Monday, October 12, 2015

Bookmakers Cocktail Club

Though I had a cocktail at Bookmakers Cocktail Club earlier in the year, neither Mr Minx nor I had eaten there before recently. Bookmakers was participating in the annual Dining Out for Life campaign to benefit Moveable Feast, so we decided to give the place a try and support one of our favorite local organizations at the same time.

"Cocktail" is in the name, so we had to start off with a couple. I had the Blind Melon, made with St George green chile vodka, ancho reyes, fresh lime, watermelon, and Thai basil. It was fine. Maybe a little weak. Far more savory than I thought it would be. Mr Minx had the Grayson, with Bulleit rye, yuzu, ginger beer, Velvet Falernum, 1821 Japanese chili-lime bitters, and toasted cinnamon. So many ingredients! Much stronger than mine, with a pronounced bourbon flavor.

Our waitress seemed very happy to be there for DOFL and eagerly gave us both food and drink recomendations. We started off with the pork belly and a Caesar salad.

old grand-dad bourbon, cucumber salad
The serving of pork belly was pretty generous, and while the textures were great - soft fat, crispy top, tender meat - it was cold. Well, not cold exactly. Parts were room-temperature. When I asked our waitress about it, she said it was supposed to be that way. A little odd, but it tasted great, so ok. The cucumber salad was actually a mess of really tangy pickles that cut the fat of the pork nicely.

lemon confit, brioche croutons, white anchovies, parmesan crisp
I had a pretty damn classic Caesar. The platonic ideal, IMHO. Lemony, vaguely fishy, with light croutons and a lovely bit of crispy parm on top.

american cheese, smoked tomato & onion, red leaf lettuce, chef's sauce
Making a decision on an entree was difficult. Well, for me anyway. I went with the cheeseburger, intrigued that there are only so many of them available per night. It was impossible to eat as-is, since the rather firm bun had broken on the bottom so everything just sloshed out. I had added a fried egg, which would have made it too messy to pick up and eat anyway as it was too tall to bite. I knife-and-forked it, leaving much of the bun behind. Please, chefs, just use squishy buns for burgers. There's no need for brioche or any other type of bread (unless it's toasted rye, as in a patty melt) to touch a burger. It makes it difficult to eat and, if too big and cottony, muffles the flavors of all the goodies inside. Especially when the flavors of the components are as good as the ones on this sandwich. Loved the smoked tomato and onion, and the chef's sauce.

pappardelle, mint, sorrel, snap peas, green beans, goat cheese
Mr Minx had pasta, because that's his thing. I thought the pappardelle was a little tough, but he snarfled up that dish right quick. Lamb and mint really is a lovely combination in a pasta sauce, reminding me a bit of the famous mint love letters dish we ate at Mario Batali's Babbo (and I also attempted to recreate at home).

We wanted to run up the tab a bit to get the maximum amount of money for Moveable Feast (Bookmaker's was contributing 25% of the proceeds) so we also got a side dish of brussels sprouts, served with sweet and chewy candied bacon and parm. We eat a LOT of brussels sprouts (can't really avoid them these days, can you?) and these were among the best we've had. No pic, as the restaurant was dark and they were dark and the bowl was dark so the photos I took were even worse than the ones included here.

We also ordered a couple more cocktails. Mr Minx had the Thyme Collins. He's not a gin lover, but he wanted to see how much he hated the stuff if it was mixed up with thyme, lemon, and soda. It still tasted like gin, but it wasn't a turn-off. (For me, it's tonic that's the deal-breaker.) And I had what I'm going to declare as my favorite new drink - the Federale, made with Tapatio blanco tequila, Becherovka, cinnamon, fresh lemon, grapefruit, and mint. It was like the most sophisticated non-margarita margarita ever. I could have downed 3 or 4 (they are small) but that would have been dangerous.

We don't normally order dessert (at least not every time we go out) but for the sake of more money to charity, we ordered the baked mini donuts to share. Three each mini chocolate glazed and powdered sugar donuts were served with a little cup of coffee-flavored cream for dipping. I got the concept, but felt the donuts were dry (although the chocolate glaze was boss) and the cream was too liquidy.

In any case, despite minor quibbles, we really enjoyed the meal. Service was terrific, drinks were good, and so was the food. We got in and out just before it started to get really loud (one of the benefits of eating early - we can have a conversation without shouting with the rest of the shouting yahoos) which helped make it a good experience.

Bookmakers Cocktail Club
31 E. Cross Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

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