Just saw in the Frederick News Post that the County Liquor Board approved a wine and beer license for a new wine store. The board’s minutes are not yet posted on their website, but the paper reports that the store will be named Viniculture and will be located at 20 North Market Street. It seems like the downtown wine market is really getting saturated. Right now you have the dedicated wine stores Viniferous, Shab Row Bistro wine shop and Spin the Bottle within a few block radius. There are also several other establishments that sell wine: Firestones Market, Classic Cigars and Goodies and Juliets market come to mind.
PS Been to Spin the Bottle twice and really liked it. Review coming soon.
Two spirit oriented events coming up fast:
Friday May 3rd: Bourbon 101. A tasting featuring small-batch bourbons. This is part of the Frederick First Friday celebration. I had no idea this existed. If you check out their web page you can see they have a whole series of spirits tastings lined up for 2013. I’d love to try the Bourbon one, but can’t make it on such short notice. But scotch in September and rum in October? I’m there.
Saturday May 4th is the 2013 Cigar and Whiskey Night to benefit Pry House Museum and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. More information HERE
Just had a delightful lunch at Acacia courtesy of Frederick restaurant week. For those of you whose experience with this establishment has been limited to looking at the small area visible from the sidewalk on Market Street you should know that Acacia is truly a lovely space. You will also be surprised by how large it is. Tastefully decorated in muted, contemporary tones, the space continues back through two more separate dining areas and culminates in a beautiful courtyard. The food is contemporary American mixed with Asian influences. I know the term fusion has become a clichéd term in food circles, but Acacia does it well and does it authentically. I also really liked that they try to use all local and natural meats. Their menu states they use all natural pork products from Dorsey’s Meats of Woodsboro and local grass fed beef from Hedgeapple Farm of Buckeystown. There was also at least one vegetarian option for each course of the restaurant week menu.
Since this was restaurant week the worst part of the meal was having to choose only two courses out of appetizer, entrée and dessert. I opted for the appetizer/entrée option and started with the seared brussels sprouts. Wonderfully charred with just the right amount of salt and oil they were spectacular. I would have been satisfied to stop right there. Bravely, however I soldiered on with the Kung Pao chicken. The menu describes this dish as :”natural raised chicken stir fry, spicy hoisin glaze, peanuts, jasmine rice, black sesame-pea shoot salad.” It was perfectly spicy with delicious bits of chicken in a savory brown sauce. I also sampled the Jagerschnitzel- wonderfully crispy breaded pork tenderloin. The red cabbage marmalade was a terrific accompaniment to this dish.
Any food blogger can take a picture of the dish before you eat it. The remains of my Kung Pao chicken
I would also be remiss without mentioning that they had an excellent and varied wine list. Also available were nearly two dozen wines by the glass. I had a the top-notch Dr Loosen Reisling. It was great with the appetizer, but completely overpowered by the spice in the chicken. The negatives? First I thought the service was a trifle slow. The only complaint with the food was the pre-appetizer bread they served. Both I and my companion thought that it was not as fresh as it should be.
Overall I give Acacia high marks. It certainly is in the top tier of dining in Frederick . The ambiance is quite romantic and it would be a wonderful place to take a date. I plan on going back and enjoying the patio area once the weather warms up. I would also like to visit the bar one afternoon- their collection of scotches looks excellent.
Just a reminder in honor of Frederick’s restaurant week that the master list of my restaurant reviews can be found on FredList HERE. Please feel free to leave feedback!
Is nearly upon us! It will be March 4th through 10th. 22 local restaurants are offering prix fixe, multi course lunch and dinner menus. Full details HERE. I plan on hitting a couple, how about you?
