Thursday, January 14, 2016

Waterfront Kitchen + Sapidus Farms Oysters

Next Wednesday, January 20th, Waterfront Kitchen will have a dinner featuring Sapidus Farms oysters. This farm dinner will be the second in a series that showcases the farmers and growers with which the restaurant partners. There will be an a la carte menu with products exclusively from Sapidus Farms, but diners can also order from Waterfront Kitchen's seasonal dinner menu.

Dinner will be served from 5pm to 10pm; reservations can be made here or by calling the restaurant at 410.864.0215. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, an organization that supports projects that plant new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Whether wild or farmed, oysters keep the Bay clean in addition to being good eats.

We're not able to make the dinner, so we went to the restaurant early to try some of those oysters. Raised in the Great Wicomico River, in Virginia, Sapidus Farms' molluscs are plump and clean-flavored with a light brininess. We tried them on the half shell with a fabulous, just-tart-enough, pickled vegetable mignonette and a garnish of peppery-earthy-herbal nasturtium leaf.

We also tried some items from the seasonal menu, featuring the culinary magic of the restaurant's new chef, Chris Amendola. Formerly of the Bagby Group and Bookmakers, chef Amendola's creations are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.

We shared an order of the roasted mushroom and ricotta ravioli with kale, brown butter, whey, and Parm. The dish was both delicate and hearty, featuring tender kale and earthy, umami-rich, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms over house-made pasta and ricotta.

The oysters in the fried oyster appetizer are not a Sapidus product, but still delicious in their delicate yet crunchy batter. Accompanied by tangy house-cured sauerkraut, lightly sweet beet remoulade, and pork belly, the dish is a lively combination of flavors and textures.

Neither Mr Minx nor I had ever tried fluke before, so we ordered the pan-roasted fluke with roasted cauliflower, pine nuts, brussels sprouts, and beurre blanc. The plate was almost too beautiful to eat, but we went for it. We noted that fluke tastes a lot like flounder--and that's because it is a flounder, commonly referred to "summer flounder." But I suppose it doesn't seem quite appropriate to use that name that when it's 20°F outside.

We had the rockfish, too.  Pan-roasted, like the fluke, it had skin that was delightfully crisp with moist flesh. And again, the dish was visually stunning. But rather than a buttery tender cruciferous veg accompaniment, this fish came with carrots galore: an outrageously smooth carrot ginger puree and a plethora of confit carrots. Dollops of hazelnut butter added a nutty complexity to the delicate sweetness of the carrot.

We passed on dessert this time, because too much of a good thing can sometimes be simply too much. Next time.

All of the dishes we ate yesterday are on the regular seasonal menu, so if they float your boat, make a reservation for any time. But if you want a more oyster-intensive experience, do check out the Sapidus Farms dinner next week.

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