Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frederick Restaurant Week

To kick off Frederick Restaurant Week, which runs March 2nd through the 8th, a special media event was held to preview some of the dishes diners can expect from participating restaurants. The festivities began at the Frederick Visitor Center where we were introduced to a sampling of hard ciders produced by Distillery Cider Works. First we tried the sparkling Celebration Cider, a blend of modern and vintage apple varieties which produces a mildly sweet hard cider akin in flavor to champagne. Woodberry is made specially for Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore using a blend of heritage apples and aronia berry juice. The combination of tart and sweet complements many savory dishes served at the restaurant. Finally, we tried the Winterfest which is produced in a similar style to ice wine to create a more full-bodied hard cider.

After the libations, we were ready for our walking (and eating) tour of Frederick. To stay on schedule, we were divided into groups of three. The Minx and I split off into separate groups so we could cover as many restaurants as possible. With so many restaurants and so many dishes on the tour, I'll limit my comments to a few favorites, but there is a slideshow below to give you a visual tour of the items we tried.

The cream of crab soup at the Cellar Door was a welcome surprise. Most cream of crab soups taste like wallpaper paste with some crab thrown in, but Chef Richard Belles's soup is a true crab soup slightly thickened with cream. Pleasantly spicy with ample pieces of crab throughout, I would like all cream of crab soups to taste like this. The Cellar Door also offered the lone dessert I had on the tour: a strawberry banana cheesecake fritter. Not too sweet, the flavors were nicely balanced and, of course, anything tastes better when it's fried.

Over at Firestone's Culinary Tavern, the Nordic Cod was a nice balance of flavors and textures. The mild fish sat atop slices of fried fingerling potatoes and a light soup of mint oil, ginger root, and nasturtium leaves. The combination was light and savory all at once. The entire menu at Firestone's will be available for Restaurant Week, so you can build a three-course meal to your liking. Up-charges may apply for some of the more expensive dishes.

The Minx sampled the Irish Nachos at Bushwaller's, an Irish pub. Sidewinder potatoes replaced the traditional tortilla chips, which were covered with jalapenos, red onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, and Irish bacon. Bushwaller's is also offering the entire menu for Restaurant Week.

Brewer's Alley served crispy Brussels sprouts that were roasted with kielbasa, dried cranberries, and spiced pecans and covered with a roasted poblano-honey vinaigrette. The grilled vegetable stack featured eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash layered atop a crispy goat cheese fritter and balsamic onions, with red pepper coulis and basil pesto. The whole creation was served with an arugula salad. The Minx was torn as to which of these was her favorite dish of the day but is leaning toward the vegetable stack.

We all met back at JoJo's Restaurant and Tap House where we were treated to a Session IPA. a deconstructed yellowfin tuna taco, and a chicken and spinach burger. The taco was adorned with "Dorito dust," tomato tempura, avocado, and cilantro lime sour cream. The spinach added color to the ground chicken burger, which was served on a slider bun with crispy fries.

We had a pleasant afternoon taking in the welcoming hometown vibe of Frederick and sampling food from some of its finest restaurants. For those who are not familiar with Frederick or who do not go there frequently, Frederick Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to take a drive and check out the growing culinary scene there without hurting your pocketbook.

Brewer's Alley on Urbanspoon

Bushwaller's on Urbanspoon

The Cellar Door Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Firestone's on Urbanspoon

JoJo's Restaurant & Tap House on Urbanspoon

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