I have to admit that I am such a geek that I regularly read the liquor board minutes. Having attended a few hearings in my other capacity I am always stunned by how antiquated the laws and procedures are. It offends the libertarian in me how controlled the process is (and that other owners can get up there and protest the issuance of a new license because there are already other stores in the area). However as an avid beer wine and liquor consumer you can find some interesting tidbits in the minutes. From the most recent hearing on February 11th, 2013 besides the usual transfer requests I did note the following items:
A store called Spin the Bottle was granted a conditional license for 220 East Patrick Street. Another store called Viniculture put their license application on hold because they could not come to terms with the landlord at their proposed 57 East Patrick Street location. If memory serves that was the location of the old Deli?
Lastly a conditional license was issued for a new store down in Urbana in the Fingerboard Plaza shopping center (same place where Mangie e Bevi is located). The name on the application is Orion Wine and Spirits.
Filed under Beer, Booze, Stores
I’ve been meaning to review this place for a long time. There’s something about Firestone’s that seems to slide under my radar, and it really shouldn’t and I can’t give no good reason why it does. Perhaps its just my radar is off? It has certainly had its’ share of accolades: Firestone’s is one of the few Frederick area restaurants to hold a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence. Not only that but they’ve done it for eight consecutive years! It is consistently mentioned in the top restaurants in Frederick Magazine’s annual awards. Anyway on a recent afternoon I went there with two friends for lunch. The first thing that strikes you is the space: it has a beautiful old feel. Lots of dark wood and brick. Large two-story windows overlooking Market street prevent the space from feeling too dark. The bar is a masterpiece of woodwork. There are tables on the bar level and on a mezzanine level that overlooks the bar level. The whole effect is making the place feel cozy and inviting in an old-fashioned way without the slightest hint of cliché or kitsch.
The food is what I’d call classic American. On the day I visited I sampled the pulled smoked pork shoulder sandwich, the grilled free range chicken breast sandwich and the smokey grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato. They were all quite good. If I had to pick my least favorite it would have been the chicken. I was a trifle bland and overcooked. The accompanying sides were excellent. You had the option of fries, but also a pasta (orzo) salad (really good) and a cucumber-vidalia onion salad (also excellent). Unfortunately after two Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ales I was too full to sample anything else, and also completely useless for the remainder of the afternoon.
And speaking of drinks the drink selection was top-notch: They have something like eighty beers and a constantly rotating selection of drafts. Also as expected from a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence winner a great wine list. About 20 of those wines are available by the glass. I was also happy to see that nestled amongst the world spanning list they have a Maryland wine or two. Wine prices were decent.
Overall a place I have been to before and will continue to visit in the future. A great place to take guests since there really is something for everyone on the menu (vegetarian options as well). Next time I think I’d like to go back and sit at the bar and sample some of their wines and appetizers.
Firestone’s Culinary Tavern. 105 North Market Street, Frederick, Maryland
Just saw that Moxie, the lovely bakery way up on North Market Street has closed. Their location so far away from the downtown center had to hurt it.
It has been a little over a year since I reviewed the Wine Kitchen in Frederick. I am happy to report that having eaten lunch there this week they are as strong as ever. I sampled the beet salad, butternut soup, fish and chips and curry chicken salad sandwich. All were very good. On the drinking front their flights of wine have changed, they’ve added flights of whiskey and bourbon and their cocktails are delicious. I especially liked the Sparkling Good Time (cava, lillet rose and orange bitters). My companion had two Vida Locas -their version of a margarita .
I have updated my FredList page with a master list of most of the restaurant reviews that I have done here over the years. Check it out.
A nice front page article in today’s Frederick News Post about Monocacy Brewing Company’s release of the first in a series of nine beers commemorating the Civil War. Antietam Ale is an English-style bitter. The article says besides being sold a Brewer Alley it will be available in bottles. Anyone seen it yet?
UPDATE: I also saw that WHAG did a feature on Antietam Ale. It had the interesting factoid that “the label is only the second U.S. beer bottle in history to feature a picture of the American flag.”
