Yesterday was our one year anniversary. We celebrated by checking out brunch at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore (www.woodberrykitchen.com). We had dinner there for the first time a few weeks ago and really liked it. Great oysters (good selection of local varieties ranging from salty to sweet), many dinner choices I could have happily ordered, interesting cocktails that were well-made, and this ridiculous dessert called a CMP. CMP stands for chocolate (sauce), marshmallow (fluff), and (wet, cinnamon-y) peanuts and I’ve since heard it was featured on the Food Network. It was insanely sweet, decadent and delicious. It had malt ice cream. Anything with malt ice cream must be good.
Yesterday’s brunch: Since it was our anniversary and they knew it, I didn’t say a word as they led us to a table upstairs in the corner. It was tucked away and more romantic than most of their other tables (think close-together-I-can-hear-my-neighbors-chew-NYC-style). However, with every step I saw the lovely natural daylight slip away. Crap. My first foodie fun with my new camera was going to be a challenge: flash + food photography = no-no. I’d have to wing it, sans-flash. You’ll see how I did.
To start, I ordered a drink I was ordered to drink. The Woodberry Kitchen makes something called The Full Monty: a Bloody Mary with candied bacon and a Natty Boh* chaser. Tommy hates tomatoes and most iterations of them but the candied bacon and Natty Boh made it a-drink-someone-must-try, that someone being me. Now, when someone asks me what my favorite foods are I don’t even hesitate to rattle off tomatoes, watermelon, and Jersey sweet corn. BUT no matter how much I try to like Bloody Marys, they just don’t do it for me. This one was no different. So I won’t can’t tell you whether it was a quality BM or not but I can tell you it was spicy, salty, had a homemade Old Bay-esque rim, and some serious, chewy, stick-to-your-teeth-delicious candied bacon with it. In fact, I might suck down another one some day to yet again try to like a Bloody Mary, but more to eat that yummy pork candy again. (PS they forgot my Natty Boh chaser but I wasn’t too sad)
Tommy ordered a Gov’t Mule that consisted of Prairie organic vodka, housemade ginger beer, lime-ginger syrup and was served in a copper mug. I loved the copper mug. It reminded me of summer picnics with my parents; we each had our own copper mug that we used to drink icy red birch beer from a keg. Tommy loved it because it stayed cold and looked cool. It tasted good too. Normally, neither one of us gets excited about vodka or drinks made with it. After all, the best vodkas are made to taste like nothing so what’s the point? Give me a bitter Campari apéritif or a smoky Islay scotch and we can talk. I digress. How about a picture of this yummy drink? It was very refreshing, not too sweet, and a bit spicy from the ginger beer and syrup:
Maybe he liked it because it reminded him of his wife: coppery with some green accents 🙂
Shortly after our drinks arrived came a giant plate with a giant slice of Monkey Bread and ‘Happy Anniversary’ written in chocolate.
Digging into the labyrinth of cinnamon…
It was full of cinnamon, sugar, and caramelized versions of both on the crusty bits. We made Monkey Bread when we were younger. It was bits of yeast dough rolled in butter, then in cinnamon sugar, and piled up in a buttered bundt pan and baked. Simple and delicious. WK’s version was so good: warm, soft, and chewy with the perfect amount of sweetness and cinnamon. I’d order it (again).
Onto breakfast! I ordered the Hangtown Fry: a plate of soft, creamy scrambled eggs loaded with fresh oysters, bacon, and shallots. They were delicious. The oysters were perfectly oyster-y and briny, and perfectly cooked. The bacon added a bit of smokiness and chewy pork goodness. It also came with “skillet potatoes” which I wasn’t really impressed with. Some of the potatoes tasted re-heated (something I can always taste and always hate) but the flavor beside that was standard breakfast potato (onion, salt, pepper) and okay. There was some white toast too which is made in-house and was perfect to scoop up bites of oyster-egg-bacon heaven.
Oops forgot to mention the microgreen salad. Nice little bonus that cut through the creaminess of the oysters and eggs.
For Tommy, a dish with some Southern lovin’: Smoked Chicken, Andouille, & Grits with a poached egg and red eye gravy. He’d never had red eye gravy (a Southern specialty made with pork drippings and coffee) so I encouraged him to go for it.
Did I mention they have a butcher on site that makes all their sausage and smokes the meat? Consider yourself told… and warned… all the meat we’ve had there so far is delicious and may become habit forming. It shouldn’t be surprising that the andouille was made by John the butcher… and was a-mazing. I don’t typically eat a lot of sausage. Love the flavor – hate the gristly bits. This sausage is now an exception to that. The texture was tender and even. The smokiness was perfect. If you’ve ever been to a pig roast, the flavor is akin to how the air around the roasting pig would taste. You know, like if you could lick the air. Not just smokey, definitely pork & smokey. The grits were well-cooked and the gravy was pretty good. I think it could have been a bit stronger for my taste. One sad kitchen treat note: the poached egg was overcooked. No cutting open to behold beautiful, runny, yellow goodness oozing over sausage and grits on this plate. Nope. Maybe some slight ooze-age but mostly a solid yolk that stayed put. See sad, shy yolk here:
To finish up this decadent meal, I ordered a Pink Mimosa. It was a delightful combo of blood orange juice, St. Germain Elderflower and sparkling rosé. Elderflower, to me, has a lychee-type flavor to it, but better. I normally enjoy it in margaritas or with seltzer. Even though I know the flavor of elderflower well, it was quite hard to tease it out of this drink’s flavor components. Still, I enjoyed the orange oil & rind flavor (rather than weak orange juice flavor) and its pretty swirl of candied orange peel garnish. It was simple and sparkly, just fine for the end of brunch.
Overall, brunch was lovely and full of first anniversary love. We enjoyed our food and each others company. We’ll definitely be back at the Woodberry Kitchen for dinner and most certainly the cocktails. I’m thinking we have one more brunch there ahead of us too. After all, they have malted waffles… with pear compote and whipped cream. They had me at malted. That’s gotta be a tasty kitchen treat.
*Natty Boh is short for National Bohemian Beer which is a beer that used to be brewed locally in Baltimore. It’s a really light, pretty crappy beer that’s perfect on a really hot summer day when it’s so stifling you barely taste it. I liken it to the Natty Light that we drank in college – not so good but cheap and serves its purpose. Probably would be better in one of these: