Rich had meetings with a client in D.C. for the latter half of one week and the first parts of the week after, so, instead of him flying around like a crazy man, we called my very favorite sister in Maryland and I flew out for a visit.
By (happy) coincidence, my very favorite (it’s PROVABLE!) niece was going to a banquet in Baltimore celebrating the first anniversary of her cousin’s restaurant, By Degrees Cafe, and was able to add the three of us to the party.
Darned good thing she could, too; the dinner chef and owner/operator Omar Semidey put together was fantastic!
The restaurant is dedicated, in Chef Omar’s words, to: shifting the culinary landscape “by a few degrees” to focus on what’s important: well-prepared & honest food, great service, and reasonable prices; and he does, too. I purposely ordered or sampled items on the banquet menu that I would usually avoid: beets, trout, and kale; and I loved EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT.
My sister, Dale, and niece, Michelle, were happy to be settled in to the very comfortable restaurant space and consider the banquet, wine, and cocktail offerings.
Sadly, the food was SO good and the company SO pleasant, that most of the images I took of the dishes that evening did not do the chef or his terrific flavor pairings justice – seriously, wilted kale, roasted artichokes, and a six minute egg?!? GENIUS! The kale was one of my ‘challenge’ dish choices. I’d given in to the inevitable and tried a kale salad for the first time this past summer at a restaurant I love way up North this past summer, and it was… not wonderful. THIS kale, with braised artichoke, olive oil fried bread, six-minute egg, roasted garlic and tomatoes, crushed pecans was a whole ‘nother story – and a whole ‘nother kale. Rich, smooth, almost buttery, it made me totally forgetabout that other, not pleasant, kale memory.
The rest of the menu? Check it out:
By Degrees 1st Anniversary Menu:
I had/tried: Potato, fontina cheese, and bacon croquet with tarragon aioli
Other options: No bacon croquet.
Beet Tartare: roasted beets, fried goat cheese, and black pepper crostini – I loathe beets, but LOVED this – and…
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad: golden raisins, toasted almonds, granny smith apples, buttermilk dressing – my niece loathes sprouts, and LOVED this.
Other options: Curried Butternut Soup or Mixed-Green Salad.
Spiced Tangerine & Orange Sorbet – surprisingly, refreshingly zippy! The
Secret Ingredient? BLACK PEPPER!
Seared Trout: apple wood smoked bacon, granny smith apples, tonato fondue, crispy brussels sprouts, curry emulsion – and… that YUMMY Kale Artichoke Roast: braised artichoke, olive oil fried bread, six-minute egg, wilted kale, roasted garlic and tomatoes, crushed pecans.
Other Options: Pan Roasted Chicken or Fennel Crusted Pork Shoulder
I had: Caramel Bread Pudding: caramel sauce, salted caramel ice cream
Other Option: Chocolate Sundae: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate pearls, whipped cream, and raspberry jam.
Thanks to my niece, Michelle for pointing the way, and thanks to Chef Omar, for putting together a fantastic meal.
If you’re in (or gonna be in) Baltimore, here’s what you need to know:
415 South Central Avenue in Baltimore, MD (just outside Little Italy)
They’re open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, and yes, you’re gonna wanna go.
Update: sadly, By Degrees closed in December, but I’m trusting my niece to keep us posted on where Omar goes next so we can check out his creations when next we’re in the area.