Little old Frederick is now big enough to boast two Cuban restaurants, which I have ignored long enough. I decided to dip my toe into the world of Cuban cuisine by starting at Sabor De Cuba, located at 9 East Patrick Street in downtown Frederick. Let me first digress by saying I don’t have much experience with Cuban cuisine, so is Sabor authentic? I really can’t tell you that. Is is good? The answer to that is a qualified yes. Like any restaurant it had its pluses and minuses. The restaurant is tastefully decorated in muted beige, white and brown tones and projects a casual atmosphere. When I was there the noise level was on the low average side. On the walls hang photographs of the classic 50′s cars that Cuba is known for. There is a small bar in the center. My one complaint? You can probably guess if you are a regular reader: the TV above the bar which was on. A pet peeve of mine. In a sports bar? Sure. But in a restaurant, not appropriate.
The service was attentive and timely. As we were seated the waiter noticed a crumb or two on the table that we had not seen. He immediately apologized and corrected the mistake. We started off with a mojito. Sabor had an interesting twist; the mint was pulverized into small flecks in the cocktail. However, I am sorry to say that I was disappointed in the mojito. I found it to be way too sweet, which overpowered the lime and completely obscured any mint flavor. At $8 a pop I’d give it a pass. Hope springs eternal so I would be willing to give the Cuba Libre a try. Alas my sobriety was required so I limited myself to one cocktail. While we are on drinks I was disappointed by the wine selection which was listed on the menu as simply Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio etc. That is usually a warning sign to me and a source of great frustration. Why more smaller restaurants don’t just list a few specific wines is beyond me.
On to the food. Honestly I believe we made a mistake. No one with me was extremely hungry and we did not order any appetizers. I have since heard from several people that the empanadas are one of their best items on the menu. We went straight to the entrees. The first thing that struck me when the food came was how monochromatic it was: everything on all three plates were shades of brown, with some white and black thrown in. But, as they say, the proof is in the eating. The Ropa Vieja (pulled flank steak) was good. The conji (cuban rice) and plantains were flavorful. The Pollo al la Plancha was excellent and by far the best out of everything I sampled. The dish consisted of a breast of chicken, pounded flat and marinated in citrus. The citrus flavors really came through. The pollo was accompanied with some white rice and black beans which were underwhelming. The plantains were also pounded flat and fried, but I found them to be rather tough and chewy. The final dish sampled was the picadillo (cuban chili), which was also good, but very mildly spiced.
VERDICT: The food was good and different. The prices were average. Not a bargain but not what I’d consider expensive either. I am intrigued by this cuisine and there is also plenty more I’d be happy to sample on a return visit.. How does it stack up to the other Cuban restaurant in town? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Check out Jan’s comments. They are very helpful. As I mentioned I really have no baseline to determine the authenticity of their cuisine. All I can say is what I like.
The official grand opening of JoJo’s Restaurant and Tap House was this past weekend. They had a soft opening a couple of weeks ago. Occupying the space formerly known as Patrick’s Pub I wish them the best of success and will check it out. Anyone go and have any first impressions?
I just wanted to pass along a blog I discovered. Food & Frederick. It’s been going on since March 2011 but somehow it has been off my radar until I saw it mentioned on the excellent McCutcheons blog. McCutcheons, which I read all the time, has been mentioned here and long been on my blog roll. Food & Frederick is new to me. Both are worth reading and following. I really like the photography on Food & Frederick and Sarah has inspired me to try to do a little better than my crappy iPhone pictures.
Since some of you have asked here are my top five places to buy wine in and around Frederick. Since I work downtown, I primarily shop around the city area so there may be some worthy stores in farther flung locales that I am not aware of. In order of preference:
1. The Frederick Wine House. I like this place because of its love of wine is apparent from the moment you walk in. They have a friendly, knowledgable staff that often has tasted the wine you are interested and can steer you towards what you want. I trust them so much that when pressed for time I just walk in, tell them what I am eating for dinner that night and how much I want to spend. They hand me a bottle, I pay for it and walk out the door confident that I am going to have a great wine. I also like that they make a terrific effort with their frequent tastings, and their live video tastings with winemakers. Guy the beer guy is an encyclopaedia of beer as well. All this helps to make it my go-to place and favorite store in Frederick.
