Hello reader, today’s blog post is going to be a little different. Instead of a blog about my past in culinary school, I am going to share a very recent dining experience my wife and I had. I had always planned to eventually do restaurant reviews too, so here goes my first one.
We went to The Wine Kitchen in Frederick, Maryland by accident honestly. We planned to go to a restaurant called Hootch and Banter, but the wait time was a little too long for us (reservations not allowed). So we started searching for other upscale restaurants nearby and decided to go with The Wine Kitchen. I’ve heard of this place before and added it to my list of places to try months prior, so why not? The GPS said it would be a two minute walk but ultimately made go in a circle leading us right back to the front of Hootch and Banter. So I switched to a different GPS and it led us through a poorly lit street where we arrived at what looked like the entrance to a doctors office or something with a sign saying The Wine Kitchen was inside. After going inside there was a sign saying that it was in room 106, definitely doctor office vibes. We took the elevator upstairs and there was a 101, 102 and a door leading back outside. We almost left and chose another restaurant, so I went through the door leading us back outside and looked to my left, there it was. Practically right across the street from Hootch and Banter.
Once we got inside, it was a small, cozy and slightly rustic looking restaurants with wooden tables and low strung lights hovering right over your table. we were seated within about 3 minutes at a half booth. They have these tiny little paper bags that you can put your mask in, instead of crunching it in your pocket. On the table there was hand sanitizer and a QR code that provided us with the menu online. The menu was not extensive, there weren’t that many food options compared to most other restaurants. Although there was an extensive list of wines. They probably have to keep the food menu small because the size of their establishment, they couldn’t house all ingredients if they had more menu items. From what I saw there were about four cooks, two servers, one bartender and one host. We quickly decided what we wanted to order, so lets get into the aspects of the food.
Appetizer. For our appetizer we chose Fried Green tomatoes ($7). The other options they had including Mac and Cheese, Pappardelle, Mussels and Oysters. Back to the green tomatoes. The presentation was very simple and neat, served on a hot skillet with sriracha aioli as a dipping sauce. The crust on the tomatoes were firm and did not fall apart after each bite. You could tell the green tomatoes were fresh and they wanted to highlight that freshness by not overpowering it with a bunch seasonings. The sriracha aioli made all the difference and gave a nice subtle kick to the starter.
Entrée. Instead of choosing individual entrees we went with a dinner for two where we would share the whole plate. We chose the Beef Short Ribs ($55) that came with two sides of your choice. They had mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, buttered green beans and carrots, mac and cheese and twice baked potato. We went with the creamed spinach and mac and cheese for our sides. The short ribs were very tender, as if they had been braised for at least 3 hours and the sauce was rich and shiny. They must have used a cornstarch slurry instead of a roux. I only felt that the sauce was missing a little sweetness. I also think they should have ladled the sauce over the ribs, and if they did, it needed more. Each piece we picked up, had to be rubbed back on the platter to pick up remains of the sauce. The mac and cheese was in my opinion average (no offense). I mean the pasta was cooked soft, and the sauce coated it well. By the time we separated it onto our individual sharing plates it was lukewarm though. Honestly the star of this dish was the spinach, it seemed like with each bite, the flavor intensified. Strong hits of garlic and parmesan going at you with the creamy texture. I would have chose that for both sides if I knew it would be that good.
Dessert: Now when I (and I’m sure many others) think of a Brownie, it is a hot overly sweet, soft, chocolatey dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel. This was the opposite. the brownie was served cold, but I believe they did it that way for a good reason, there was chocolate ganache and cremeux piped on top of the brownie, beside the brownie was a cherry sage sorbet on top of slightly sweetened cacao nibs which are usually VERY bitter. I actually tried to prank my wife and have her eat the cacao nibs before anything else and they ended up tasting sweet. Mission failed. Back to the point though, they had to serve this brownie cold or the creams would have melted and the sorbet would have been sauce by the time it reached our table. There were lots of different textures, and flavor profiles that I appreciated in the dessert. You had the crunch from the cacao nibs, the cherries gave their texture, the creaminess of the cremeux and ganache, and the cold, smooth texture of the sorbet. I liked the pairing of cherry and sage in the sorbet, it made the dessert feel lighter than usual brownie desserts. They garnished it with red veined sorrel as well which was pretty cool. Neither of us ever had a dessert garnished with leaves before so it was appealing to the eye.
For anyone who is big on wine pairings with food I think you should give this place a shot, we would probably go again after they replace some items with newer things in our interest. I hope you all liked this food review and look forward to next week’s recipe.
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