Woodberry Kitchen has earned an excellent reputation over the years in the Baltimore food scene. That reputation is built on excellent ingredients, rustic cuisine, and culinary wizardry that’s been unmatched until just recently. Anyone you speak to, the first question they ask you when discussing the Baltimore food scene is, “Have you been to Woodberry?” That’s usually quickly followed up by, “Did it live up to the hype?”
I can honestly say that Woodberry Kitchen lives up to the hype and fails to live up to the hype all at the same time. How is that possible? It just depends on what expectation you have walking in. If you are expecting an amazing meal, great service, and a fun cozy atmosphere that has you thinking you are eating in a renovated barn, then yes it lives up to the hype.
If you walk in expecting your mind to be completely blown and that your food palate can never be the same because nothing could ever be as good then well no, it does not live up to the hype. But I tend to side with the former rather than the latter.
The owner of Woodberry Kitchen was recently awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic, and deservedly so. Gjerde has helped put Hampden, one of Baltimore’s local neighborhoods, on the map as the top area for Food in Baltimore. Woodberry Kitchen is Gjerde’s Camelot and you feel like you’re walking into some sort of farm/hipster castle when you walk in.
As soon as you walk in, you see wood stacked to the rafters creating the sense that you are in a old barn. Then the smell of wood burning in the air allows you to imagine that you are eating a meal in a cabin in the Shenandoah Valley. Finally, the well dressed rustic hipsters then let you realize that no, you are just in Hampden.
But the hipster staff aside, Woodberry Kitchen gets the details right. Even the hipster staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. There is a free valet, so there’s no worry about having to find parking, which for a fine dining experience can sometimes be a damper.
Now onto the meal. I’ve been to Woodberry Kitchen several times, for brunch and dinner. I can say hands down that the Brunch service is where you truly get the best experience. The dinner at Woodberry Kitchen is great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m always left wanting a little more (and maybe that’s a good thing?). But the brunch leaves me with the feeling that I couldn’t eat another bite because everything was so good I just might pop.
The menu which is sourced 100% from local ingredients has a great variety of options, even at Brunch. We started with a coffee cake, because ordering simple almost standard items is fun at a gourmet place like Woodberry. The cake was delicate with a delicious caramel undertone to it. The crunch on the top added a different yet pleasant dimension to the cake.
The true star of the brunch service is always the breakfast flatbreads. You have to order these when you go for brunch. The morning flatbread is out of this world. With sausage, ham, eggs, cheddar, and potatoes all baked into a flatbread (let’s be real it’s a pizza), you have all the savory breakfast flavors in one place. Baked in a wood fired oven, the smokey flavor builds into the bread and the breakfast ingredients to deliver a powerful breakfast punch. This is on the heavier side, but I can honestly say it is one of the best breakfast/brunch dishes in all of Maryland.
The Mobtown Fry is a Baltimore inspired egg based dish, it’s a delicately scrambled egg topped with a crab gravy, ham, and a piece of rye toast. The entire flavor combination works as the distinct crab flavor adds a nice seafood flavor to the eggs without being too fishy or overpowering. The rye bread adds a unexpected touch to the dish, the carraway flavor of the rye helps balance the richness of the crab gravy. Overall, a solid meal choice.
Lastly the quiche, this was the only thing that was disappointing. Mainly because the quiche was burnt, other than the burn on the crust the quiche itself was creamy and it melted in your mouth. Had it not been burned, it would have been another excellent dish.
Overall you cannot go wrong with Woodberry Kitchen. Despite some of it’s missteps, Woodberry Kitchen is the place to go to show off the best that Maryland has to offer. Woodberry Kitchen has affordable prices, free parking, and friendly service.
Final Rating: A