Bold Flavors of the Caribbean Spice Up The Kitchen

By Cathy Adams

     Nearly every chef at one time or another has the dream of owning his own place. Chef Barry Rumsey has reached his goal by opening The Kitchen, a stall in the Cross Street Market that serves a Caribbean-influenced menu of sandwiches, soups and salads and grilled food.

     Having served as an executive chef for the Marriott Corporation for 16 years, Rumsey's small, well-organized open kitchen is a change of pace for him. "I like the feel of the market and enjoy the immediate feedback from customers," he said. "It's a lot of fun to have that interaction. You can tell right away if they like it." Originally from London, England, Rumsey used to live in Bermuda and sailed throughout the Caribbean before settling in the Baltimore area.

     He said, "I like the bold flavors" of cumin, allspice, hot peppers and cilantro typical of Caribbean islands. "In hot countries you eat hot soups in the summer. It will cool you down better than a soda."

     The grilled Caribbean conch chowder is a popular antidote to Baltimore's heat and humidity. The tomato-based broth is generous with sweet potatoes, okra, celery, onions and conch, and is lively with cumin and allspice. It has enough heat from peppers to wake up the taste buds without having to reach for a quart of water.

     Another popular soup is the Bermuda-style fish chowder with a small shot of rum poured into it.

     Rumsey said that in Bermuda rum and sherry peppers (jalapeno peppers soaked in sherry) are used as condiments instead of salt and pepper.

     The jerk chicken wrap with herbed cream cheese is the best selling sandwich, with the "jerk having more flavor than being spicy," said Rumsey. "I season everything as I like it for myself," he added, noting that customers seldom ask for salt and pepper. The Carolina-style pulled pork (with a vinegar-based marinade and sauce) is available as a sandwich or as a filling for quesadillas stuffed with grilled peppers, onions and jack cheese.

     "I'm proud to say that I don't have a fryolator. So everything is pan-seared or grilled, which is lot healthier for you," he said.

     Tasty low-fat lunch alternatives include his pan-seared catfish sandwich served with mango salsa (recipe below), grilled salmon with wicked peach chutney, grilled portobello mushroom in a pita and seafood and chicken kebobs.

     With only seating for seven at the counter, Rumsey said that it is often more convenient to call ahead and order carry out. And because he has to abide by the market hours (the market closes at six pm), he advises that it is best to call ahead for take home for dinner. But he plans to stay open on Friday nights during the fall and winter for the crowded happy hour at the Charles Street end of the market at Nick's Seafood.

     Rumsey said he has been pleased at how well his food has been received and thinks that sitting down to a bowl of conch chowder allows his customers to "reminisce about their vacations in the Islands."

The Kitchen's Mango Salsa



  1. Chop mango, red bell pepper, scallions, red onion into medium dice. Finely dice jalapeno (you can leave the seeds in). Add cumin, lime juice and salt. Toss together and let sit for at least one hour before serving. Will keep for 2-3 days under refrigeration.

     Chef Barry Rumsey recommends this as a great accompaniment to any grilled fish and chicken.

The Kitchen
in the Cross Street Market (Charles Street entrance)
(410) 468-4477

Hours: Monday - Saturday 11:30-6

Appetizers and Soups: $2.50-3.50
Sandwiches and Salads: $4.50-5.95

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