The Food Market, Hampden


Oh hey – it hasn’t been over a year or anything…

So I figured since my life goal is to be Anthony Bourdain, I should shift the focus of this blog to restaurant reviews and stray away from recipes. While I do love cooking, my 60-70 hour work week is not conducive to making home-cooked meals. And anyone who knows me knows that I like love am obsessed with eating out. I’m the girl who Googles, TripAdvisors, Yelps, and Bon Appetits the best restaurants in whatever city I am in. Why waste your time and hard-earned cashola at a mediocre restaurant when you can have one of the best meals of your life at a hole in the wall establishment right down the street?

My new job is also basically telling me to become a food critic. They want me to turn our restaurant, bar & lounge into a real contender in the Baltimore food scene. So they’re flipping the bill for me to check out the best of the best in Charm City. Happy Hours, restaurant weeks, and brunches galore. I eat out, they pay for it, and I report back with my findings. Sweet deal, eh?

This post is long overdue…I spent my 23rd birthday at The Food Market in the oh-so-trendy hipster neighborhood of Baltimore – Hampden. Located on 36th Street in the heart of the neighborhood, this stretch of antique shops, boutiques, and stylish wine bars & foodie restaurants is known as “The Avenue.” I had heard a lot about the restaurant before choosing it to be the place where I would celebrate my 23 years of living. Delicious food, a cool atmosphere, knowledgable staff, trend-setting menus. I was intrigued to say the least.

I made a reservation for 2 – one of my only friends in Baltimore & I were going to tear up the town. We ended up going to a diner and eating pancakes at 3 am with strangers only to be followed by dancing for the rest of the night at the new Horseshoe Casino until 6 am – so I guess you could call it a successful night.

When we walked into The Food Market, we were immediately aware of how “in” this restaurant really was. Luckily we made a reservation, as they were running a 1.5 hour wait. We checked in at the host stand, which was right in front of the entrance and separated by the rest of the dining area by a curtain. We stood by the bar while our table was being set and rubbed shoulders with 90% of Baltimore’s foodies.

The menu was exciting. Mind you it was mid-December, so our cocktails were holiday inspired – fresh cranberry, ginger, lemon, and vodka. We set out the night knowing we were going to splurge…on to the good stuff…the food.

We shared fought over finishing “Beets By Chad” for our 1st course. We both laughed when we saw the name of the dish and our server recommended it, so we were sold. It was paired with bright orange & pear, tangy feta, and salty pistachios. The whole dish was kissed with a perfectly balanced pomegranate vinaigrette. We knew we were on to a great start.

Emer got classic steak frites for her entree. Her filet was cooked well and her frites were salty & crunchy as they should be. But my choice was a step above the rest – seared tuna. My dad is probably still in denial that I am at the point where I would intentionally choose seafood over chicken or steak. (Side note: He scarred my sister and I for life when filleting a fish on our dock more than 15 years ago. Long story short – I didn’t eat seafood until I was a senior in high school. I started with a volcano roll at my most frequented sushi bar where I usually ordered chicken teriyaki. Deep-frying is always the best way to try something new – thank you, volcano roll for changing my opinion of seafood.) My tuna was blackened and seared beautifully. It was accompanied by addictive wasabi peas and “toasted rice” that I would like to have with every meal I eat for the rest of my life. So many amazing textures and flavors – oh yeah and the soy and caramel sauce made everything on the plate that much better. Sweet, salty goodness. I have a problem thing where I make noises when I eat something I’m really enjoying. You can ask Emer – I was thoroughly enjoying my meal.  I was a happy girl.

We managed to fit a scoop of Taharka Brothers ice cream in our stomachs at the end of the night – did I mention we split a bottle of Malbec with dinner? We got the honey graham flavor and it was life-changing. Taharka Bros is actually a local producer in Baltimore and is the same brand we carry at my restaurant, but we hadn’t tried this specific flavor. It tasted like childhood. I had flashbacks of Dunkaroos and climbing trees. Do yourself a favor and order it from their website – or go to The Food Market.

Overall, service was excellent. I wish I could remember our server’s name, but everyone there seemed very attentive and happy to be there. I can tell that The Food Market, for good reason, only hires people who care about food and the restaurant industry. It makes it extremely fun to eat when the people serving you are as excited about the dishes they are putting in front of you as the cooks who are plating the dishes in the back of the house. The Food Market is doing everything right.

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I will be back soon. And I will be sure to make a reservation.

Happy dining!


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