Monday, April 18, 2016

New Spring Menu at The Rusty Scupper

Besides its breathtaking view of the Inner Harbor, The Rusty Scupper has long been known for its clean, straight-forward seafood dishes. While those are always welcome, new executive chef William Wilt is adding some twists to the Scupper's menu with bold flavors and clever combinations. We were given an opportunity to experience this approach first hand while trying some of his dishes from the restaurant's spring menu.

Since April is tuna month at The Rusty Scupper (which features a different seafood each month), we started off by sharing the tuna tartare appetizer. The chilled ahi tuna was fresh and refreshing, accompanied by a wasabi aioli, a spicy red sriracha-style sauce, and a salad of greens tossed in a sesame vinaigrette. Crunchy sesame-dusted crostini were the perfect vehicle for transporting tuna to mouth, adding both texture and a flavor profile complimentary to the Asian-style sauces,

For her entree, the Minx chose the sea bass stuffed with a mixture of chorizo sausage and crab and served with whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus. Pairing such a powerful flavor as chorizo with the mild sweetness of crab seems counter-intuitive, but the combination works quite nicely. The whole dish is bathed in a slightly sweet dijon tarragon beurre blanc that is at once rich and herbacious. The creamy and garlicky red bliss potatoes had some of the skins left in--just the way I like them--and the asparagus was perfectly cooked. I kept sneaking nibbles off of the Minx's plate until she had to pull it aside, wanting to save some for her lunch the next day.

I opted for the blue crab ravioli. When serving ravioli, it seems that many restaurants are skimpy, providing only an unsatisfying four or five pieces. Chef Wilt offers seven plump pouches of perfectly cooked pasta holding a tasty filling of blue crab, topped with Roma tomatoes, asparagus tips, fresh herbs, and chunks of jumbo lump crabmeat. The firm crab lumps were an especially nice touch, providing a textural contrast to the creamier crab in the ravioli.

Although we were quite full, we had to try out some of their desserts. I went for the Callebaut chocolate indulgence: a slice of nearly-flourless chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a raspberry coulis. The cake was truly decadent, like rich fudge or a dense chocolate truffle, while the fruit sauce and blueberries added the right acidity and brightness for a spring dish. 

The Minx's Fuji apple bread pudding was stuffed with dried cherries and apples and doused in a pecan praline sauce. The pudding was moist and buttery with a welcome crispiness on top, like a really exceptional French toast. A bit of vanilla ice cream on the side aided in cutting the unctuousness of the dish. Alas, it was too large to finish after the rest of the rich meal (as was the chocolate cake) but it made for a lovely sweet treat the following night.

For decades, we've heard about "the runner's high." I never experienced such a thing during all those miles I clocked in my youth, but I have had on occasion experienced an eater's high, when all the elements of a meal are so fine that I feel euphoric about the experience. This was one such meal. We're elated that the Rusty Scupper, which has been a workhorse serving visitors to Baltimore's Inner Harbor area for decades now, has upped it's culinary game. It's about time that locals get in on the action. The views are spectacular, the exceptional service and white tablecloths make the place perfect for a fancy dress-up occasion, but the rustic architecture and menu of seafood favorites also makes the restaurant ideal for a weeknight dinner. Pay close attention to the Chef's Specials, which are a cut (or two) above the expected. 

The Rusty Scupper
402 Key Highway
Inner Harbor Marina
Baltimore, MD 21230

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