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Tavern Room at Fleet Street Kitchen

Updated: Thursday, March 13 2014, 05:59 PM EDT
Fleet Street Kitchen is already known for its impeccable locally-sourced menu, under the direction of Chef Chris Amendola; its beautifully designed dining rooms with their sparkling chandeliers; an impressive winelist developed by beverage director Tim Riley; and its handsome bar which features creative, hand-mixed custom cocktails. But the owners wanted to also create a slightly more relaxed, casual dining space in order to offer patrons an alternative to a more formal dining experience. And so they've introduced The Tavern Room.

The Tavern Room is a separate dining room at the front of the restaurant, with easy access to the neighboring barroom. The space features the same rustic yet sophisticated design touches that are seen throughout the restaurant, but the feeling is slightly less buttoned-up. Rather than the starched white tablecloths seen in the more formal dining rooms on the upper level, here, glazed butcher-block wood tabletops lend a warm, friendly feel, and comfy upholstered running banquettes allow tables to be clustered to seat any number of diners in a party. The seating flexibility lends to the casual vibe.

The Tavern menu is also a bit more relaxed, but features many of the same farm-fresh ingredients as that of the regular FSK menu, with a lower price point. Four sections comprise the menu: Tastes, Small Plates, Large Plates and Desserts. We started out with some of the savory housemade breads (baked fresh daily in the kitchens of FSK's sister restaurant, Cunningham's, in Towson). On the night we dined, the kitchen sent out some fun and hearty small plates and tastes for us to try: Bone Marrow with roasted mushroom duxelles and fennel; the Merguez Pretzel Bites feature lamb sausage and a zesty fennel and fine herbs mustard for dipping; Glazed Sunchokes are the kitchen's entry using this newly trendy root vegetable; a varied Charcuterie & Cheese board; and an excellent Braised Short Rib from Roseda Farm came with creamed spinach, red currants and veal jus. Another offering, Pig Face & Pickles, is exactly what you think it is: chef's choice of jowl, snout, chin, cheek, tongue and ears; it looked interesting, but we let that go to the more adventurous eaters at the table.

When it came time for the main course, I chose the Farm Chicken, which comes accompanied by spoon bread, hen-of-woods mushrooms, charred broccoli and chicken jus. It was wonderful-- the chicken perfectly crispy on the outside, yet meltingly moist inside and bursting with flavor. Others' entrees looked good, too: the Vegetable Ragout with seasonal vegetables and heirloom grains; Caramelized Sea Scallops came with a parsnip puree, glazed short rib and vela jus; Pan-Seared Fluke; a Confit Duck Leg; and a Braised Lamb Neck (another exotic item popping up on more and more menus). For dessert, I opted for the Warm Apple Clafoutis, which came dressed with an apple chip, salted caramel and pink peppercorn ice cream, and it was fantastic. The Triple Chocolate Pudding Bowl looked super tempting, and will be my choice next time. Other options include a Trio of Eclairs, a Chocolate Caramel Tart, a selection of ice creams and a duo of cheeses.

(Shown above: Farm Chicken with spoon bread, hen-of-woods mushrooms, charred broccoli and chicken jus, at The Tavern Room at Fleet Street Kitchen.)

Fleet Street Kitchen, 1012 Fleet Street, 410-244-5830Tavern Room at Fleet Street Kitchen

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