Unexpected Guest from Farm to Table

Featured Image: Mel Lhuillier | Marlin Chronicle

Occupying a small but comfortable spot in the middle of Chesapeake’s Greenbrier shopping area is the Baker’s Crust Artisan Kitchen. The restaurant is a part of a franchise local to Virginia, with locations in Northern Virginia, Richmond and near campus. 

 Known for their “Neapolitan Pizzas” and “Farm to Plate Salads,” Baker’s Crust offers a variety of handcrafted dining options sourced from Virginia’s farms, that cater to all tastes and dietary restrictions. The Baker’s Crust not only serves lunch and dinner, but a significant breakfast menu, featuring benedicts, sweet treats and omelets. Additionally, they offer catering options, desserts and libations for all cravings at any time of day.

When arriving at Baker’s Crust location in Chesapeake, the parking lot can seem quite full. As the restaurant is a part of a shopping center, it shares its space with several other businesses in its block. However, their waitresses offer the most current and accurate wait times when you call beforehand for convenience. 

The waiting area can accommodate a party of any size and even connects to their bar if you’re looking for an alcoholic beverage while you wait. Larger parties may wait longer than others as the smaller dining area contains tables and booths built for parties of six or less.

When being seated, the hostesses offer drink menus as well as their gluten free menu for those with allergies. This is a nice touch to their service, as many places don’t readily offer gluten-free menus or tailor well to customers with allergies. 

Madison Dzwonkowski, a Virginia Wesleyan senior who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a disease that requires a strict gluten free-diet, said, “Their gluten free menu is definitely worth it!” Unlike other carb-heavy restaurants, the menu is quite large, encompassing both the front and back of a page. 

“There are a lot of options!” Dzwonkowski said. Offering a full menu to those with allergies allows people like Dzwonkowski easy places to eat with friends and family without the worry of unpleasant or limited options. 

Aside from the colorful Thai chili shrimp tacos, Baker’s Crust also serves a variety of pastas, pizzas and salads. Kylea McCarel | Marlin Chronicle

When dining at Baker’s Crust, Dzwonkowski ordered a gluten-free margarita pizza. The pizza was around eight inches in diameter, which is roughly two inches smaller than the non gluten-free options. However, it was a flavorful option.

“I did wish it was a bit thicker, rather than flat bread-like,” Dzwonkowski said. “I was definitely still hungry afterwards but that’s my only complaint.” All pizzas are baked in their 900 degree Stone Deck Neapolitan Pizza Oven. They pride themselves in only using hand-stretched dough and fresh, housemade mozzarella cheese. Dzwonkowski’s gluten-free pizza was “a little burnt but overall not bad,” leaving her wanting more. 

Her friends, however, had a slightly different experience with their food. Another diner at the table, Mikayla Moscatelli, ordered the Thai Chili Shrimp Tacos with a side caesar salad. When the tacos arrived at the table, everyone was excited, as they looked full of flavor. The caesar salad was well dressed and came with the usual parmesan cheese and croutons. 

However, upon further inspection of the salad, an unwelcome guest appeared in Moscatelli’s lettuce. A worm or caterpillar about the length of a fingernail crawled out from its caesar’s palace to greet her and her friends. Shock and disgust came over the table as Dzwonkowski moved the worm to a nearby napkin for a closer look. 

“I had lost my appetite before I could finish,” Moscatelli said. The women waved over a nearby server to come take their new friend away. 

“I’m sorry, I don’t blame you,” the server, Jackeline, said. “I’m gonna go show the kitchen.” 

After a few moments of waiting, Jackeline reappeared with manager Megan Etheridge who offered a not-so-reassuring apology. “Our salads are farm to table so sometimes it happens,” Etheridge said. Regarding this mishap, no assumptions can truly be made on whether this occurrence is a common experience, or an unfortunate accident.

The comment from the manager was not well received from the table, as they were unsure if any of their food was properly prepared and handled. Etheridge removed two out of the three salads from their bill and offered coupons to each person for a free pizza and dessert upon their next visit. “I personally feel like they handled it okay,” Moscatelli said. Nonetheless, “the phrase ‘sometimes it happens’ shouldn’t have been used as an excuse,” she said. 

All of the women at their table had the same weary answer to if they’d return. “This is the first time something like this has happened to me there,” Dzwonkowski said, who had a more positive outlook on the situation.

The idea that a well-respected and nice dining restaurant does not appropriately wash their vegetables can be quite unsettling. Be that as it may be, this is a risk every patron takes when going out to eat. The choice, however, is yours. We hope you don’t come across any unexpected guests in your salads from the farm to your table.

By Kylea McCarel