Friday, July 05, 2013

New Menu Items at Silo.5%

With its close proximity to Fort McHenry, Silo.5% Wine Bar in Locust Point wanted to offer a special menu for July which reflected the kinds of food and drink Francis Scott Key may have experienced at his favorite tavern. The result is their 1812-Inspired Menu available from July 4th through the 14th. I was invited to a sneak preview of the menu and its clear that Chef Scott Klein had a great deal of fun playing around with the local culinary favorites of the early 19th century.

We started off with a peppered venison jerky served with a side of dried fig chutney. Lest you think of jerky as those salty sticks on the convenience store counter, this jerky is mildly seasoned to preserve the subtle flavor of the venison, with the chutney adding a solid punch of figgy sweetness. Next up was the hot smoked rockfish, served with plain rice and pickled peas. The flaky fish is nicely smoky without overwhelming the palate, and the rice adds a textural element without competing with the fish. The pickled peas were new to me, and I was pleasantly surprised by their firm texture and slight tang.

Hot Smoked Rockfish - rice and pickled peas
On to the entrées, starting with salt-cured ham and crab. I chose to layer some of the ham and the sautéed crab onto the biscuit halves and eat it like an open-faced sandwich. The combination of the salty ham and the sweet crab worked well together, both because of their complimenting flavors and the contrasting textures. The succotash of seasonal vegetables added a bright contrast to what was becoming a rather protein heavy meal.

Salt-cured Ham and Sautéed Crab - buttermilk biscuits, seasonal succotash
For the meat-and-potato lovers, the pan-seared venison steak with roughly mashed potatoes and Rainwater red-eye gravy provides soul-warming comfort. The venison, which tends to be very lean, is expertly cooked to remain tender and juicy. The house-made molasses brown bread serves as a tasty sponge for the red-eye gravy, fortified with some Broadbent Rainwater Medeira. If you pair this entrée with a glass of Black Strap Grog, which tastes much like a gingerbread cookie, you may feel transported to the winter solstice, but who doesn't like a little Christmas in July?

Pan-seared Venison Steak - rustic mashed potatoes, Rainwater red-eye gravy,
and molasses brown bread
I was feeling a bit dubious about the sherry-braised rabbit pie since I'm not much on meat pies and most rabbit I've eaten has been too gamey for my taste, but this pie was a revelation. The crust was flaky but with a nice bite, the vegetables were tender, and the rabbit was succulent without any gaminess at all.

Sherry-braised Rabbit Pie - mire poix, potatoes, reduced braising liquid
Although I was quite full, I had to sample the dessert choices: apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream and rum & honey pecan pie with spiced clotted cream. Both were delicious, but I was especially impressed with the pecan pie. Opting for the more 19th century ingredient of honey rather than the modern corn syrup, this pie was less sweet and really highlighted the flavor of the pecans. Since unpasteurized cream is not available in the United States, the accompanying clotted cream was not as authentic as Chef Klein would have liked it to be, but it still offered a welcome touch of creaminess to cut the deep flavors of the pecan pie.

Along with the 1812-inspired dishes, the menu features several authentic-ish cocktails like the grog mentioned earlier. The drinks include the Hale Stone, with clear rye, brandy, and bruised mint; the Sangary, with gingerroot cider and Rainwater Madeira; and Nelson's Blood, a rum drink named after British Admiral Horatio Nelson. There's a story behind the name of the drink, but perhaps I should let the servers at Silo.5% let you in on that one. You can also partake of a wide selection of ciders and madieras.

Taking a stroll through Baltimore's culinary past was both enlightening and delicious. I never knew our forefathers ate so well.

Silo.5%
1200 Steuart Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
443-438-4044
http://silo.5winebar.com/

Silo.5% Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

* The meal mentioned in this post was provided free of charge by the restaurant. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats.

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