Wine Market Bistro

A couple of weeks ago I paid my first visit to Locust Point’s Wine Market Bistro for a planning dinner with my business school alumni club. Because obviously the best ideas are generated over a couple cocktails and three delicious courses. Obviously. If you are ever looking for a good location for private dining in the city, I can definitely recommend this place. The room was gorgeous (see below pic I snagged from their website), the service was fantastic and the food was out of this world. I can’t speak to the pricing since I wasn’t paying, but their menu is on the pricier side so watch out for that.

Private Room at Wine Market

We had a special three course menu and so many of the options sounded good that I had trouble deciding what to order! I ended up starting with the house made pasta which was made with sausage, roasted onions, poblano peppers and cherry tomatoes. It was a generous portion and the flavors were fantastic. The pasta was cooked perfectly – not too soft or too al dente (I thought it was soo much better than the pasta we had a Cinghiale).  The carrot and coconut soup with lentils and the cornmeal fried oysters also looked fabulous.

Wine Market Pasta Wine Market Soup

For my entree I had the halibut which was pan seared and served over sweet corn grits. It was topped with tomato jam and pickled okra. I discarded the okra but the rest of the dish was incredible. The fish was perfectly flaky and the tomato jam was an excellent complement. And the grits were so good my mouth is watering just thinking about them. I loved their interpretation of more traditional Southern foods.

Wine Market Halibut Wine Market Dinner

Like at many places, most of the dessert options had nuts (as someone with an allergy, I am always campaigning for more nut free desserts) so by default I had to go with the bourbon bread pudding with chocolate crème anglaise and cherries. Google tells me crème anglaise “is a light pouring custard used as a dessert cream or sauce.” Like my other two courses, this dessert was another winner. I don’t care for cherries so I just avoided them and concentrated on the bread pudding which was doughy and delicious, but could have used just a smidge more sauce. 

Wine Market Dessert

All in all it was a fantastic meal and great experience. The only negative was my first cocktail – it was described as a mint lemonade with cucumber vodka, but the cucumber flavor was totally overpowering. Clearly I should not have disregarded the name of the restaurant and for the rest of the meal I stuck to wine.

If you are interested in checking out Wine Market Bistro, they have weekly specials including a neighborhood night on Mondays. If you are more excited to check out their wine selection they are hosting a wine tasting event on September 1st – $39 to sample over 25 wines and enjoy their passed apps (call 410-244-6166 for tix).

 

Wine Market Bistro

Location: Locust Point, 921 E Fort Ave 

Highlights: Wine list, well cooked food with a Southern flare.

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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.

Hump Day Happy Hour

Is there anything more young(ish) than trying to make a meal out of happy hour? Gone are the days of pounding $3 rails on an empty stomach, I’m just looking for a nice cocktail and a date night that doesn’t break the bank. Luckily, there are a lot of quality happy hours in the city that fit those requirements and one of my faves is Ouzo Bay. The upscale Greek restaurant in Harbor East has a large, open bar space and happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7pm. With large windows and glass doors that open up onto outside seating, the whole place is airy and sunny on a summer evening. Bonus is that I can walk there from work downtown which is great since parking/traffic in Harbor East can be a little tricky around rush hour.

ouzo bay happy hour

I met my husband for happy hour a few weeks ago and started with a glass of white wine while we pondered our food choices. Ouzo Bay has a number of discounted small plates on their happy hour menu along with $3 bottled beers and reduced price wines and cocktails. On past visits we had tried pretty much all of the small plates except for the house spreads so we decided to order that along with our favorite grilled octopus. The spreads were delicious and served with triangles of pita. There was a fish spread, a red pepper and feta spread, a tzatziki spread , and some sort of nut spread that I blocked out because I’m allergic. While we waited for our apps we munched on a delicious bread basket because the more carbs the better amirite?

ouzo bay spreadsouzo bay octopus

After our first set of munchies we ordered a second round of drinks and that’s when we decided to go big or go home. We were both still a little hungry but couldn’t agree on a dish to order so we got the soft crab sliders and the lamb sliders. In retrospect, probably not necessary but they were both delicious. Each dish had two of the sliders served alongside homemade potato chips – you could probably make a meal from one of these alone, but where’s the fun in that? Our bill ended up being less than $70 including tip though we could have definitely saved money and still had a great experience if we had ordered less food and had beer instead of wine.

ouzo bay crabouzo bay

If you’re looking to get a little happy hour action into your hump day check out Drink Baltimore’s list of tonight’s happy hour specials!

Weekend Recap: more Italian food and NYC

Happy dreary, humid Monday, Baltimore! My day got off to a rough start when I walked half the way to work only to remember I had left my work laptop at home. Oops! Don’t worry, I got some coffee and now I’m feeling much more chipper. This past weekend was a great one though so it makes Monday morning a little more manageable.

Friday night Adam and I wanted a quick and easy dinner out and headed into Federal Hill to try out Brendali.  I had seen it promoted a few times on the Fed Hill neighborhood facebook group (hooray for grassroots marketing!) and Adam was on board to check it out. I think we both had Italian food on the brain after my Friday Five post.  The small restaurant was aesthetically not much to look at but the staff was friendly and it had a welcoming, neighborhood feel. It’s also BYOB so we brought a bottle of wine to share.

Fresh rolls at Brendali

Fresh rolls at Brendali

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Our meal started with hot, fresh baked rolls and a caprese salad. The rolls were perfectly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The caprese salad was also really good, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and a pinch of salt and pepper. The tomato slices were a little thicker than I usually see with this dish, but still very tasty. For my main course I got the chicken cacciatore and Adam got the linguine with crab sauce. Both were huge portions and we brought home leftovers. My dish was good, but Adam’s was definitely the winner – there was a ton of crab meat and a great marinara sauce. There were a lot of dishes that caught our eye on the menu and we hope to head back soon to try some other things. We hope the place succeeds since there aren’t any other Italian options nearby!

After dinner I came home to pack since I had an early morning train to New York. Saturday morning I arrived in Manhattan for a friend’s baby shower. The shower was held at an unlikely location – a wine shop in Tribeca! New York Vintners has a great event space and the shower hosts decorated with some nautical touches to match the “Ahoy – it’s a boy!” theme.

Nautical baby shower decorations

Nautical baby shower decorations

Guests enjoyed wine and sangria while the mom-to-be sipped lemon water and we munch on cheese, charcuterie and a make your own taco bar. We had a great time catching up though yours truly may have had one too many glasses of sangria. Sunday morning we went for a run through Central Park and had a relaxing brunch at Hundred Acres before catching a train back to Baltimore. It was a great 26 hours in Manhattan!

Linking up with Katie to read about the blogosphere’s weekend highlights.