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Woodberry Kitchen, Chef Spike Gjerdje's Farm-To-Table Gem in Clipper Mill, Clipper Park Road

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Went to Woodberry again last night (this is in addition to the wonderful meal I had back in January). This is another place that gets better and better with each visit for me. Highlights were the smoked onion dip w/homemade potato and sweet potato chips (I could live on this stuff!), the deviled eggs w/chipped ham, the flatbread (this time it was chorizo, goat cheese and sweet potato), and the scallop special I had was fantastic with these out of the world homemade hushpuppies alongside. I also thought my friend's ribeye was seasoned and cooked really well and came with a delicious, creamy cheesy potato gratin (I could do w/o the housemade steak sauce though, which tasted like glorified ketchup to me). And of course if you're an oyster fan, you can't go wrong with the raw or any of the cooked preparations (I'll take cooked, thank you very much ;)).

We picked this night to go b/c one of my favorite local musicians - Caleb Stine - was performing. With their live music on the first Tuesday of each month now, there's no reason not to go check out Woodberry (or go back if you haven't been in a while).

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The Baltimore Sun paper's dining blog mentioned that Woodberry has starting doing whole goat dinners for parties of 4-6 people. They are taking a locally raised goat and roasting the whole this head and all, and serving it with an array of sides.

I hear the price is about $185 and you need to pre-order this.

Anyone want to come up to give this a try?

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goodeats   

The Baltimore Sun paper's dining blog mentioned that Woodberry has starting doing whole goat dinners for parties of 4-6 people. They are taking a locally raised goat and roasting the whole this head and all, and serving it with an array of sides.

I hear the price is about $185 and you need to pre-order this.

Anyone want to come up to give this a try?

I just finally read about it and would be up for it. When??

Goat dinner blog post.

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Same here, and I'd bring a +1!

(and no)

(not)

(a bridge troll)

A few weeks ago a server from Woodberry told me it was a brief special and they're no longer doing it. He did say they might bring it back. If that's the case I know 2 more people who would be in (well, I'm a definite, I suspect Juliusc would be in as well).

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There's a buzz that the folks from Woodberry Kitchen are planning to open up a separate burger joint in Hampden on Falls Road in the near future.

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GennaroE   

Fantastic meal here tonight. From the astoundingly good bread -- perhaps better than any bread service I've had in DC -- to the desserts, it was just about all awesome. Well worth a trip to Baltimore, if only for the bread and their over the top disco fries.

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Wow-no posts here in nearly a year?!?!

Will have to rectify that though just with a placeholder for now,

Dinner here tonight. We were a group of 8. Between all we ordered and some freebies brought to our table, a most excellent meal with service every bit the food's equal.

Details tomorrow or next day but, in the meantime, I'll just say three things:

- excellent restaurant all around

- now I understand ChoirGirl's signoff! :-)

- cool news here we learned related to another recent thread (I'll link 'em once I get back to this).

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We had Easter dinner here last night, and as usual walked away very satisfied and happy. The whole WK experience is great--easy valet, friendly greeting, welcoming restaurant space, very good service--but the food still remains the star of the show. We started with the pig in a blanket and the ramp and ricotta fritters, served with prune and pepper jam and mustard cream, respectively. These were simple starters but really delicious, and while the plate of fritters was ample I could have eaten about 20 more with the mustard cream. We had the farro salad, almost a palate cleanser, and the beef tartare, a lovely and flavorful combination of clearly (and properly) hand chopped beef, served just this side of ice cold, with a horseradish cream and a just-cooked runny egg. Again, I could have just eaten more of this. We then split the chicken and biscuit entree, a deboned half chicken with crispy skin served with a fluffly biscuit and kale. Awesome. As always, we look forward to going back...

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I'm going to have to post something now from our dinner here this past weekend or it'll never post. This is a longer one so be forewarned those who don't like more detailed posts. Also, this one isn't as organized and informed as some I do. It was tougher because I didn't get a copy of our itemized receipt or take a copy of the menu--sheesh. So, with those caveats fully disclosed, here goes from memory.

