Chef Kirk Blaine's Adventurous Menu at Castaway's
For one chef, wild game is more than a meal - it's an art.
“I’m fed up with fine dining,” says Castaways’ head chef Kirk Blaine. “It’s so stuffy and critical.”
Seated in the corner of the restaurant he owns with business partners Heather Olmr and Jim Cole, Blaine wears a crisp apron and an age-worn visor, an apt intersection of classic and backcountry that’s just as unexpected as the food he serves.
Castaways is tucked away, almost out of sight, in a Skidaway Island shopping center between Fiore and Loc’s Chicken and Waffles. Everything about the restaurant is remarkably unassuming, from nautical wall murals and simple one-page menus to the lack of web presence.
The relaxed atmosphere is intentional, Blaine says.
With a specials menu that commonly boasts items like camel, rattlesnake and alligator, that couldn’t be closer to the truth.
One of his favorite dishes to make is General Tso’s Dove, a meat that Blaine says tastes similar to duck. A red meat dish, it’s served medium-rare and is often accompanied by soba noodles, carrots and broccoli. “It’s really fun to play with it and match those authentic flavors,” he muses.
Most of his wild game comes from the farm at the Bethesda Academy, roughly a mile away, whose agricultural program is top-notch. Between farms, fields and wild game preserves at the historic orphanage-turned-boys’-school, the supply of quality, humanely raised ingredients is enough to keep Blaine creating inspired cuisine to his heart’s content.
“There’s absolutely nothing I can’t get my hands on,” says Blaine. “We’re packed full of ideas and we’re only limited by the amount of space we have to cook them in.”