ensokitchen
Historic St. Mary’s City is an interesting place too! From their website:
Take 800 acres of the most beautiful landscape in the mid-Atlantic and wrap them in waterways and place them on top of the best-preserved English colonial archaeological site in North America and you have Historic St. Mary’s City. HSMC has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark since 1969 and is one of Southern Maryland’s leading tourist attractions.
The museum commemorates the fourth permanent English settlement in North America, Maryland’s first city and for sixty-one years, its colonial capital. St. Mary’s was the scene of many notable firsts in America’s early history.
As you walk through the park-like setting of Historic St. Mary’s City, costumed interpreters bring the past to life. Special events held throughout the year and provide unique opportunities for visitors to work alongside archaeologists, explore the lifeways and culture of the region’s Native American peoples, and discover various facets of the colonial experience in tidewater Maryland. Our unique grounds and buildings offer a memorable venue for weddings and corporate affairs.
Check out their website for hours of operations, admission cost, and special events: https://hsmcdigshistory.org/