We all know it's true. Washingtonians are not really interested in hopping in the car or on the train to trek out to Baltimore for what we believe is a city filled with mediocre food (unless we're talking crabs). But, I'm here to tell you that I've survived the trip to Baltimore and back and dare I say it was incredibly worthwhile? I indulged in a wonderful meal at Woodberry Kitchen in Hampden and I have to admit that I am already plotting a return trip.
The actual restaurant is a little bit off the beaten path and located on a quiet street. They share a space with a glass blowing studio next door and the atmosphere is really lovely. A very large open space with brick interior, and an upstairs that overlooks the bustling bar and tables on the main level. Not sure if the beautiful white lights were just adorning the restaurant for the holidays or not, but they provided such a pleasant touch. It almost feels as though you are in a restored farmhouse or barn and the food really matches the atmosphere.
Woodberry Kitchen prides itself on seasonal and local ingredients getting most of its seafood from the Chesapeake Bay region and also focusing on organic meats. The menu is rich with heavy and down-home delicious entrees, but their daily specials are also plentiful with many freshly caught ingredients. I had surveyed the Twittersphere before my friend Julia and I ate at Woodberry and was told to definitely order one of the special flatbreads for the table. We decided to split one of the special flatbreads made with cured pork, apple, carmelized onion, goat cheese, and rocket. Wow was this good. And Julia and I were interested to learn that their pesto is made with peanuts unlike the normal versions made with pinenuts. The flatbread was drizzled with a touch of honey which added the perfect amount of sweetness to an otherwise wonderful combination of flavors.
There were so many incredible choices for entrees and the waitstaff was very knowledgeable and helpful in providing recommendations. I decided to order the tavern steak served with fried sunchokes, cauliflower, peppers, and a peanut romesco sauce. My friend Julia got a special of raw rockfish sashimi and a chicory salad with a poached egg and a homemade mustard dressing. My steak was served medium rare as six medallions over a plentiful plate of vegetables which were excellent. The peppers packed a ton of heat but the peanut sauce and the fried sunchoke calmed down the flavors rounding out a very nicely executed dish. It was also quite a light preparation for a steak dinner which I was very pleased with, rather than the traditional ribeye which would have been much heavier and probably too much for me to handle on my own.
For dessert we decided to try to the gingerbread cake with bay ice cream. While not something that would typically be on the top of my list the waitress sold it well and we decided to give it a whirl. Turns out it was great and the spicy tones in the cake were balanced out perfectly with the citrusy flavors of the bay ice cream. It was a great end to the meal. Woodberry Kitchen is definitely a culinary gem in Baltimore. The food and the atmosphere provide a wonderful dining experience and it lived up to all of the expectations I had and the hype I have been hearing about for over a year. So, I've decided that we need to give Baltimore a chance. My next stop on the Baltimore bandwagon: Wit and Wisdom Tavern by Michael Mina at the new Four Seasons Baltimore.