More Meat Please

Vegetarians beware – at Parts & Labor in Remington, they use all parts of the animals they serve which means even the bread is served with pig fat in lieu of traditional butter. Even I was a little squeamish about that one along with the fact that it is communal seating and that they don’t post their menu online, but my husband is a more adventurous eater than I am so I tried to get past all of that and go in with an open mind. I’m glad I did because the food was out of this world. The meat-focused menu is definitely unusual: it’s broken into small plates and salads, hearty plates, butcher’s cuts, sausages and sides. You are encouraged to order a bunch of different dishes and share which does get a little pricey but gave us the opportunity to try many different flavors.

We had a 7:30pm reservation and when we arrived we were seated at a long table with two adults and four children. I was super impressed with how will behaved the kids were and how they seemed perfectly content with steak and corn on the cob for dinner (it isn’t exactly what I would call a kid friendly menu). Adam and I started things off with a drink – I got a cocktail our server recommended with vodka, fernet, sage and honey and Adam got a pony of beer. They have a fantastic draft list and ordering the small 5 oz pony allowed Adam to try multiple options throughout our meal (he started with an Allagash Confluence for you beer aficionados).

part and labor cocktail

When it came time to order we opted to try a little bit of everything and got something from every menu category except for the hearty plates. The handful of hearty plates are a little more like what you would expect to see on a menu with a meat served with some accompaniments. The food also comes out sort of like tapas, they bring it over when it is ready. This contributed to the only little snafu of the evening when the steak we ordered never appeared and it was only after we inquired that we were told they had run out of it. No worries though, we chose another steak off the menu and it was delicious.

Without further ado, our meat feast:

part and labor charcuterie

Salthouse Plate – from the small plates section, we started with some charcuterie: finocchiona, basturma and coppa. They gave an explanation, but I really have no idea what we were eating other than they were delectable salted, cured meats. The finocchiona was the favorite of both of us, it was a harder, chewier salami and the flavor was fantastic.

Goat Sausage – we joked on the drive over than no way was I going to eat goat or any of the more unusual meats that might be offered. Well, I caved. The goat sausage was served with tomato peach relish and it was one of the best things I ate all night.

Grilled Summer Squash – thick cut zucchini and squash cooked with brown butter, honey and oregano. It was very good and had absolutely no meat which was a nice break from our animal-filled meal.

parts and labor cheeseburger

Raw Cheeseburger – exactly what it sounds like – steak tartare served on  tasty bread with all the traditional toppings you’d find on an actual hamburger. Or, at least the hipster version of those toppings: onions, dill pickles, egg yolk, tomato honey, mustard and fish pepper. This was definitely the most unusual dish we ate and one of the best. The flavors went really well together and the steak tartare taste still stood out – I was a little afraid the other things would overpower it but that wasn’t the case.

part and labor cheese burger and salad

Bibb Salad – we saw one of these salads get delivered to a neighboring table and knew we had to order one. Bibb lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, tomato, smoked ham, scallions and a buttermilk dressing. The salad was fantastic, the green beans were nice and crisp and the heirloom tomatoes were juicy and delicious. The smoked ham (because obviously, more meat) had a great flavor that went nicely with the dish.

Plate Steak – they offer four cuts of meat and we first ordered the flank. When we were told they were out of it we switched to the plate which is apparently the most similar. I had never heard of this cut of beef, but some googling tells me it’s also called skirt steak which I am more familiar with. It was cut into the strips and served with herb relish. It was also delicious, but a little chewy. At this point we were super full and had the last few bites packed up to bring home to our dog, Jack.

Parts & Labor

Location: 2600 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21218

Price: $30-50 a person, more if you really go to town like we did

Highlights: Meat, meat and more meat. They aren’t joking around. They know their meat and it is delicious!

Advertisements

Sobo Cafe: Pasta Mondays

Happy Monday!  I have been thinking lately that instead of “Summer Fridays” that a lot of offices have, there should be the option for “Summer Mondays” where you can come in a couple hours late on Monday morning. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to ease into the work week? Unfortunately, that’s probably not in the cards for most people, luckily there’s something else to help get you through the Monday struggle: Sobo Cafe‘s Pasta Mondays.

sobo sign

If you haven’t been to Sobo yet, go. Go now. It doesn’t have to be on a Monday, it can be any day of the week at any time. All of their food is incredible and the small restaurant has a cozy neighborhood feel that I love. The menu changes seasonally, but standbys like the appetizer spreads, mac and cheese and chicken pot pie are always available (and always amazing).

