I never leave DC. I mean, I do, but it usually involves me leaving the city limits to go to the airport and hop a plane to someplace entirely different. Lacking a car, and any desire to travel more than 45 minutes from my home base, I often find myself neglecting the surrounding areas of DC – not just the direct “suburbs” but cities a little further out too. Fortunately on Saturday I had a chance to head up to Frederick, MD and sample some of the offerings for the Frederick Restaurant Week menu that begins today.
The Frederick Tourism council partnered with GM this year to promote their restaurant week and made an intriguing offer to a few DC area food bloggers – they’d give us one of their new GM cars to test drive for a week (I got a Buick Regal), and we could use it to come attend a tasting event in Frederick. Hey, I’m down. I never get to drive. Plus being around the Frederick area and seeing all the signs for Civil War battlefields reminded me how into the Civil War I used to be, and motivated me to make some trips up to area battlefields this summer. And honestly, Frederick has a super cute downtown and some intriguing restaurants, I definitely want to corral a car and head up there again this summer.
Here’s a quick look at the items we sampled that will be on restaurant week menus.
First stop was Firestone’s Culinary Tavern, where we sampled shrimp & grits with a slice of homemade bison sausage and a biscuit. Very good. The grits were smooth but still had a little of the coarse texture I like, and the biscuit was flaky and buttery.
Next stop was Brewer’s Alley, where instead of just a small tasting, they pumped us full of an appetizer, a dessert and a sampling of two of their restaurant week entrees. Here is their chicken kimchee spring roll with a tomato cream, their baked cod topped with dijon bread crumbs and tomato basil served with old bay butter and smoked pork belly with roasted garlic mashers, wilted spinach and orange-jalapeno jus. The fish was very tender, flaky and well cooked, the spring roll pleasantly tasty. The smoked pork belly was fine – I like the crust they had formed on it, but the garlic mashers, damn, they weren’t kidding, you could taste some very raw garlic in that piece.
We also sampled some of the roasted pork tenderloin with a savory herb rub & mushroom demi-glace from The Red Horse restaurant.
Our final stop proved to be my favorite, as we ducked into Shab Row Bistro and their mixologist/head bartender made us a drink called “Honor Amongst Thieves.” Very delicious, smooth and refreshing, it featured American Harvest vodka, Domaine de Canton, St. Germaine, and a house brew of green apple, cloves, allspice, star anise, and cinnamon. Try it. The food here was also my favorite dish of the tasting, a goat cheese ravioli, with broccoli rabe, mustard greens and a sage sauce.
All in all a fun tasting afternoon. I was surprised (although I don’t know why, I’m an overly DC-centric person) by some of the culinary talents I experienced – and didn’t even get to try Frederick’s best known restaurant, VOLT. So if you live near Frederick or want to take a trip up there to try one of these places for restaurant week – get on it. I’m certainly looking forward to wandering around the city sometime in the future.