Sunday, August 02, 2009

Woodberry Kitchen

I saw The Little Dog Laughed performed by the Mobtown Players at Mobtown Theater last night. Funny at times, emotionally charged at others. It was well done. The play ended at 10 exactly, so I had some time to head over to the Woodberry Kitchen. I had heard about a fave dessert of the Duffman on (yes) the Food Network, a sort of marshmallow-peanut concoction served in a tall drinking glass, with a sugar "lid" melted on top that you have to break through to get at it. This was on the Food Network's new, somewhat useless new show The Best Thing I Ever Ate (I guess they needed to find another venue for the irritatingly belligerent judges from Chopped). I guess it's not so useless, since it's encouraging me to try places I have not been in the area yet, all because of Chef Duff. Thanks, Duff.

So I set out to Woodberry Kitchen in search of this dish. At my late hour of arrival, there were still some seats in the still-crowded venue. It is a lovely, rustic place in an old converted foundry (hell, the complex is called "The Foundry"). Be warned: parking is precious, so unless you're walking from the Mobtown Theater parking lot or parking at the Foundry parking lot, expect to pay for valet service. Then again, if you have the money to eat at Woodberry Kitchen on a regular basis, you probably can afford to use valet parking all the time.

The place ain't cheap, but they're not using crap ingredients either. Woodberry prides itself on using only local ingredients from the region - Maryland, southern PA, Delmarva and Eastern Virginia - specifically the Chesapeake Bay. They boast their selection of oysters and other seafood from Maryland and Virginia. Since I came in for dessert, I hardly paid attention to the entrées, but I did notice the price tags - they regularly averaged around $25. That's apart from the appetizers, cocktails, wine, oysters and clams on the half shell, cheese plates, dessert and coffee. It's a special occasion place in a rustic setting. So again, unless you're going in for cocktails or dessert, the place ain't cheap.

Before I ate my honey wheat bread (on the house), I asked for the dessert menu, but felt a little hungrier than I thought I would be, so I looked for some nice local seafood. Their stuffed Chincoteague clams ($9) were not only one of the cheaper appetizers, but also sounded particularly good to me. What I got for my money was a selection of six baked clams in their shells, stuffed with bread crumbs, bacon and chilies. The clams were nestled on a bed of hot, very coarse salt, in a hot metal dish. Each clam was juicy, and though the breading was worth eating in its own right it didn't mask the flavor of the clams.

My thoughts then turned to dessert. I was disappointed not to see the delicious dessert that the Food Network showcased, but there were lots of others that I had my sights on in the same $8 price range. One sundae featured basil ice cream and gooseberry syrup (interest piqued!). Another was a selection of various cookies and candies, made in-house. But I decided to go with the peach crisp with vanilla ice cream for $8, again made from locally grown peaches (and probably cream). If you're expecting Friday's-type absurdly gargantuan portions, you will be disappointed. Otherwise, it was a nice, manageable dessert, big enough to satisfy, not big enough to hurt. The peach crisp came in a shallow dish, so the peaches and the crisp were compact together, which I like. The vanilla ice cream came in a small ball to the side - good if you don't want your vanilla ice cream half-melted into the dish (if you do, just put the ice cream in the dish yourself). The topping was not as sweet as you normally expect in a peach crisp topping, but it doesn't have to be: the peaches and the ice cream are the sweet part of the dish.

The final bill was $18 after tax and before tip. I could have easily spent three times that if I had not eaten dinner before the play. We're not talking "The Charleston" prices here - it's not a very expensive restaurant. But you'll spend a lot of money if you're not careful, because there are too many interesting items on the menu. It's a damn shame they're not taking part in Restaurant Week, because I had some delicious food while I was here. Eh, maybe the next one...

Woodberry Kitchen on Urbanspoon


jmc said...

I love Woodberry Kitchen...but it is a little too spendy to eat there often. The cucumber soup I had last time I was there was magnificent. Cool because it was chilled but also hot/spicy.

Re: parking, the problem can be avoided if you take the light rail

Anonymous said...

The valet parking at Woodberry Kitchen is need to save up to pay for the parking.

VisitBaltimore said...

I'm with VisitBaltimore and we just shot a video of Spike Gjerde from Woodberry Kitchen. In it he talks about the location of the restaurant, its decor, the menu and their fresh produce. He even includes his favorite dish they serve! check it out at