CONTEXT

We were a group of eight including a couple of connected Baltimoreans, one serious food couple and their two adult sons. One of the sons had been four times in the last few months and served as a bit of an enthusiastic guide. My +1 and I were the only first timers. I know, big gap given how long WK has been open. We'd booked a month or more ago and were really looking forward to it. WK has a reputation I now know is deserved that goes beyond the very serious farm-to-table efforts they make (i.e., ramps and asparagus were all over the menu; 9 varieties of all-Chesapeake raw oysters were sorted according to salinity). I'm not sure I know any other restaurants in our area that break down whole animals of all types regularly. The "tavern steak" on their menu is so named because it's always different cuts depending on what they have. In this way, they can keep food costs down while still putting out great quality food and treating their staff particularly well. Judging by our experience, that strategy is working in the biggest of ways.

VENUE

Much has already been written so I'll just make three observations here that may be newer/different:

1. As others have said, the space is gorgeous with all the restoration, reclaimed woods, the use of high shelving (to display preserved foods) and vertical space (catwalk seating). It reminds me of a sort of mix of a sophisticated gastro/brew pub (a la birch & barley) and a mountain town venue as one might find atop a peak at Telluride or Vail. Pretty cool.

2. As much as I can tell from all the posts above, most of the venue comments were about the big room with the open kitchen, bar and two levels for seating with upper level overlooking the main floor. Maybe due to the size of our group, we were seated in a different room that most pass on the way in. Also large with shelves and just a wait station, we had a great time at a large corner table they'd set for us. Fun but easy to talk. Some of the repeat visitors thought it quieter than the main room FWIW so maybe something others could request if that's important to you.

3. Something about the charcuterie/whole animal processing focus along with the venue's architectural characteristics also reminded me of a place in Atlanta I recently tried and enjoyed (thanks to BettyJoan and about which I also still need to post!) called Holeman & Finch.

SERVICE

Really outstanding from both efficiency and effectiveness perspectives. It's awful I can't remember our server's name but he was great. All the normal explanations would apply supporting a great service assertion: attentive/not intrusive, we never wanted for anything, waters refilled (both still and sparkling with separate pitchers) regularly, etc, etc. But it really went way beyond that.

Given the nature of our group, our server fielded many questions about the food, provenance, technique, the building, history, wines, the staff, you name it. He knew everything. He answered everything asked with authority, substance and not a speck of arrogance. We all learned a lot and this really enhanced the experience. But it goes even further. Yes, this was a uniquely great service experience even relative to the finest fine dining spots.

I mentioned to our server that I was interested to know what coffee they serve. He answered it was Counter Culture and then asked if I'd be interested to meet the person who "heads the coffee program." Suffice to say, that really piqued my interest. A restaurant with a "coffee program?"

Sure enough, over came Allie, who leads a team of baristas who make all the coffee drinks separate from the regular table service staff. I chatted with her for maybe 15 minutes and she was pretty fab in all respects. Allie really knows coffee, knew all the good spots in DC, the roasters, even from around the country (it's a closeknit community). Though we'd already ordered a large french press of whatever the CC columbian was that they had, I also asked Allie for a cappuccino since I had to put the baristas to the test. Sure enough, it was a technically excellent and delicious cap.

Final note on service. I'm not sure if this is typical at WK and, to the best of my knowledge, none of us were known to the staff as anything other than regular joes and janes. One among us was a media person so possible they knew that but no sign of it. At two points in the meal, they brought out things for us to try without charge. This was always explained practically rather than altruistically. Two orders of deviled eggs after drinks were brought to our table to "tide us over" until the apps came out. At the end of the meal, 2 or 3 unfamiliar desserts appeared because we only ordered two at the table and the waiter (staff? restaurant?) really wanted us to better appreciate the work of their pastry chef. .

