Ocean City has a reputation for not exactly being a hot spot for dining out. Due to the town’s strict laws forbidding liquor licenses or even BYOBs, most folks pass right by this famous family resort in search of livelier and less restrictive places to enjoy their dinner. But there is one meal where Ocean City has become the go-to option. Breakfast.
Everywhere from the old standbys like Dot’s Pastry Shop and Brown’s Restaurant to newer spots like Naughti Donuts, folks are lining up to start the day off right all over town. One of the newest points on the breakfast trail is Dead End Bakehouse. Located on Bay Avenue and owned by Sharon and Robert Idell — the same folks behind the popular Ocean City breakfast spots Drip N’ Scoop, Dockside Kitchen and Sunrise Café — they specialize in bagels, fresh baked breads, unique spreads, hot and cold-brewed coffee and more. And the philosophy of the restaurant is simple — to make sure to keep the customers expecting the unexpected.
“We are a bakehouse, which means you kind of never know what we are going to have,” says Sarah Leone, who serves as manager of the new hot spot. “We like to change it up. We might throw in muffins ... scones … cookies … that’s just what we do. Every day we change up what we have. It’s mainly bagels and sourdough breads, but we throw in different flavors and items, so you never know what you are going to find.”
Leone notes that some of the most popular items have come about somewhat organically, based on customer demand.
“We do these bagel bombs, which look like a bagel but they don’t have the hole in it, so we fill it with stuff. We have been cutting them in half and putting cream cheese on them, which is not on the menu, but has become really popular.”
As far as the space itself is concerned, Dead End opts for a no frills design. A scattering of small tables dot the white walls. Décor is extremely minimal, but pleasant enough, keeping the focus on the bins full of bagels and sourdough loaves, whose ever-changing flavors include ham and cheddar ($9) and chocolate chip walnut ($9).
Speaking of interesting flavors, the topping options for breads and bagels include some of the most outside-the-box spreads we have seen anywhere. Cream cheese choices go from sweet (maple whiskey, vanilla walnut, Oreo, Nutella, white chocolate, cinnamon raisin, chocolate peanut butter) to savory (bacon and scallion, Italian herb, veggie) with even a few spicy choices thrown in (honey habanero, cheddar jalapeno).
Munch for lunch
In addition to breakfast, Dead End Bakehouse has an impressive list of lunch items, including sandwiches such as the deviled egg salad with lettuce and tomato ($9), the avocado BLT($7) and the caprese ($8) which features spinach, tomato, mozzarella, pesto and basil. One standout on the lunch menu is known as “bacon and the goat” ($11) and consists of smashed avocado, goat cheese, bacon and chives all resting atop a toasted slice of their homemade sourdough. This somehow manages to simultaneously feel both indulgent and vaguely healthy (thanks to the avocado). Caloric guessing games aside, it’s one of the tastiest dishes on the menu.
Other sourdough-based dishes include a smoked salmon toast ($11) as well as the jalapeno and pico ($9), which teams jalapeno cream cheese and a spicy pico de gallo with the ever popular smashed avocado. All this before the clock strikes 3 p.m.
So with all this focus on early eating, could it be possible that dinner is passe in the O.C.?
“People just love breakfast in Ocean City, even the locals. The year-round people keep us busy all the time. We have been selling out. It’s a hot spot for sure,” Leone says.