In case you haven’t heard, there’s a wonderful tradition that’s been happening in Frederick, Maryland for the last four years: Frederick Restaurant Week!
Frederick, Maryland is a quaint suburb just north of Washington, DC and west of Baltimore. It also happens to be where I grew up and have lived for the last 33 years. When people think of Frederick, a few things come to mind: farms, Carroll Creek, Francis Scott Key (author of the National Anthem!), our beloved “Frednecks” and of course, Downtown Frederick.
Downtown Frederick has come a long way since I was a kid, particularly in the last ten years. It’s an adorable district full of clothing, antique and specialty shoppes, including a few of my personal favorites: The Trail House, Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Eporium and Colonial Jewelers. My engagement ring and wedding bands and wedding dress all came from small businesses downtown. I practice yoga at two different studios downtown and like to walk my dogs and go running in Baker Park.
While there are so many great places to go downtown, but what really makes it special is the food. There are so many great restaurants to choose from, it’s hard to even know where to start! Greg and I definitely have a few favorites, and when we go out to eat, it’s almost always somewhere downtown. We get really excited for restaurant week, because it makes it much more affordable to eat at a few different places and sample the best of what’s to offer.
Frederick Restaurant Week is a 7-day event (March 4-10) in which a number of local restaurants offer 2 and 3 course menus for lunch and/or dinner for a fixed price. Lunches are offered at $15.13 for a 2-course meal and $20.13 for a 3-course meal. Dinners are offered at $20.13 for a 2-course meal and $30.13 for a 3-course meal. (All costs are exclusive of tax, beverages and gratuity.)
Currently, more than twenty different restaurants are participating, including several of my favorite spots! You can peruse the menus here (and be prepared to wipe the drool from your chin as you read them).
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to sample some of the menu offerings from several restaurants that are participating in Frederick Restaurant Week. The afternoon began at the visitor’s center, where samplings from The Red Horse and Alexander’s were offered.
(A special thanks to my friend Kelly for taking such good, descriptive notes of all of the names of the dishes throughout the day!)
Duck Breast with Mandarin and Pomegranate Coulis and Shrimp Ceviche from The Red Horse
Sweet Potato Biscuits with Country Ham and Buttermilk Biscuits with Bacon and Pimento Cheese from Alexander’s
After leaving the visitor’s center, we were divided into three different groups to visit four different restaurants. My group’s first stop was at Lunchbox. If you’re a fan of Top Chef, you might be familiar with Bryan Voltaggio, who owns three different restaurants in Downtown Frederick (Volt, Lunchbox and Family Meal). I’ve been a huge fan of Volt ever since it opened, and have posted about several of my meals there on this blog. I also just visited Family Meal for the first time ever a few weeks ago.
Greg and I went to Lunchbox right after it opened- and to be honest, I was not impressed. Actually, that’s an understatement: I hated it. My sandwich was overly greasy and lacked flavor, and I hadn’t been back since. I was a little leary about trying it again, but hey- everyone deserves a second chance.
And, I have to say- I am so glad that I gave it another shot, because my mind is completely changed!
We were given a number of different foods to sample, including three different sandwiches:
Mom’s Meatloaf Sandwich (with tamarind ketchup, Gruyère, and onion marmalade on ciabatta)
The Portabella Sandwich (with Cherry Glen Farms goat cheese, pesto, and roasted pepper on ciabatta)
Warm Roast Beef Sandwich (with watercress, pickled red onion, Muenster & green goddess on 7 grain bread)
We were also presented with soup and salad:
Butternut Squash Soup (with Cinnamon Croutons)
Chicken Caesar Salad (with romaine hearts and an anchovy cracker)
My favorite sandwich was probably the meatloaf, though the veggie + goat cheese was a very close second. And the butternut squash soup? TO DIE FOR. We all had to practice great restraint to only take a bite or two of each dish, because there was sill a lot of food to sample at the other restaurants!
The great people of Lunch Box also gave us a sampling of cookies to try:
and luckily, to save our bellies, they put them in a cute little box to take home and enjoy later.
The second restaurant that we stopped into was The Orchard. I’ve been to The Orchard several times over the years, and have always enjoyed the food there. It had been at least a year since I last dined there, so it was nice to be able to go back!
Our dishes there included:
Eggplant Parmesan with Pesto Penne
Blackened Salmon and Cajun Rice
and for dessert:
Banana’s Foster Cheesecake
All of the food from The Orchard was delicious, but my favorite was definitely the dessert. I am not typically a cheesecake fan, but this won me over (and I will be dreaming about that caramel sauce for weeks to come).
Firestone’s seems to be the “place to go” to meet your future husband/wife- we know two other married couples that first met there!
I’m a big fan of Firestone’s for several reasons. The staff is very friendly and attentive, I almost always run into people I know there, and of course, the food is delicious! The manager and chef made took time to come talk to us about the menu before serving us a sampling of what they had to offer, and offered us a glass of wine.
Shortly after, we were each presented with a beautiful plate of food, which (thankfully!) contained three very small portions of samplings.
From front to back: Hangar Steak over Potato Stack, Duck Terrine wrapped with prosciutto and a Celeriac Slaw and Cola Float with Jack Daniels Ice Cream
And that plate soon looked like this:
It was the only time I was a member of the clean plate club during the entire day. And I really don’t know which Firestone’s sample was best- I call it a three-way tie! We all unanimously agreed that Firestone’s was the best food of the day.
The last restaurant we visited was Ayse. I’d been to Ayse once before and loved it. The one dish that stuck out in my mind were the Brussels sprouts, and I was very pleased when I got to try them again!
brüksel lahanası- crispy brussel sprouts / toasted walnuts / capers / currents / fried parsley / wildflower honey dressing
I DARE anyone who claims to not like Brussels sprouts to try these- they will definitely change your mind!
We also had:
Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves) with Lemon “Air”
Warm pita bread
The Mezze Platter- hummus, tzatziki and baba ghanoush
The last bite of the day was perfectly sweet:
I was very impressed by all of the dishes that I sampled that day, and now have the difficult task of choosing which restaurants I want to visit during restaurant week. I might have to resort to eenie-meenie-minie-moe!
I am such a fan of supporting local businesses and restaurants, and would love for you to do the same. The Downtown Frederick Partnership has donated a $50 gift card (which is redeemable at a ton of different merchants downtown!) for one lucky winner!
All you have to do to enter is this: take a look at the list of participating restaurants/menus and leave a comment telling me which restaurant you’d like to dine at the most. For an additional entry, tweet about this giveaway by copying the following text: Win a $50 gift card to use in
@DwntwnFrederick here: http://wp.me/p2oUXk-2qA #frederickmd
(Leave a comment below telling me if you Tweeted!)
Please only enter this contest if you live near or plan to visit Frederick, Maryland. Though Frederick Restaurant Week is a great time to redeem your gift card, it does not have to be used during that week!
I will be choosing a winner Monday, March 4th at 8pm EST and posting the results shortly after. Be sure to check back to see if you’ve won, so that I can mail your gift card to you right away!