921 E Fort Ave
Baltimore, MD 21230
We just hit up The Wine Market for restaurant week with our two friends, Wan and Nate. The Wine Market is a great little restaurant just a few blocks from our house. I've been for a wine tasting before and they have a great selection of wines, but I hadn't had much chance to try their food, so we figured Restaurant week was a good time to go ($35/person for a 3 course meal).
We sat outside on the patio and it was a beautiful night:
After ordering some glasses of wine/beer, we managed to organize our ordering to maximize the number of different dishes that we could try. First, we started with some excellent appetizers (I think I liked most of the appetizers more than the main courses). Our least favorite was probably this dish, the Hamachi crudo with soybean puree, fresh citrus, and pickled shitakes:
It tasted fine but was so tiny compared to the other appetizers and wasn't anything special. On the other hand, all three of the other appetizers were seriously fantastic:
(1) Pork braised short rib with parmesan polenta- this meat was so incredibly tender, the sauce was absolutely delicious, and paired with creamy polenta? Just about a perfect dish.
(2) Slow roasted pork belly with local sassafras consomme, daikon radish- umm, this pork belly phenomenon is relatively new to me, but hello! It is delicious. How can fat be so delicious? I don't know. This version was just melt-on-your tongue, exploding-taste-buds delicious. A home run for sure.
(3) Chilled corn soup with smoked yuzu olive oil, fresh and crispy herbs- okay, I know, chilled corn soup, right? Doesn't sound too great? So this dish might have been my favorite dish of the night. I mean, I'm still thinking about this soup. I kind of want some right now. The flavors were so perfect together- like biting into a piece of corn on the cob, the melty butter, a slight smokey taste from the olive oil, and then topped with those herbs- it doesn't get more like summer than this.
Then we moved onto the main courses. Unfortunately it also started too dark to take very good pictures, but I did get a shot of my dish, the pan seared scallops with tomato risotto, parmesan broth, and pickled ramps:
I'll let the photo speak for itself, but yeah, it was really yummy. Maybe not as memorable as the corn soup, but nicely cooked and flavored. The guys meanwhile both tried the pan roasted creekstone farm's sirloin with black truffle tots, tomato molasses, and sugar snap peas. It was quite good- the steak was done nicely- but my favorite part was the black truffle tots- they tasted like little fried truffle gnocchis. Let's be honest though, anything with "truffle" in it I'm going to like.
Wan ordered the bacon wrapped chicken ballantine with golden raisins, whipped potatoes, and borscht sauce. This dish was quite good as well! The raisins were a genius addition I thought.
For dessert, we decided not to bother with sharing, because we all wanted the same thing: the chocolate pretzel pave with malted milk powder, dijon caramel, and oatmeal stout ice cream.
I don't even know what "pave" means, but this was an excellent dish- deeply chocolate-y, with the salty pretzel crust- a perfect combination. The oatmeal ice cream was quite delicious as well, though I wish the scoop had been a little bit larger. :)
Overall, we had an excellent meal at The Wine Market, one of the best we've had in Baltimore. Here's the downside- service was terrible. It started off slow and only got worse. I thought maybe it was because of Restaurant Week and maybe they were just really busy- but towards the end we were one of the only tables and our server would just disappear. At some point of the meal, we all started trying to waive various servers down, just to get a spoon, and were basically ignored. We resorted to drinking out of the soup bowl. It must have taken 30 minutes after dessert to finally get our server to give us the check.
It's really too bad service was so awful- because the rest of the meal was near perfect. Nonetheless, I'd give them another chance, and just hope we had better service, because the food was so high quality, and the wine and atmosphere guarantee a great time.