The Food Market in Baltimore is sort of like the coming Winter in Game of Thrones. Everywhere you go you hear of the “Food Market”. Every single person I have talked to about this restaurant has always raved about it. I decided it was about time that I see for myself what all the hype was about.
The first thing I did was use OpenTable to book a reservation for this place. A place like Food Market typically requires a reservation in advance because of its popularity. Using OpenTable is so much easier than having to call the restaurant itself and make the reservation. With OpenTable you can just download the app on your phone and you can literally set up a time to eat at a 5 star restaurant in a matter of seconds. The future is here people!
Funny story, I worked on the bid to do the renovation for Food Market before it actually became Food Market. The renovation for this space was very involved and the final product is very very impressive (from a construction standpoint)
But I digress, immediately when you step into Food Market you see that the space is tastefully decorated to create a cool/hip vibe. It contrasts from the rustic hipster chic that Woodberry Kitchen has helped cultivate, that’s not a knock on Woodberry Kitchen’s decor I like theirs too. Basically, when you step in the Food Market, you know that you are in a “cool” spot.
Oh I forgot to mention, they have free valet which is super convenient, especially for those of us who don’t enjoy parking (i.e. Me). The space is a little noisy, but it’s closer to “energetic” in the noise department.
The house bread is a delicious focaccia-esque bread that was warm but still spongey. It soaked up the olive oil quite well.
Food Market has an eclectic menu that delivers comfort foods with high-end flair. Honestly, the menu has so many mouthwatering options on it to do this place justice you need to go a few times.
With options like soft pretzels, pork belly, fried brie, and street tacos the small plates/appetizer menu alone is enough to warrant another trip back. The inner fat kid in me loves when high-end restaurants like Food Market take on simple classic comfort food dishes. Because it allows you to try your favorite comfort food prepared in the best way possible (hopefully).
We started with the panko crusted brie and the pork belly. The brie itself is fried with panko and it’s served with apples, bread, and a cherry jam. All of it worked well together as the acidity and sweetness of the apples balanced well with the cheese. But it’s not really hard to screw up brie, at least let’s hope not. The real star was the pork belly, this was cooked to perfection. The brown sugar glaze and the smokey flavor in the pork belly delivered a dish that made you crave more.
The diverse dinner menu yielded a wide array of choices from our table. Beef Spare Rib, Soft Shell Crabs with Texas Toast, Steak Frites, Duck Breast, and Crab Cakes.
Every single dish was cooked perfectly. The Beef Spare Rib which was served in a large crunchy tortilla bowl stole the show though. It was flavor yet tender, the pieces of meat would literally fall apart. The soft shell crabs were breaded and deep fried and served along with what appeared to look like savory french toast. It was delicious.
I ordered the duck breast because I’m always a sucker to order something that I don’t readily have at home. The duck breast or “duck-n-berry ” as it’s called at Food Market is a well seasoned piece of duck breast along with a corn pudding, spaetzle , pecans, and blackberries.
The duck breast was cooked just right and it paired very well with the corn pudding. The corn pudding in all honesty was the star of the show, it had a creamy consistency with tiny chunks of fresh sweet corn along the way. The only real dud on this plate, was the spaetzle. Having had it in Germany during my travels I’ve come to expect it to be prepared a certain way and it just wasn’t prepared the way I’ve always known it to be. This spaetzle was dry and chewy as opposed to the soft and delicate texture it usually has. I don’t think the spaetzle was prepared poorly, I think it was just prepared in a different way, so I won’t knock it too much.
Lobster Mac & Cheese was on the menu and had to be tried, because well I have to try the house mac and cheese where ever I go. The mac and cheese left a little to be desired, I was hoping for more lobster and a more flavorful and creamy cheese sauce than what I received. That’s not to say it wasn’t good it just wasn’t exactly what I had hoped.
The crabcakes were excellent and were on par with any other fine crabcake establishment in Maryland. But in Maryland you become jaded well prepared crabcakes.
Overall the dinner service was still excellent, if not for the spaetzle and the mac & cheese the dinner would have been flawless.
The real star however was the dessert service. We basically ordered every dessert on the menu because #calories. Food Market creates desserts that satisfy your comfort food cravings in a way that you could never imagine. The heath bar bread pudding stole the show as it had the perfect salty and sweet flavor of heath bars melted into the flawlessly prepared bread pudding. Too often bread pudding is flavorless and dry, this was exactly the opposite. Get this when you go.
The cheesecake was a handwhipped strawberry cheesecake that almost resembled a fruit parfait. The graham cracker crust was served on the top, with the strawberry filling and delicate cheese filling underneath. This was perfection. The cheese filling was delicate, flavorful, and moist meanwhile the strawberry filling had just the right balance of sweet and tangy. This is another must have when you go.
The creme brulee was a well prepared creme brulee with a delicious mango custard. I always tend to avoid creme brulee because it’s typically well prepared everywhere and I think most high-end places put it on the menu to satisfy those who feel every good restaurant should have it. Lastly, we tried the donut holes which were delicate little balls of happiness.
The real stars were the bread pudding and cheesecake, when you go, order those and you will leave a very happy customer.
Overall the Food Market delivers at every step of the way. The kind and friendly staff doesn’t exude the typical pretentious hipster vibes you tend to experience when you go to a trendy restaurant. What I loved most was that the staff doesn’t give you the life story of the protein you’re being served, I don’t care if the chicken was a lover of shakespeare and enjoyed long walks on the beach. I just want to know if it’s tasty or not. Some of the farm to table places now love to go into finite detail of every ingredient on your plate. When all you want to do is eat in peace.
Food Market has been hyped up and it deserves to be. You cannot call yourself a foodie and not visit Food Market. Download the OpenTable app, make a reservation with said app, go to Food Market, stuff your face, rinse and repeat.
P.S. for those of you who were wondering the bathroom was very clean, spacious, and well decorated. The only downside was there can be a wait for it because there is only one men’s and one women’s bathroom. But they wisely added an “in use” switch so the bathroom user doesn’t have to sit in fear awaiting the impending door knob jiggle that inevitably comes from single stall bathrooms.