All in, the staff made this seem more like dining at someone's (palatial) home than at a restaurant. Great fun and a very rich experience.

DRINKS

First, cocktails. Several people ordered them and loved them. It's a crime I can't tell you what they were except for one with vodka served in a copper handled cup which is one of their best known. The friend next to me ordered a "lemonade" (not on the menu) and was instead served what they call an "Apricade." It had sweetness, just a touch of tartness and bits of apricot in the drink. Non-alcoholic, I loved this and had two. Redefined refreshing for me. I'd kll to have access to this on any beach vacation.

I don't think anyone had beer but we went through either two or three bottles of a very nice red from Maryland. I'll be honest here, out myself and say I was relatively clueless about the existence of a wine industry in Maryland let alone any specifics about vineyards or varietals being produced. I'd noticed ChoirGirl's "part time pourer" signature here on dr.com but had never looked up "Black Ankle Vineyards" before. The red we all very much enjoyed was from there. The label didn't make clear what type of grape it was and, with all our other questions and conversation with the staff, we didn't ask. It was a bigger red, 2009 vintage, cab/bordeaux style I'd guess. Very good. I was impressed enough to look up the vineyard when I got home and, beyond that, sure enough, there are dozens of vineyards in Maryland (he learned sheepishly). in fact, more than 50 are listed right here.

FOOD

Again, this is all from memory and we ordered a large number of things so this is just a sampling mixing starters and mains:

- Boneless ribeye--our friend who ordered this raved about it and it looked mouth watering. Very reminiscent of the delicious roseda ribeye we enjoyed at Society Fair the week before. Wish I knew more about this dish but, alas...

- Deviled eggs--one of the better versions I've had in awhile. Smooth texture but with excellent flavor enhanced way beyond just yolk and mayonnaise.

- Stuffed ham with ramps and asparagus. Two of us ordered this as it was one of the more unusual things on the menu and really featured the house curing and spring vegetables. It was great. Loved the ham. Perfectly cured with just enough but not too much salt. It was served atop an oyster stuffing; also excellent.

- Baked oyster starter. I had one, thought it pretty excellent and can't even do it justice to describe it. Maybe called Mason or something like that? Asian flavors? Yuzu? Mirin? Not sure but good. Very good.

- Whole roasted black bass. This was really the only miss of the night. It was dry and overcooked. No doubt they'd have redone it had we asked but we didn't give them that chance. It looked impressive when served.

- Chicken liver pate: Wow! We had some at the table not so enamored with pates but everyone LOVED this. So smooth, flavorful and nuanced. Served in a jar. Really memorable.

- Charcuterie board. This came with a salami, bresaola, corned tongue (mmm) and a prosciutto-like ham that wasn't prosciutto

- Beef and noodles. That may be the exact name of this main dish that two among us ordered and which I tried. As with most everything else, the ingredients really shone through on an otherwise simple but absolutely delicious dish.

- Flatbreads. There's a separate section of these on the menu and maybe three were ordered. They were finished and I can't really comment more other than to make the connection to the bread service. Mayby 3 or 4 different kinds of bread incling a wheat, french country style, all really well done.

There were 4 or 5 desserts at our table between two that had been ordered and 2 or 3 more that we were given. One, a pudding served in a wide-mouthed jar, was just okay. Another with loads of fresh blueberries was wonderful. Can't recall the others as I didn't try most of the desserts and was more focused on the coffees.

VALUE

Surprisingly good. Eight people. Plenty of starters and desserts. 2 bottles of wine. A few cocktails with and without alcohol. Coffees. All the mains. More than I've posted above. Total for us pre tax and tip was less than $700.

BOTTOM LINE

Woodberry Kitchen is a truly special and unique place with seriously dedicated and talented professionals resident in the kitchen and front of the house in all areas. Crazy I hadn't been here before but now that I've been, we'll be back for sure.