Side note: this weekend we tried Sobo’s brunch for the first time and it did not disappoint either. Mimosas are a little pricey at $8 a pop, so if you’re looking for a boozey brunch Sobo probably isn’t the place, but if you’re looking for reasonable portions of delicious breakfast foods this is just the ticket. I don’t care for hollandaise sauce, but was craving poached eggs so I ordered the biscuit benedict sans sauce. The eggs were served over fluffy biscuits, black forest ham and spinach with home fries and fruit on the side. The yolky eggs dripping onto those biscuits was perfection (they have their own pastry chef so all breads are made in house and are the bomb). Adam ordered the smoked salmon omelet with sunflower wheat toast which he also loved. He said the salmon and capers were particularly flavorful. We sat at the bar and enjoyed our breakfast while watching the Wimbledon men’s final so it was pretty much the ideal morning. It was packed, so I’d definitely recommend making a reservation if you plan on visiting for brunch.

brunch at sobo brunch at sobo2

But back to pasta night… Every Monday, Sobo’s chef cooks up a unique pasta dish – pair that with a house or caesar salad and a glass of wine for just $20 and you have the best deal in South Baltimore. When Adam and I went a few weeks ago we got both the caesar and house salad and shared. I expected to prefer the caesar, but the unique flavors in the house salad went so well together it was incredible. The greens were tossed with a vinaigrette and topped with spiced apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickled onions and blue cheese. The pasta was also out of this world: spaghetti with olive oil, roasted tomato, garlic, romano, basil with a fried egg and some shaved parmesan on top.  I cut up the egg and mixed it all together to coat the pasta in a light cheesy, eggy sauce.

sobo salad sobo caesarsobo bread

sobo pasta

Be sure to check Sobo’s facebook page to see what the chosen pasta dish is for tonight. I do sort of wish they had a couple of options available each Monday, because if you don’t like the day’s ingredients you are SOL for the deal (which just means you can order something else fabulous from the menu so I guess not the end of the world). Hope the promise of delicious pasta (and wine!) tonight helps take the edge off your Monday! And the folks at Sobo are big O’s fans, so you can count on watching Manny Machado in the Homerun Derby while you eat.

Splurge-iversary

Even though we got married about seven weeks ago, Adam and I decided to celebrate one last dating anniversary Friday and went to dinner at Cinghiale to celebrate! Cinghiale is a Foreman Wolf restaurant, as is Charleston (IMO the ultimate splurge to end all splurges restaurant in Baltimore) and Petite Louis Bistro. We had heard mixed things about Cinghiale, but have had fantastic meals at the other two restaurants so we decided to try it out. It was a great spot for young(ish) people who want a little splurge, but don’t want to break the bank. We each got the four course prezzo fisso for $62 which allowed us to try a nice variety of dishes. We also aren’t huge drinkers and only had one cocktail or glass of wine each –> this isn’t for everyone, but it definitely helped keep our final bill more reasonable.

cheese antipasta

After we were seated and ordered our drinks, our waiter brought us a small sampling of cheese and crackers with what I think was a sort of tomato jam.  I used to be more into soft cheeses, but lately I’ve been digging the hard cheese and this one was delicious! For my first course, I started with the grilled calamari with crispy carrots. I felt like the portion was surprisingly large and very tasty! I did think it was a little heavy on the red pepper flakes which the dish didn’t really need.

grilled octopus

For my primi course I got the squid ink farfalle with lobster and for my main course I got the pork belly with poached egg. The lobster meat in the pasta was ample and delicious, but the pasta itself didn’t wow me and again, heavy on the red pepper flakes. The pork belly and poached egg (pictured below) were delicious and served with a small disk of crispy polenta. By this point I was very full, but still managed to eat most it. The curly green things you see are fiddlehead ferns which I had never heard of, but apparently Martha Stewart can tell you what to do with them and one website refers to them as the “succulent stalks of spring” and they were pretty tasty – sort of comparable to a more chewy asparagus.

pork belly

I’m kicking myself because I can’t remember what this dessert was called, but I think it had salted caramel ice cream and grilled bananas and it was very tasty!

dessert

All in all, we had a great time! The food was a little inconsistent but the service was outstanding and it felt like a special date night spot.

chianghiale collage

Cinghiale

Location: Harbor East, 822 Lancaster St, Baltimore, MD 21202

Highlights: The service, complimentary cheese, interesting menu, fantastic dessert and very tasty grilled calamari.