Farm-to-fork Dining in the Heart of Towson
Peeking out over Towson Circle is a farm-to-table restaurant that offers more than just a delicious local meal in a warm, inviting setting. Cunningham’s is unique in the way it achieves a seamless continuity not only in the craft of its food but also in the human connections at work behind the scenes. At its foundation is family. Cunningham’s is named for the owner’s family farm in Monkton where, by design, the restaurant sources much of its produce and meats.
With deep local roots in its food and family, Cunningham’s achieves an atmosphere that is both upscale and rustic, authentic and elegant. It’s all about inspired entrees, a rotating seasonal menu and, most importantly, an all-star team that is also local and, in its own way, like family. On the surface, general manager Phil von Eiff, farm manager Rich Cramblitt and executive chef Jay Rohlfing are notably passionate about the restaurant’s prestige, but at heart, they share a history that keeps them committed to each other and to their culinary craft.
After three years in business, Phil is proud of all the amenities Cunningham’s has to offer. As general manager, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, including coordinating the goals of the farmer and the chef. Phil is adamant about ensuring the quality of the food, from the planting of the seeds to the installation of the rotating menus all the way to the smiles on the faces of their satisfied patrons.
There are three local farms Cunningham’s uses to source as much of its menu as possible, including its vegetables, micro greens and even lamb.
“Our farms are located in Cockeysville and Monkton, and we own them,” Phil says. “That’s the best thing about us. We are sourcing from our own. Farm-to-fork. Couldn’t be more direct.”
Phil notes his farm favorites are the heirloom tomatoes as well as a unique fall item from this past season—“fantastic Cinderella pumpkins.” In fact, many of the staff members and their families were invited to come out and pick their own. Phil notes that small gestures like this are all a part of what makes Cunningham’s more than just a restaurant and a place to work. He loves how knowing directly where the food comes from “provides quality and consistency every time.”
Phil considers his best friend of 25 years, Rich Cramblitt, to be the “true backbone” of Cunningham’s. Rich’s vision is to be a part of more than just a homestyle-feeling restaurant with a modern presentation; it is to provide sustainable standards from his farms. He’s the epitome of everything one would imagine a modern-day farmer would be—embracing the rugged, outdoor lifestyle in all he does. In his spare time, he loves to kayak.
He composts as much as possible, typically keeping with organic methods and taking pride in his pasture-raised lamb. His philosophy is that putting more pride into his work gives a better outcome.
Rich’s favorite items to grow are legumes and beans, but he has a special place in his heart for items that require more patience, like asparagus. One day he hopes to turn part of the farms into an orchard where guests can pick their own apples and have a retail location for vegetables.
Maryland’s constantly changing seasons give Rich challenges as to what he can provide for the growing seasons, so he works closely with Jay to help craft unique menus that can be locally sourced.
A graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Jay truly believes the family-oriented mentality elevates the integrity of Cunningham’s. In fact, Jay is an old high school friend of Phil’s wife, and they have known each other for over 15 years. Called “a true artist” by Phil, Jay notes what Rich grows drives his creativity. He aims to “create something from nothing,” and thinks of each day as a learning process.
Designing around eight menus a year following the early and late growing seasons Jay’s dish decisions go back-and-forth with Rich. The two collaborate on what can be grown and what Jay wants to prepare, and soon an entire menu of appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts is born. Jay knows hot spot restaurants can come and go but wants Cunningham’s to become an anchor in the Towson community.
Not just a restaurant, but truly a vision from a superior team of three gentlemen who each bring unique skills to the table, Cunningham’s offers a dining experience unique for the Towson area.