Fleet Street Kitchen

I have recently become a regular at the Bagby chain of restaurants. And, my opinion of the group is starting to improve.  I hadn’t been a huge fan – I found them a little stuffy, lacking some novelty and slightly overpriced.

While at the Yards beer dinner, I realized that I may have been too judgmental and I decided to head over to Fleet Street for happy hour and a 5 course tomato tasting.  Plus, they have 1000 point tables on open table – so why not?  They gave me a little hassle when I asked to just sit at the bar, which was EMPTY at 5pm, but they gave me the points and a menu anyway. It was a joy to see GM Matt and the beverage director Tim, who were super friendly and helpful (although the valets were absolutely not… Please go see my friends Amadu, Harouna and Stanford over at the four seasons – just a few dollars more, but worth EVERY PENNY and the 2 block walk – even if you are in heels).

I was super excited when I saw one of my favorites from Wit was working behind the bar.  Holly took great care of us walking us through the menu and giving us a great wine recs. I am not sure I needed them, because I was going with the rosé.  It was the right choice; it really complemented tomato dishes. This one worked expertly, very clean, but crisp enough on the palate to bring out the sweetness of the fresh heirloom tomatoes.  I would like to find a few bottles to keep in my fridge for the summer.

My mom and I split an order of five of the seven tomato tasting courses (for $36), IMG_2109starting with the caprese salad – chunks of fresh red on the vine tomatoes and a huge ball of housemade burrarta mozz.  I need to you to honestly think for a second about the size of that mozzarella ball – easily the size of my small fist.  This is one of my favorite combinations – the salty creamy cheese combined with the crisp sweet tomatoes and garnished with a heavenly fragrant olive oil and spicy kale and cilantro pesto. My mom would have preferred basil – but not this girl!

I really appreciated that they brought the courses one at a time.  The next course to arrive was the tomato and cantaloupe.  Small diced tomato bites and melon balls tossed in a melon coulis (which is basically a purée), surrounding a ball of tomato sorbet. Yes… I said tomato sorbet. I wasn’t sure about that, but then I tasted it – smooth, rich tomato flavor in one chilled glorious bite.  I’m dreaming about that right now.  It turns out melons go with just about everything – sorry to my poor friend, who is allergic, you’re really missing out. The texture combination was well played and the flavored truly harmonized in each bite.

I was most excited for the tomato tartar.  It sounded the most unique; tiny bites of red tomato with bright yellow green banana peppers and beautiful sweet juniper berries. It was very pretty. I’m so sorry I don’t have a picture. Flavor and texture wise, this one missed the mark for me. The tiny chunks of tomato were a little mushy and I don’t like banana peppers (or juniper berries, for that matter) enough to add them to each bite for contrast. The sharpness of the peppers kind of took over the plate.

Next we had your traditional meatballs in tomato sauce – oh my goodness – the grass-fed beef and pork lends itself perfectly to the hearty robust flavor of these heirloom tomatoes. They were served in an adorable cast iron skillet.  Don’t you worry, I sopped up every last bit of sauce with their homemade bread.  I think they made this one with four different heirloom tomatoes.  These were so good, I think almost everyone in our party shared another order – they are on the happy hour menu every weekday from 4-7… Hooray!!!

Last, but not least was house made and hand cut linguine with a very light  garlic cream sauce tossed with roasted mushrooms and sungold tomatoes, these are small little yellow/red tomatoes.  I love the texture of fresh made pasta cooked to a perfect al dente. It almost melts in your mouth, but is firm enough to round out the dish. The mushrooms and flavors melded nicely, but the those tomato halves – a burst of juicy goodness.

I had a hard time determining my favorite – I liked all the courses for different reasons. I thought the tomato tartar was going to be my favorite, but it was actually lowest on the list.  They were all fantastic, but if we are highlighting tomatoes then cantaloupe and tomatoes wins.  Nevertheless, that perfect combination of the caprese salad came in a very close second…

IMG_2110Luckily, we were there long enough to partake in a few nibbles of the charcuterie and cheese plate. This was not my favorite and I love charcuterie plates. I think we only ate the duck bacon and the Belgium sausage.  My favorite part of this plate was the bread and the red gooseberries.  This one had a few things that were a little too out there for me – like lard on what a toasted brioche piece of toast and a little dish of meat that was so much fat, it kind of rose to the top and you had to stir it all together.  Plus, it only came with a few bites of cheese. I have a friend who doesn’t really like the meats, and really just wants the cheese –  skip the happy hour charcuterie and go with the regular menu cheese plate.

Fleet Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The Prime Rib

I was lucky enough to score a table for four during restaurant week. I have been eyeing this spot for many many years; my friend used to live upstairs in the Horizon House.  I always thought this place was fancy fancy, with their complementary valet and jacket requirement for men.  I am also not a huge fan of chains – but this is a very local – only 3 – chain and Baltimore is “The Original”.

