I am a sucker for luxury. I love a beautiful hotel and a great upscale restaurant, so Wit and Wisdom Tavern at the new Four Seasons in Baltimore has been on my list for some time. With the Thanksgiving holiday I finally had some free time to relax and cross some things off my list, so my friend Laurie insisted that we make a reservation to give it a try. Driving up to the hotel was magical with all of the white tea lights for the holiday season and the view is breathtaking since it sits right on the Baltimore Harbor. The hotel is really spectacular. It’s so open, white, and modern with beautiful floral arrangements sitting in the center of the lobby and a staff that is thrilled to welcome you to their home. We made our way into Wit and Wisdom Tavern and were greeted by the General Manager Anthony Kinn who was very inviting and made us feel like valued customers. The restaurant is expansive and is reminiscent of a ski lodge with big comfortable chairs and couches situated around the many fireplaces. The bar is oval shaped to allow for guests to sit around the counter and enjoy cocktails facing others. Laurie and I are big wine drinkers, but based on the suggestion of the bartender we decided to spring for an Autumn cocktail which was topped with a touch of cinnamon which got me into the Fall spirit.
We were seated at a table facing the water and got a great rundown of the menu and many of the local ingredients used in the dishes. Instead of ordering our usual go-to’s when it comes to wine, we decided to leave those decisions in the hands of the educated sommelier who provided pairings for each of our courses. After drooling over essentially every item on the menu, I made the decision to order the Nantucket bay scallops with potato gnocchi, tripe, and a manchego chipotle froth. The dish was light and the perfect portion size, and the scallops with the froth had a rich and buttery flavor. It was a perfect starter for the meal and Laurie greatly enjoyed the beet salad with goat cheese which she ordered as her appetizer. I was also very excited to hear that Wit and Wisdom Tavern is part of the Maryland True Blue seafood program which is a labeling initiative that allows the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to certify restaurants that are accurately using fresh Maryland crabs. I am a big supporter of this program as it allows consumers to know where their seafood is from and to support establishments that source locally. You can read more about my experience with this program here.
The restaurant was incredibly kind to us and treated us to two dishes that they felt best represented the season and what they do best: the chilled Hudson Valley foie gras 'bar' and the charred octopus salad. The foie gras was served on a bed of crumbled bay leaf with dabs of teriyaki sauce on the plate which helped to offset the rich nature of the liver. I also loved the components of the octopus salad which included radishes, lemon, apple, and steak sauce. The octopus was charred nicely on the outside and cooked just right to provide a substantial texture. We were very appreciative that Wit and Wisdom chose to share these dishes with us and we enjoyed them wholeheartedly.
The easiest decision I made all night at Wit and Wisdom Tavern was my entree. As soon as I saw the lamb dish I knew it was for me, not to mention that it comes from Border Springs Farm in Virginia which produces some of the best product in the country. I have a lot of experience with Border Springs because I judged the Lamb Jam competition in the Washington area in 2011 and EatMore DrinkMore also participated in a "lamb-off" against other bloggers earlier this year. Wit and Wisdom's lamb dish consisted of lamb and loin, and was served with swiss chard cannelloni, medjool dates, and lamb jus. It was everything I wanted it to be and more, and the dish was beautifully plated. The lamb was tender, the sauce had a few sweet notes, and the bitter flavors of the swiss chard were perfectly blended with the cheese and crepe of the cannelloni. I was wild about it. As with most of Michael Mina's restaurants, they provide many options for a la carte sides so we enjoyed our entrees with the brussels sprouts with garlic and bacon, and the green farro "risotto style".
The wine courses were continuing to flow, and the sommelier brought out a wide range of variety from the beginning of the meal to end that really enriched the flavors of the food we were enjoying. As it was nearing dessert time, Laurie and I were both leaning towards one particular dish, but the waiter made a very strong recommendation for the C.C.C. which he promised we would love and explained it was a deconstructed Almond Joy. It sounded intriguing so we decided to spring for it. In addition, the kitchen generously brought out the new banana dessert that was just added to the menu for us to taste. The waiter really hit a home run with us because the C.C.C. was amazing and the description on the menu hardly does it justice. The best way I can describe it is a chilled chocolate caramel pudding with all sorts of crumbled goodies around the edge of the plate including chocolate cookie crumbs, full marcona almonds, and topped off with a coconut sorbet. It was fabulous. The banana dessert was nice as well and included a few different variations such as a warm banana cake, as well as a banana sherbert.
Wit and Wisdom Tavern hit all of the right marks for me: comfortable and upscale atmosphere, impeccable service, wonderful food, and high quality ingredients. For all of you Washingtonians who never go to Baltimore and claim it is too far, I promise you it is worth a trip.