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Darkstar, thanks for the nod to Black Ankle. If the wine you had was an '09, then I suspect you had our Rolling Hills. You're correct that it's a bordeaux varietal although slightly more predominantly merlot (44% I think) than cab sauv.

Also, for anyone as enthusiastic as you about coffee who is in the area on Fridays, they have their coffee cuppings event at 10 am Friday morning. The event is free. Sadly I work nowhere near there so I have not been able to participate.

Glad you had as wonderful an experience as I have had. Your review makes me want to get back, and soon!

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I don't know where to start so I'm just gonna type.

Went there last night and started out with their version of a Manhattan called a Manhampden (Maryland-style rye, California sweet vermouth, new fashioned bitters, Peychaud's, orange twist)...my Manhattan experience is pretty limited but this was extremely delicious, not too much bite and the first sip had a variety of flavor between the bitterness and sweetness. Another diner got a blackberry fizz (Blackberry vodka, Organic Snap, hard apple cider, lemon, Roggenbier) and while fizzes aren't my cup of tee, I didn't find it unappealing.

I started off with an Asparagus Salad (Charred ramps, pecans, pea shoots,'stony man')...not the most adventerous thing to start off with but it really appealed to me and it hit the spot. You could really taste how fresh the greens were and as someone who was raised on not-so-fresh vegetables I could really appreciate it. Other small plates that we started off with was a veal tartare served with chips which had a lot of flavor and She Crab Soup. Our waiter actually said before that he always recommends the clam soup instead but when the mind gets stuck on something, you have to get it. It was still good but it did make me wonder just how good that clam soup is.

I got the Mangalitsa Pork Chop served over McCarthy Farm black-eyed peas, ham hock, chard, asparagus and it was delicious. There was a thin layer of fat around the edges that provided a good flavor and while I don't order pork chops often, it was by far the best pork chop I've had. I may have liked the rest of the dish better, the flavors matched each other extremely well.

The two other entrees ordered was a mutton dish that doesn't seem to be on the website (I don't believe its the one currently up there) and the tavern steak over potatoes, wilted romaine, turnips, nettle cream, green garlic relish. Both were very good and full of flavor, but I must admit I enjoyed mine more than the others.

I also ordered a glass of the 2009 Black Ankle Rolling Hills, which was by far the best Maryland wine I've had. It was my first Black Ankle experience, but it definitely didn't taste like something you'd find from Maryland. I've wanted to try some Black Ankle wines for a while, now I'm going to be much more aware of their wines.

After dinner we did have a French Press (I think this one was from Peru) which was some of the best coffee I've ever had in a restaurant, seems like my feelings have been felt by others in this thread. Lots of flavor.

The decor was amazing, the server was a bit overeager if anything but very helpful, nothing really else to add to any of the prior experiences posted. As far as the value, we played guess the bill and I was about 20% too high. Our experience last night was great and it will be repeated in the future barring any unforeseen circumstances (please don't randomly close!).

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I just posted a review of Woodberry Kitchen on my blog last night. Here's an excerpt. Suffice it to say that I am a big fan of the place, having now dined here twice.

Many restaurants boast a farm to table concept. You know it’s taken seriously at Woodberry Kitchen when you peruse the menu. Ramps and asparagus are incorporated into nearly every dish, reflecting what’s truly in season at the moment. It takes about five seconds for for me – I mean us- to decide on a starter to share. I remind myself that it’s my husband’s birthday and this should be his choice. I’m hoping he’ll agree to the asparagus flatbread with green tomato relish, ricotta, and cilantro. I have to give him time to consider other options, so I hold my breath and wait. Fortunately, he’s in agreement.

My first bite makes me gasp in astonishment. While I’ve ordered a flatbread with ingredients which I obviously find appealing, I am not quite prepared for flatbread perfection. The thin and crispy crust is what I always hope for and rarely receive. The combination of ricotta and cilantro surpasses my expectations. What gives the dish added depth is a delicate touch of sweetness created from homemade harvest chutney made from eggplant, tomato, and a selection of winter vegetables.