2. Spirit Shoppe. They have, arguably, the best wine and beer selection in Frederick so that’s why I list it here. They have depth from all around the world and their selection of bargain priced wines is worth exploring and changes frequently. If you read about something in a magazine and want it this store is your best chance for finding it around here. What I don’t like is that their service is sub par. I have been going very regularly for 21 years and can count on one hand the number of times I have been asked if I need help. The people that work there spend 95% of their time behind the counter and I have no confidence that they have any knowledge about wine.
3. Viniferous. Since my first review of this store I have been back many times. I have found the owner to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They may not have the breadth of selection of numbers one or two but they have a nice quirky collection of wines that you do not see anywhere else. I also like that they have everything from super expensive wines right down to the lower end. I never walk out of there empty handed. They have an active Facebook page that gives notice of their tastings and specials. As a postscript ranking this was a tough one. I hemmed and hawed whether they should be second or third on this list. I’m still not sure. Maybe just call it a tie for second?
4. Westridge Liquors. (No web site that I am aware of) Good selection but with indifferent, liquor store service attitude. Pricing in line with 1,2 and 3. Never seen sale here. On the plus side they have great depth in French wines.
5. Old Farm Liquors. While this place may lack the depth of some of the places above they do have some off beat selections and by far the best pricing out of all of the stores listed here. They have good sales from time to time. They also have the largest selection of prosecco in the area. If I need half a dozen bottles of prosecco or cava for a party this is the place I go.
The Maryland Craft Beer Festival is tomorrow at the Frederick Fairgrounds. Weather forecast looks beautiful. Some of those VIP beers look fascinating; Green peppercorn trippel or wild sour cherry porter? Here is a guide to the festival from the Gazette. You can still buy the discounted tickets at their site as of this morning. I wonder if I qualify for a press pass?
For years Frederick managed to survive without a single cupcake store, but now we find ourselves in the enviable position of having two within 400 yards of each other. I reviewed the original cupcake bakery, Angelcakes, here about ten months ago. Since that time a newcomer opened up: Sweet Angela’s Cupcakery. Of course this begs the question; which is better? To answer that pressing question I first had to try the wares at Sweet Angelas. Whereas Angelcakes is chrome , white and Tiffany blue the minute you walk in to Sweet Angela’s you are greeted by a sea of pink. It reminded me of a nursery of a couple who are expecting their first daughter: pink on the walls and bright pink boxes.
Pink is the theme at Sweet Angela’s
I picked up a four pack of their chocolate-chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, Southern Belle (red velvet) and yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Cost $10. On their menu they have five daily flavors and had a dozen specialty flavors but on the day I visited the only specialty flavor available was the chocolate peanut butter. Drooling I headed for the office where we conducted a taste test.
I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get all four on film.
I found the cupcakes to be incredibly moist. The icing was very sweet but there was slightly less on the the cupcakes than Angelcakes which I liked (see my review of Angelcakes for my feelings on icing). Two of the cupcakes, southern belle and chocolate peanut butter had cream cheese based frosting as opposed to the standard buttercream. So who’s best? Here is my take you decide what’s important to you:
Color: AC (What can I say? I’m a guy I prefer blue)
Cupcake SA (Much moister than AC)
Price Tie ($2.50 each at both places)
Selection AC (seven standard varieties and specific rotating daily specials)
The Frederick News Post reports that Bryan Voltaggio’s (and Hilda Staples’- don’t forget the other half of the team. The media, including this article, always seems to forget her) new restaurant will be named Family Meal. A first or second week of June opening is slated.
Channel 9 video on Adam Frey’s new Frederick county farm brewery. I’d card the reporter though.
Brewer’s Alley released a special wedding beer, Wedding Alt, with customizable labels. How about a divorce one? Should it be something dark and heavy or light and celebratory?
The Grateful Gourmet tries a Frederick County wine and finds he likes it.