Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baltimore, MD

June 7, 2014

For my fourth week in the U.S. I was based in Washington D.C., staying in the home of a generous friend and colleague. She takes an active interest in the D.C. dining scene, as well as the wineries and restaurants of neighbouring states Maryland and Virginia. Baltimore MD is little more than a half-hour drive away, and my host helped arrange for dinner and a gig with a couple of her friends there during my stay.

In particular, she wangled us an early summer night's table at Woodberry Kitchen, one of the region's more upscale and well-known restaurants. The Washington Post article she circulated in advance set the scene - this restaurant is contained in a repurposed former foundry and it takes its local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients very, very seriously. All their meat and produce suppliers are proudly printed on the menu, and they rearrange their dishes as frequently as seasons and supplies demand it - often daily and sometimes even mid-service.

Though dietary requirements aren't explicitly mentioned on the menu, I daresay that most of them would be accommodated. This is a restaurant that requires a reservation, and the wealth of fresh produce and attention to every last ingredient should leave coeliacs, vegans and others in safe hands. The staff were relaxed, friendly, and knew the menu back-to-front so it'd be easy to ask them.

I liked Woodberry's attention to the drinks list too, which included a dozen unique cocktails, many including fresh fruits and house-made syrups. I especially appreciated their teetotallers corner, where I could order an Evening Breeze (US$5 ~ AU$5.30) of sweet cherry, green and rosehips teas muddled with verjus and maple syrup.

We sipped our drinks while we negotiated our food options. 'Supper' runs to a dozen pricey mains (only one of them vegetarian), while the snacks, flatbreads, salads and cold plates, soups and warm plates are half the price and more often plant based. We shared a range of these smaller dishes among the three of us.

The Dandelion Green Flatbread (US$14 ~ AU$14.90) was a stellar start, a woodfired dough spread with ricotta and a hint of honey, then strewn with tarragon and spring onion. It was so fresh and so green - if Spring has a flavour, this would be it.

The Marinated Vegetables (US$5 ~ AU$5.40) were not what we expected but shone through as my companions' favourite - a shallow dish of tomato, red onion and fresh beans in a tangy verjus sauce, scattered with popcorn and parsley.

The Wood Roasted Spring Onions (US$8 ~ AU$8.60) were dotted with a spicy peach sauce that reminded me of soy sauce and miso, and had a little extra savoury crunch from crushed peanuts.

At this time, we were presented with a complimentary plate of strawberries with lightly whipped ricotta and a basil garnish (priced at US$5 ~ AU$5.40 on the menu). They made for a gorgeous palate cleanser towards the end of our meal.

The milky ball of Stretched To Order Mozzarella (US$11 ~ AU$11.80) was offset with crunchy oiled toasts, lots of pea shoots and a few hot peppers and some excellent condiments, a sweet peach mostarda and bitier radish top-pecan pesto.

The salads also impressed. Beets (US$12 ~ AU$12.90) were served small and tender on a swirl of herbed cream cheese, then layered up with radish slivers, pea shoots, crumbled blue cheese, a honey black pepper dressing and granola.

The Young Chard (US$12 ~ AU$12.90) looked a little more homely but shaved radishes and fennel kept it lively.

For dessert, we split a Strawberry Shortcake Pavlova ($US10 ~ AU$10.70) - neat crunchy discs of meringue (but none of the chewiness I'm fond of), strawberries fresh and in jam, whipped cream and buttermilk. The tweaks didn't play out quite as I might've hoped - the buttermilk wasn't tangy and the basil came in shocking clumps rather than subtle bursts. Nevertheless this was a nice rendition, and authentic enough to please me.

I was absolutely enamoured of Woodberry Kitchen - their ethos, their setting and their food. In other circumstances I might seek more vegetarian protein, but these guys clearly delight in fresh produce and it was infectious. It's taken me more than a week to write a post that wasn't just "fresh fresh fresh bright fresh colour fresh!". But that's just about all you need to know - these folks love fresh food.

The Ram's Head was less fresh and summery it was the venue for a great Lucinda Williams gig later that night.


Woodberry Kitchen
2010 Clipper Park Rd, Suite 126, Baltimore MD
(410) 464 8000
dinner menu, drinks, dessert

Accessibility: I wasn't paying enough attention, until I noticed three unisex disability access toilets on my way out! Thus I reckon the rest is probably in good shape.


  1. I am fond of chewiness in pav too - love the look of the flatbread and all the food - Lucinda Williams would be great to see - and E has just mentioned that Baltimore is where the TV series the Wire is set - we have just watched the first series but have the whole boxset to get through

    1. Hi Johanna - yes, we travelled through a rather Wire-like neighbourhood to access Woodberry. You've got a long way to go with that show!

  2. popcorn...popcorn in soup

    america I judge you

    1. Hi Fiona - I actually like popcorn in alternative settings! I can think of plenty other things I'd judge the U.S. for before that.