Full post is at http://beenthereeatenthat.net/2012/04/woodberry-kitchen/

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OMG, the roasted ramps!!!!! The stalk is crispy and the bulb is cooked soft and the whole thing is a flavor/texture bomb. The rockfish collar appetizer, dressed with ramps, asparagus, and peanut romesco, is one of the best things I've eaten in ages and is almost entree-sized. The portions here are quite generous. We had a couple of nice cocktails - the rum shandy is perfect for a person who likes balanced, fruity concoctions with a little beer fizz. We had excellent service and a simply wonderful night. There are three two-tops (hightops) in the bar area. When we got there at about 5:20 PM (Sat.) all three were available, though the other two were taken within the next 15 minutes. When we left, there was a scramble for our table, and several couples were politely duking it out for first claim.

We also had the extremely rich she-crab soup, the popcorn, the cornbread, and the slow-roasted pork entree. The chocolate pudding pie is small but very dense, but the CMP (a last-minute impulse add-on after we saw it on other tables) is a completely over-the-top malted ice cream sundae with a bruleed marshmallow creme top. I loved the whole cozy, friendly, delicious experience. It called to mind the atmosphere of the Zuni Cafe. I don't think we have anything quite like it here in DC.

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I do not want to start my posts here negatively.However,while Baltimore needs some venues to become its institutions (in regard to restos of course) mediocer overpriced food shouldn't pass for such .

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goodeats   

I do not want to start my posts here negatively.However,while Baltimore needs some venues to become its institutions (in regard to restos of course) mediocer overpriced food shouldn't pass for such .

I have not been here, but isn't this a bit harsh without some sort of explanation for your second post ever? You're dangling a carrot! Usually, we ask our new members to write a little more than Yelp typically requires...

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Thanks goodeats. I would agree.

borderdog, you really should expand on your critique of Woodberry. I think it has been around long enough that it is a Baltimore institution, and while I would agree the food is a bit pricey, I had one of the most inexpensive over the top meals here last fall. For a hundred bucks, I shared a whole pig's head with a have dozen sides of vegetables with 10 people. It was great and a surprising bargain for Woodberry.

In regards to Baltimore's lack of "institutions", I'm not sure how long you've been in Baltimore, but there are quite a few of them: the Charleston group, Chameleon, all the casual places in Canton/Fells (Peter's Inn, Jack's Bistro, Salt), and a whole lot of up and comers (Waterfront, Wit & Wisdom, B&O).

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I didnt say Baltimore has no good restaurants , i said it needs what it has and more. True i have only lived here for few years . I have been to Woodberry several times . I might have sound a bit harsh but anytime I bring criticism of it on a conversation with friends it's like crossing a taboo.

In my experience what they offer is overpriced . Meaning it is not as good as what they charge you for it. Please dont take this personally It is just an opinion.

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I don't think I'm making this a personal issue. You just want to be more constructive if you're going to lay down a line a like "mediocer(sic) overpriced food". It's like writing a review for a movie and saying "it sucks". We at this board want to hear about good and bad experiences but you have to back it up with some detail and constructive criticism.

Why do you feel the food is overpriced? Why do you feel the quality is mediocre?

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I didnt say Baltimore has no good restaurants , i said it needs what it has and more. True i have only lived here for few years . I have been to Woodberry several times . I might have sound a bit harsh but anytime I bring criticism of it on a conversation with friends it's like crossing a taboo.

In my experience what they offer is overpriced . Meaning it is not as good as what they charge you for it. Please dont take this personally It is just an opinion.

I don't think anyone is saying you're not entitled to your opinion. Nor is anyone jumping on you for it. I'm going to venture to say, the Woodberry Kitchen thread may not be the best place to voice a very broad opinion about Baltimore restaurants. It would be more of a place to level a criticism specific to Woodberry Kitchen.

