By: Lynne O’Meara, Southern Maryland Restaurants

I love restaurants that are hidden gems, and one of my favorites is Jessie’s Kitchen in Leonardtown. One of the things (or people) that makes this restaurant special is Jessie! Before opening the restaurant, she was looking at different business options. She told her mother there was one thing she really loved to do. She told her, “I love to cook”.

Her fate was sealed and almost three years ago she opened Jessie’s Kitchen. When talking with Jessie, her passion for food is evident. She told me, “I wish people would understand how much heart I put into it”. She told me she really wants people to enjoy her food.

Jessie’s Kitchen is comfortable and inviting. It’s located in the building that once was the Bell Motor Company, in Leonardtown. From the colors of the walls to the large table in the center to the mural of a vineyard on the wall, Jessie has designed it for people to stay awhile and enjoy their meal.

The food is described as Asian Fusion or Asian American, but it really doesn’t fit any one category. Jessie says she, “tries to do something different”. The menu has items that include salads, burgers, appetizers, small plates, entrees, and noodle bowls. She also offers daily specials, which are found on the chalkboard when you enter the restaurant. The night I was there she had the following specials:

  • Appetizer – Steak Tacos with spicy salsa
  • Soup of the Day – Apple & Squash or Cream of Crab
  • Fish of the Day – Salmon and Scallops with Yuzu Teriyaki Miso Sauce

Entrée Special – Jerk Chicken or Veal Burger

The specials change according to availability and season. Sometimes you can find Blue Fin Tuna, Tigers Prawns from Nigeria, or Duck (especially in winter) on the specials menu. There are always wonderful options! They also have a small bar and serve beer, wine and spirits.

Coconut Shrimp

The food is delightful. The night I went we decided to try several small plates. We ordered Scallions Pancakes, Coconut Shrimp, Shrimp Leek Cakes, and Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I love small plates because it’s fun to share a variety of menu items…more to taste! The Scallion Pancakes were a big surprise to me! They were crisp and flaky, not overwhelmed with scallions, and served with a delicious Asian sauce. The Coconut Shrimp was a perfect blend of coconut, breading and shrimp. They were large and came with a sweet chili sauce.

Scallion Pancakes

The Shrimp Leek Cakes were dumplings that are pan-fried on the bottom. The taste of the leeks was a great pairing with the shrimp. Our last small plate was the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. The chicken had carrots, onions, and water chestnuts cooked with it. I loved the flavor of the spices; I tried to identify them but couldn’t. I’m sure there was Asian Five-Spice Powder in it, but according to Jessie’s, there are a lot more.

We decided to finish the meal with a sweet Steamed Custard Bun. I love steamed buns and this one didn’t disappoint. The texture was perfect and the custard inside was smooth, creamy and delicious.

Shrimp Leek Cakes

The service was perfect. Our server Nickey was friendly, attentive and personable. I asked her what her favorite menu items are and she said, “Kale Ramen Noodles, Pan-seared Chicken, and any seafood. Rachel, who seated us, said she loves the Pork Belly Bun.

Every day, Jessie can be found in the kitchen, doing what she loves to do. Since not much is premade, she prepares the food one order at a time. This means sometimes it takes a little longer to get your food (especially when they are busier), but you can be assured the food is fresh and fabulous.

Because she loves to cook, she said, “I cook what I want sometimes”. This means you can be surprised by the specials on the board!

There are so many menu items (and specials) I want to try! I will be going back again soon!

Jessie’s Kitchen is located at 22845C Washington Street, Leonardtown, MD. The hours are Monday-Thursday 11am-8:30, Friday and Saturday 11am-9: 30 pm. They are closed on Sunday. Check out their page on Facebook.

Rating (out of 5):

  • Food: 4.8
  • Service: 4.8
  • Ambiance: 4.7

Total: 4.8

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...