This is your classic steak house.  It feels a a little like you are walking into 1963 (well let’s be real, I have no idea how that would feel, but more like my impression of what 1963 would feel like).  With their restaurant week specials – you can experience the Prime Rib at a very reasonable price.  A three course pre-fix for $30.14.  They also had two wine choices at $24 a bottle – we went with the red – Stemmari’s Nero d’Avola.  I was a little nervous about it, but our lovely waiter Tim, offered to let me taste it before we bought it.  The notes on the nose were a little intense, but the taste was mild and very smooth.

For our first course, we all went salad.  I had the special house salad – we were rewarded by picking the one with “famous” house dressing.  It’s a tangy and peppery, and somehow creamy vinaigrette.  I had mine on the side, as I wanted to be able to taste the crisp greens, and fresh tomatoes.  I might go with soup next time, but I (and everyone) seemed pretty pleased.

For the main course, despite that the place is called the Prime Rib, with the cut of meat being the house special, all of us went with the filet.  The ladies of the evening ordered it med-rare, but erring on the rare side.  The waiter did suggest that we not pick that cut of meat if we wanted it cooked any further than medium – so keep that in mind when you are making your meat choices.  My steak was perfect.  In fact, everyone at the table had a perfectly med-rare steak.  It comes on a plate with some greens and shredded horseradish.

Their steaks generally do not come with sides, they are family style à la cart.  For restaurant week, our entrées came with the creamed spinach and their classic mashed potatoes.  The spinach had to be fresh, which makes for a much better texture when mixed with what had to be whole milk or cream or half and half or all three.  I also tasted just enough onion and garlic.  I imagine that something extra flavor came from nutmeg, my favorite spinach spice, but I am not the chef, so I can’t be sure.  The mashed potatoes were just like my families on Thanksgiving – classic potato, butter and cream.  I like the addition of lots of things to mashed potatoes, but sometimes simple is best.  This was one of those nights.

We had three choices for dessert – key lime pie, crème brûlée, a chocolate mousse pie.  Our table split in half – two for the key lime and 2 for the mousse.  I loved my sweet and tangy dessert.  Dessert is never really my favorite course, but I am a fan when it involves something a little more on the savory or tangy side.  Two of my other friends quickly consumed their chocolate mousse, so I can only assume that was also fantastic.

In case you are wondering about the deal for restaurant week – the salad at $10, the steak at $49, the two sides at $8/$9 for the table, and the dessert also at a price of $11 would have been $75 per person before the wine.  I can’t promise the portion sizes were the exact same, but they were plenty big enough and no way it would be double as good.
The Prime Rib on Urbanspoon

Maggie’s Farm

It’s not really fair for me to write about this place here, since this blog is really about me trying new things.  And, we all know how I feel about their burger… But, I had never been for brunch… does that count?  Maggie’s Farm is on Harford Road in Lauraville.  So, combining a farm to table style place that grows a fair amount of their food on site with my favorite meal is my idea of a great Saturday.

I was famished and immediately ordered coffee and donuts (please, don’t be shocked… don’t half my posts involve donuts?).  Take a look at what we started with.  Those are three house made to order crispy and soft yeast style donuts; they are light and airy rather than dense and cakey. The left one is a blueberry bourbon donut – the blueberry definitely complemented the bourbon, which you could taste, but did not overwhelm.  The middle, which was not my favorite is your classic chocolate drizzle over an amazing candied dough.  The one on the right, there, my absolute fav… Wineberry – have you heard of wineberries?  They are apparently less hairy raspberries.  This sugarcoated bite of goodness had just the right amount of tart and sweet along with crunch and gooeyness.  All three were sitting atop of a mound of house made whipped cream.IMG_2067

Our entree’s were good, incredibly savory and satisfying.

I opted for the special: fried green tomatoes Benedict that came with deviled ham.  My egg’s could have been poached a little longer, but there was a sweet red sauce that really balanced the spicy meat and crunchy tomatoes.  This benny beats a Langermann’s fried green tomato benny EVERY time.  I am not sure that the ham was my favorite part, but I still ate every bite of this breakfast including the entire potato hash.

I was having brunch with my mom and I chose the Benedict when we both wanted the veggie pancakes.  Zucchini and squash creating a fritter style patty.  Her pancakes were savory rather than sweet and came with sautéed and roasted veggies – snap peas, squash, tomato – and topped with perfectly poached eggs and the same hollandaise as mine.  The pancakes were slightly spongy, but the veggies were so very crisp and flavorful.

Maggie’s Farm for Life…  I need one of those bumper stickers. Maggie's Farm on Urbanspoon