Baltimore, MD 21211
Has anyone ever eaten at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore?! It was freaking good!
Jack was humoring me and letting me pick some sort of food adventure when we were down there. I went a little crazy scheduling us and when he harrumphed, I cut waaaay back till Woodberry Kitchen was the only place left. I knew he would love it once we got there because I’d found it on all sorts of Farm-to-Table lists. Gourmet.com had it, opentable.com ranked it pretty highly, and everything I read sounded like this would be our slice of local, sustainable, grass fed, organic-heaven.
The night before we went, I mentioned that we had breakfast plans and our friends looked at each other and agreed that they MUST come. Who knew that friends from Atlanta, whom we had not seen in years would be into the farm-to-table movement half as much as we were?!
It was no problem changing the reservation and once we got there, after circling the block a few times to keep us from being too early, we were seated just next to the open kitchen where I was able to watch all kinds of action. The cooks all looked completely happy and into the mission at hand. My best view was of the brick oven which was constantly being used for brunch pizzas and shirred eggs.
Our water, Ejeon, was chatty and familiar with all of our home cities. I think he was even a Mets fan! When he heard that we’d come all this way, he took pity on our inability to try everything on subsequent visits and sent out the few things that we hadn’t ordered but HAD to try. He was right about every single one.
We started with coffee and donuts… The coffee came in a large press with an egg timer sitting on top and milk, cream and a couple kinds of sugar. The donuts were immediately pulled from the oil with chocolate drizzled on them. I had an orange juice that was of course, freshly squeezed and perfect for the morning. To complete the coffee and donut moment, Ejeon also suggested that we try the Bignets which were small, slightly crisp with a great dusting of powdered sugar and served with house made blueberry compote.
Then, we all dove into the Truck Patch frisee salad with goat cheese. The strawberries were small and quite possibly wild, or at least not from a greenhouse. Because we were all trying to pace ourselves, we did not demolish this dish, but it sat and called to me from the center of the table the entire meal.
One of our friends had the Vegetable Biscuits and Gravy, which were pretty similar to Jack’s Sausage and Biscuits so I will discuss them together. The gravy was thick and filled with herb and meaty flavors, the sausage was perfectly seasoned and cooked The biscuit…well the breads at this place were all amazing. It was buttery with a steamy inside and a firm crust that stood up to being smothered completely in gooey delicious gravy.
Jack also had a drink called The Full Monty Bloody Mary. It came with scallions, candied bacon (which was crazy good. It was a slightly sticky sweet outside with a crisp strip of bacon to hold it up) and a beer chaser.
Our other friend had the Crab Benedict and right when I was about to espouse all of my knowledge as to why no one should ever eat anything with hollandaise sauce, EVER (unless they make it themselves), Ejeon arrived and said how frequently the kitchen makes the hollandaise. I was speechless. I almost ordered benedict-something myself. It was like he knew what I was thinking. Readers, you never hear me mention wait staff as a reoccurring character in a meal, but I wanted to give this guy a serious shout-out for being upbeat and totally in tune with what we wanted.
The crab cake consisted of huge great chunks of crab meat that made our crab connoisseur-friend grin from ear to ear. She was not terribly into potatoes so all energy and focus went to the final crab cake of her Maryland trip (where she had successfully consumed crab cakes three or four times I think).
The English Muffin was supposed to be a perfect rendition of the classic; something rare to find. They succeeded in getting a fresh baked taste as well as nooks and crannies that you look for in a good Thomas’ English muffin. The flavor itself was similar to that of the biscuits as well as the toast that came with my eggs, all delicious, but the crannies. I gotta hand it to them for the triumphant nooks and crannies.
My own Shirred Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms, Housemade Toast and Potatoes were my low point. Not that they weren’t good. They were. But everyone else’s food took things to a new level. Shame on me for trying something different. Ejeon even said that if people were sticklers about degrees of doneness for their eggs, they should not order he shirred eggs. As a traditional English preparation, a few eggs are put in a small dish and baked as they fall. So you have some yolks that are soft and some that are closer to hard boiled. I liked it, but I was actually coveting some sort of sausage and gravy over an English muffin with hollandaise. Not really guys. That would all be sort of gross together.
We were coaxed into splitting the basil ice cream, also house made. While we waited for it, we noticed the strawberry salad, sitting there, all alone, waiting to be….oops. we finished it in four simultaneous bites.
The basil ice cream was not as sweet as one might expect and it tasted almost minty with hints of vanilla bean. We were assured that when basil is THAT fresh and ice cream THAT house-made, it takes on the characteristics of all of the extra herbs. I’d have it again, but would be too intimidated to try to make it. What if I went to my garden, picked some basil, made ice cream and it didn’t taste like basil-mint-vanilla bean!? I would wonder what wasn’t fresh enough. But maybe I’ll try.
If you are in the area, go. Even if you’re only passing through the area, go. I would absolutely drive out of my way to stop in Baltimore, where after seeing the Wire, Jack tends to avoid, and get myself some biscuits and gravy and strawberry salad, coffee with an egg timer and ice cream. I mean, how can such a breakfast be beaten!?