Sodexo Leisure has opened a renovated cafe called the Harbor Market Kitchen at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Offering fresh, local fare that harmonizes with the Aquarium’s green business practices and conservation education mission, the Harbor Market Kitchen uses sustainable and local products such as seasonal produce, artisanal cheeses, grass-fed beef, humanely raised chicken, sustainably-harvested seafood and shade-grown coffee.
The Aquarium’s main café has served more than 1.4 million visitors a year since it opened in 2005. The Harbor Market Kitchen and extension eateries throughout the Aquarium buildings are available to all Aquarium visitors during normal business hours as well as for catering for groups and special events in the evenings.
“When it came time to bring a new dining experience to Aquarium visitors, we took the opportunity not only to renovate the space, but also use our café as another avenue to help our visitors make thoughtful choices about the planet in their daily lives,” says the National Aquarium’s Senior Director of Visitor Experiences, Bill Minarik. “The concept complements the sustainable business choices we make throughout Aquarium operations, and helps visitors do the same in their daily lives.”
The menu at the Harbor Market Kitchen was modeled from local farmers markets and offers not just seasonal fruits and vegetables, but an array of farm-to-table preparations that highlight the fact that the food is farmed instead of manufactured.
“By supporting local farming, Harbor Market Kitchen’s menus are designed to feature the seasonal ingredients and celebrate the farmer—profiling the bounty that Baltimore has to offer in one of its most notable landmarks,” says Sodexo Leisure’s National Director of Culinary Development, Chazz Alberti. “Harbor Market Kitchen pays tribute to the authentic and diversified culture of the neighborhoods of Baltimore, creating a comfortable ambiance, relaxed enough for families during the day, yet transforming itself in the evening into the perfect backdrop for celebrations and events.”
Local purveyors to Harbor Market Kitchen include Arnold Farms of Chestertown, MD, which supplies cauliflower, corn, cantaloupes and tomatoes for the fresh market salad station, and Toigo Orchards of Shippensburg, PA, which supplies beefsteak and Heirloom tomatoes, apricots, plums, raspberries and peas produced in its pesticide-free greenhouses. Hormone- and nitrite-free hotdogs, cage-free, hormone-free free chicken and grass-fed beef are also used. Healthy alternatives such as sweet potato fries and all-natural hotdogs are available for those who prefer traditional favorites.
Recent menu favorites have included...
• The Chesapeake Farm Salad, with the season’s first tender lettuces, local spring peas, butter radishes, potatoes, asparagus and grass fed flank steak tossed with a green onion vinaigrette
• Sustainably-harvested Blue Crab Chowder with smoked bacon, potatoes, tomatoes and sweet Chestertown corn
• a Reuben Sandwich fashioned with house-cured corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and gruyere cheese, along with White Oak Pastures Beef Brisket BBQ.
In addition to changes in what is served, Harbor Kitchen Market renovations also include composting stations. It also utilizes recycled, compostable materials and offers alternatives to non biodegradable waste whenever possible, such as sustainably harvested bamboo plates and bowls along with compostable potato based fork, knives and spoons.