Just to add on to 1000yregg, I think we are asking for specific things like. I did not think ___ was as fresh as it should be/seasoned properly/cooked to the right degree/a good flavor combination, etc.

The rationale for asking for such specific details is that it adds some substance to the conversation rather than just a thumbs up or thumbs down, since taste is a very relative thing. Everyone has folks on this board they agree or disagree with, but there needs to be some background to make that decision. Also since it sounds like the experiences have been over time, it's important to give some vague hint of those times, as the quality of restaurants can ebb and flow.

I'll say I've had both positive and negative experiences at Woodberry, ranging from rather bland, overfluffy flatbreads at lunch to some spectacular raw bar items and a surprisingly meaty-tasting vegan bean dish.

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I wanted to give Borderdog some time to elaborate, but I'll just chime in with some thoughts on the value of our recent meal at Woodberry. While there, one of the things I noticed was that you could have a fairly inexpensive meal. The burger and flatbreads (which looked great, and plenty of folks got them) are priced at $16 or less for a good-sized (and great-looking) portion of food. If you stick to that and say, a small bite per person (the snacks are $5 or less), you can have a lovely meal in a cozy setting with wonderful service for ~$20 before tax and tip. Not cheap eats, but not terribly expensive for the experience, especially considering the care and sourcing of the ingredients. It is more expensive than cheap eats, of course, but that's not why the legions are massing at WK. I did notice that there is a big difference between the size of the some similarly priced menu items. For example, some of the desserts are very small (chocolate pudding pie for $8), while the volume of food delivered for a different dessert is much larger (e.g., CMP, though that is priced at $11, and the funnel cake was huge, though I don't know how much that cost, as it was a special that day). While I liked our desserts there, I would say they don't represent the best value on the menu.

We got a couple of the snacks - the cornbread and the popcorn, and they were nice. They seemed fairly priced ($5 and $1) for the setting, though, in absolute terms, yes, they were definitely expensive. Where we felt we did the best, value-wise, were our larger plates. The soup and rockfish collar were wonderful dishes, excellently executed with top-notch ingredients. Our pork entree was very good, and the portion was generous enough to satisfy us both. The price per execution of these plates all seemed comparable, and even at a slightly lower price point, than fine dining meals we've had in the past. Perhaps, because we don't eat in Baltimore, the prices might seem high locally, while appearing fair to us? I do most of my fine dining in DC and San Francisco, so that might make a difference. For us, the food, in that setting (great atmosphere and terrific service cost $$ as well!!), was definitely as good, or better than what they charged for it. YMMV, of course, but the place was PACKED to the gills when we left, so apparently there is a viable market for their product. It's not exactly in the middle of things, so people are obviously going out of their way to visit.

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I haven't been at WK in a few months .I guess I will have to give it another try. I am not going to say anything about the 16$ flat bread aka mini pizza.

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It's a pity DC never had any sort of manufacturing industry, 'cause if it did, the city would have nifty old brick plants that could be renovated into charming spaces like Woodberry Kitchen. Character like that can't be built new. We had a great brunch there. I've never liked crab dip, but the Tilghman Island Crab Pot is awesome. Maybe it shouldn't be called crab dip, but it was served with crackers and pieces of toast. Sure was yummy. Also, buttermilk black raspberry ice cream. Great place. Really glad I don't live anywhere near it; I'd be fat and bankrupt in no time if I did.

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It's a pity DC never had any sort of manufacturing industry, 'cause if it did, the city would have nifty old brick plants that could be renovating into charming spaces like Woodberry Kitchen.

Digressing for a moment, we sort of did once, but little of it survived urban renewal. For instance, the Heurich brewery was leveled in the 1960s to make room for the Kennedy Center, and the Papermill kept little but the smokestack in its 1980s transformation into condos.

One exception that leaps to mind is the original Hollerith tabulator factory (ca 1896) in Georgetown, one of the four birthplaces of IBM. Its downstairs is now the Sea Catch restaurant.

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