Article By: Bonnie Williamson
Photos By: Josh Triggs
In 1967, singer songwriter Arlo Guthrie released a song called, “Alice’s Restaurant.” That ditty proclaimed, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.” Well, substitute Alice’s Restaurant with Dan’s Restaurant and TapHouse. The thought is the same.
Dan’s, located at 3 South Main St., Boonsboro, Md., has been treating its customers with such a wide variety of food and drink for the past six years that its drink menu alone is more than four pages. Food, and those drinks are constantly changing to satisfy all who come by.
Erin Cook, Dan’s general manager, says she has seen the food menu go through revisions four times in as many years.
“We had different chefs come up with different dishes over the years,” Cook says. “I finally decided to design the menu. I kept old favorites like fish and chips and our burgers, but added a few upscale items. I wanted to take ownership of what we were serving. What I wanted Dan’s to be.”
These items include entrees like pan seared scallops with sweet corn and prosciutto risotto, and asparagus with jalapeno Beurre Blanc, a classic French sauce of butter, wine, and cream; and two jumbo lump crab cakes served with cilantro lime quinoa, a dipping sauce with caramelized onion and garlic and lime juice, and sautéed green beans with citrus aioli, a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, and chives and lemon. Of course Dan’s has its own way of doing recipes.
“That’s a secret,” Cook says, smiling.
Leaving the dinner menu and going on to lunch, one of those secrets is the barbecue sauce on a pulled pork sandwich, topped with coleslaw and nestled in a house-made bun. It comes with a choice of sides like hand cut fries or onion rings. That “secret” barbecue sauce has a bit of a kick to it. Just a little hot, but, the phrase that comes to mind to describe it is a taste of summer.
The fish that is part of those fish and chips consistently on the menu as a customer favorite is battered Cod. Burgers can range from the basic burger with lettuce, tomato and raw onion to the Tap House Burger served with bacon, pickled onions, and Tap House Blue, a blue cheese dressing made onsite. Or there’s the Rise and Shine Burger a local sausage and beef blend, with bacon, a fried egg, sharp cheddar, maple syrup and tater tots.
Cook uses fresh local products at Dan’s, including lettuce from South Mountain MicroFARM. South Mountain MicroFarm uses no chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilized, growth hormones or antibiotics in its operation.
“I wanted to return to the original focus of from the farm to the table,” Cook says.
Then there’s that lengthy drinks menu. Whether you’re a connoisseur seeking a specific beer or fine wine or liquor, you’ll find all of it at Dan’s.
“No place has as many beers on tap as we do,” Cook says. “We have 34 rotating American craft drafts.”
Beers include Firestone Walker beers, Flying Dog Bird’s Eye Rye Beer, and Flying Dog Mimosa Beer just to name a few. People can check with Facebook or UNTAPPD to see what’s coming in the future.
For other brews, TapHouse favorites include Basil Hayden’s, Sagamore Rye, Angel’s Envy, The Balvenie (Scotch), and Johnnie Walker. Wines include reds Caduceus Le Cortigiane Oneste 2012, Paradise Springs Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 and 901 Summit Zinfandel 2015; whites include Caduceus Dos Ladrones 2013, Breaux Vineyards Equation Rose and Stone Hill Moscato.
Dan’s offers a variety of Happy Hours during the week. Check the website at www.drnth.com for the latest events. Cook says Dan’s has a Late Night Menu, offering food even after the kitchen has closed.
“As long as there are people here,” she says.
The Late Night Menu includes such items as a basket of fries, ham and cheese panini, fried pickles, crab nachos and chicken tenders and fries.
Cook recently started a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“No one else in Boonsboro has a brunch,” she says. “It’s really new and exciting.”
The brunch menu features some unusual items. One such delicacy is Doughnut Sammy. It consists of two honey bourbon glazed doughnuts (from Hagerstown’s famous Krumpe’s Do-Nuts) with bacon, a fried egg and gouda inside. Or there’s banana chocolate hazelnut French toast topped with a grilled banana. For a real Maryland flavor, you can try a Chesapeake Benny, which is an English muffin, crab, poached egg, Old Bay hollandaise, Old Bay hand cut fries and fruit. Then there’s the smoke salmon board consisting of house smoked salmon, basil infused tomato, pickled onion, cucumbers, crackers, and garlic herb creamed cheese.
Cook says Dan’s remains a friendly family restaurant. Another menu on the bill is a Kid’s Menu. This menu offers Mac n’ cheese, chicken tenders, a crab cake slider, grilled cheese sandwich, and cheese burgers, among other items. Kids can also do puzzles that involve a pug you can color or a game that lets you find the pug’s owner (more on the pug’s significance to come).
Many of Dan’s 34 employees have been with the restaurant since it started.
“Our customers know our servers and the servers know them,” she says. “They have conversations together. They talk about weddings, babies, all sorts of things.”
Cook started out as a server herself when she was 18. She went on to study recreation and tourism at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV.
Dan’s Restaurant and TapHouse is owned by Daniel Aufdem-Brinke, the son of Boonsboro’s famous author Nora Roberts.
“People love to come here and see the places Nora has named in her books,” Cook says. “We also have many visitors who come for the history like the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg.”
The logo for Dan’s features a pug. Cook says the owner is involved with rescue work for pugs.
The restaurant can seat about 130 people. It has a bar and an outside set up where people can eat when the weather warms up.
Dan’s Restaurant and TapHouse is easy to find right on Boonsboro’s main street. So come on in and get anything you want….but it should be on the menu of course!