Who would’ve ever thought that you could go have a nice dining experience inside of a grocery store? Well, I didn’t so if you did tell me which grocery store you went to, because “The Food Market” isn’t how it sounds. The Food Market is a restaurant located in the Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore, MD. Located off of West 36th St. a bustling strip of shops and locals which makes it the perfect place for a Friday night date spot or a nice happy hour to celebrate your accomplishments with co-workers who are happy for you but mad that you took their position they wanted. (Haha, it’s life, it happens) I was able to meet and speak with Award-winning Chef Chad Gauss, who informed me that this restaurant sticks to recognizable ingredients with a spin on its technique. The Food Market offers delicious courses, unparalleled customer service, and a recognizable dining experience. I had reservations at 5:30 p.m on a Friday night, so I knew finding parking maybe a little hard because of the time and day it was but no worries, the restaurant offers “FREE VALET”. Who doesn’t love free things, right? When going to restaurants I always plan to pay $20 for some type of parking and/or valet, but when you can save a little money on a dining experience, it’s worth mentioning.
Coincidentally, I arrived at the restaurant during the first day of restaurant week, which is an event that restaurants offer a pre-fixed menu that will offer restaurant selected items on the appetizer, entree, and dessert menu for the price of $35.10 for dinner and $20.10 for lunch. I opted to try a couple of different things both on the main menu and an item on the restaurant week menu. The restaurant is dimly lit, with just enough lighting to enjoy your company and see around you. It’s not the biggest restaurant, but you can take a large party in there if reservations are made in advance. The restaurant also offers a variety of unique foods and everyday foods. In my opinion it’s not known for one paticular dish because of all the different items that are ordered. So, let’s start off with some appetizers, shall we?
The first course that was ordered was the “Fried Oysters ‘Carbonara'” which including a bacon & onion dressing and black hot sauce. If you enjoy eating fried oysters then I would definitely recommend this item to try. The oysters were a nice serving size and the sauce packed so much flavor that you’d want to order more sauce to go. It was creamy, delicate, and packed alot of flavor. Oysters are one of those items that people are afraid to try, but if this is your first time trying I’d recommend going with fried before you go with raw. The reason to eat fried oysters first is because it hides the actual texture of the “sliminess” of the oyster, but don’t chicken out on trying raw oysters. If you’re on a date night and oysters appear on the menu, go ahead and try them raw. They are considered aphrodisiacs. You can thank me later, you’re welcome.
The second course that was ordered were the duck wings. Not so great moment : I thought the wings that I ordered were chicken wings fried in duck fat, not actual duck wings. So, when I ordered this item I more pleased with my decision because I got to experience something new. The duck wings were drenched in blackberry barbecue sauce, ancho roasted peanuts, and served with a side of brie cheese dressing. The brie cheese dressing was so good, I thought about ordering another appetizer just so I wouldn’t have to lick the cup that the dressing was in. Yes, it was that good! The duck wings were absolutely amazing as well. Once you start to eat them, it’s not like you’re eating duck, it’s like you’re eating a chicken wing dipped in barbecue sauce, so if you’ve never tried duck then now is the perfect time to have something you’ve never had. The wings were the perfect size for an appetizer where they provided you with three pieces and a generous amount of dipping sauce. Please order these wings as you won’t be disappointed, and if you are, let me know I will personally reimburse you.
For the main event surf and turf were ordered but let’s start with the surf. The Scallops Deluxe was ordered which was sitting on the top of a butternut risotto, roasted acorn & spaghetti squash, and bacon soubise. The scallops were pan seared to perfection and the risotto had the right amount of texture and creaminess that accompanied the roasted acorn. Squash and acorn aren’t necessarily everyday foods, but if I had the choice to have this everyday then I would. I would just have different meats prepared with it. The restaurant provided a generous portion of scallops and a huge roasted acorn sitting in the middle of the scallops. The scallops were very firm on the outside and a little soft on the inside. They had the right amount of flavors and consistency. I enjoy eating scallops because it’s one of my favorite seafood, but I also love all seafood so I could never answer the traditional question of “what’s your favorite shellfish?”. For all of those who are wondering, yes, scallops are shell fish, just reference google or Ricky from The Barbershop (swish). <– You’d have to watch the movie to understand the swish part.
Last but not least, let’s discuss the “turf”. Pistachio Crusted Lamb Rack with white bean puree, charred ridicchio, Parmesan, and balsamic syrup was ordered. OH. MY. GOODNESS. The balsamic syrup by itself, was good enough to throw all table etiquette out the window and lick the plate. I ordered my lamb “medium” and if you value your meat, you’d order all of your red meat medium too. I suppose if you order any red meat, medium well, we can still be friends, but if you order any type of red meat “well done” I don’t believe you and I can be friends. I may give you a head nod when I see you out with your family, but I’d never forgive you for ordered a “hockey puck”. No, order whatever your preference is, but I strongly believe the juices of the meat enhance the flavor of whatever animal you’re eating. Four lamb racks were presented and had enough meat on them where two people could eat them. If you’re really hungry, I suggest you enjoy them by yourself. The white bean puree, had the consistency of a creamy mashed potato, and could actually pass for it if you didn’t know what you were eating. The dish was beautifully presented and the lamb had the right amount of flavors to match consistently with the balsamic syrup.
Overall: The restaurant is reasonably priced with no single item being on the menu priced over $36. I would recommend this restaurant to everyone in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia area. If you’re traveling to see the Baltimore Ravens or Orioles, please stop at this place for dinner if you have the opportunity. You won’t be disappointed.