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cjsadler

The Wine Market, Wine Bar and Tasting Room on Fort Ave near Locust Point - Closed

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I like the combination wine shop and tasting room/restaurant concept. However, the expectation at a place like this is that they'll have some interesting wine selections that you might not find everywhere else. Unfortunately the shop bottles and the tasting list here (3oz, 6oz) tend toward fairly common wines, such as E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone (a wine that I like, but...).

The kitchen was at one time overseen by Jeff Heineman from Grapeseed, but I'm not sure if that's the case anymore. The food was pretty disappointing, though. The entrees we had were bland: monkfish with a wine-tomato sauce and vegetables and a lamb ragu over corkscrew pasta.

The bartender at the Idle Hour, where we stopped afterwards, raved about the place and told us we needed to try it again. To me it was a collection of trendy ideas (small pours, industrial interior, truffle oiled this and that, etc) done poorly. Anyone else been?

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I've only been to the Wine Market once, many moons ago, not long after they opened. And, I have to pretty much agree with your assessment of the food - we weren't impressed. We were thinking of going back and giving it another try sometime soon but who knows. Everytime I go that far south on Fort Avenue I just find myself cursing the hideous truth that Soigne is no more. But, if I'm in the area during the day, I can be consoled with a treat from the Baltimore Cupcake Company. And, I just have to add that I think that Idle Hour is such a perfect name for a bar (and it's fun to say--especially with a Baltimore accent).

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cjsadler said:
To me it was a collection of trendy ideas (small pours, industrial interior, truffle oiled this and that, etc) done poorly.  Anyone else been?

I like the "concept"; I like the location. I even like the minimalist decor. I've been several times for corporate events where they have passed finger food and set out large party trays, and I thought those were quite good for what they were. But I wasn't inspired enough to go back to try it for an actual meal.

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Slowly working my way up to a full meal here. This time it was happy hour at the bar. The affable bartender immediately handed me the bar menu and set down a display of six happy hour wines for the evening. Each was $3 a pour. Not recognizing any of them (which means nothing) I chose two Spanish reds and at $3 for very generous pours, I have no complaints. The bar menu items were also only $3. Things like marinated olives and potatoes, trio of bruschetta, beef and mushroom skewers, shrimp dumplings, mac and cheese, and the one I ordered: cornmeal crusted oysters with a bacon beurre blanc. All over the trendoid map. But, where else in Baltimore can you get three large, fresh Canadian oysters, well fried (still juicy) and set out decoratively with a small frisee salad, with a sauce with a real bacon kick, like that? For $3? Charleston's oysters are still the best I've had in Baltimore, but these were damn good. Also sampled the beef and mushroom sirloin skewers - which were very tasty. By the time we strolled out the place was completely full of dinner patrons, so it is certainly no secret. Big plus: very easy access to the I-95 on/off-ramps. Maybe lunch or dinner next time - there are braised short ribs and lamb shank on the menu.

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I went once and was sadly dissapointed by the pedestrian wine selection. A good idea wasted by commercial crap by the glass. In the wine world of today, commercial crap (ie Guigal) can be palatable, but what's the point? If I want to support coporate wine making I can go to Flemmings or costco and the rest. For a small and quirly restaurant, they certainly have taken the sad but easy road of big name wine. I won't be back, not because the food wasn't good (it was pretty tasty but at non happy hour prices a little expensive) but because the wine program represents all I ahte about the wine workld of today.

Anyways, I'd rather head up the street to LP Steamer's and down a dozen crabs with a plastic pitcher of beer!

edited to be even more catty re pedestrian wine selections!

Edited by deangold

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deangold said:
I won't be back, not because the food wasn't good (it was pretty tasty but at non happy hour prices a little expensive)

Not to be too defensive about a place at which I've never had a full meal, but I think the food prices seemed very fair - maybe even in the same range as Dino's? Dinner entree prices range from $14 to $22. (There is one $25 item - a bacon wrapped filet mignon over potato gnocchi.) Here is the menu from the website. Others will have to weigh in about the wine selections. The six wines I was offered for happy hour I did not recognize. The Spanish cab/tempranillo I enjoyed a lot and the garnacha was servicable.

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I was invited to the Wine Market last night for a meeting and I had a decent meal. It was walking distance from my place in Federal Hill. From what I hear, they just started with a new chef in the last few months.

Don't recall the wine- a mostly harmless merlot.

For dinner, had the bison short ribs with pumpkin grits- very nice- slightly over cooked meat. One of the other appetizers, the octupus was arranged on the plate much like Hung's Top Chef grocery aisle challenge- kind of a mess.

The entree was the barramundi with shredded asian pear, a himalayan red rice side which was basically brown rice. I liked the flavor of the fish. I tried their monkfish which was also prepared well.

For dessert- I had the poached pear on a white chocolate tart- This was pretty yummy.

While I wouldn't go crazy for this place- it wasn't an unpleasant experience. I would say if it were a little less pricey- not a bad neighborhood restaurant- a little more adventurous on the menu which I like, but not quite up to amazing in quality. I still prefer Sobo Cafe near the Cross st market.

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I wanted to reintroduce myself to everyone here at Don Rockwell. Formerly the bar manager at Tallula and EatBar and most recently working downtown at Proof, I recently moved to Baltimore and took over as the general manager of The Wine Market. While not everyone gets up to Baltimore on a regular basis, I encourage all of you to give us a visit next time you are around and please introduce yourself if I don't already know you.

There have been many changes at The Wine Market in the past few months. There was my addition to the team, but we also have a new wine director in Lucien Walsh and a new executive chef in Chris Becker. Lucien is an exciting guy to listen talk about wine and he is constantly hard at work to improve our selection. Yes, there are still a few E. Guigals floating on our shelves, but he is constantly looking to replace our old inventory with new and more interesting labels. As for the chef, he was our executive sous for several years and recently was promoted. He is young, energetic, and passionate about food. They make my job easy here, so I highly encourage you swing by. And I would always love to hear any feedback the DR community might have for us.

Cheers!

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Anybody been recently and able to report back? More specifically about the shop as most of the area liqour stores don't carry the greatest selection.

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Anybody been recently and able to report back? More specifically about the shop as most of the area liqour stores don't carry the greatest selection.

I haven't been, but I have faith in Matt Wright. Yes, he's young and looks just like John Elway :), but he was precocious when he was here in DC and had talent. I pinged him to alert him to your question.

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Anybody been recently and able to report back? More specifically about the shop as most of the area liqour stores don't carry the greatest selection.

I wish I could provide a more current update, but I left my position at the Wine Market in late 2011.

What I can say about the restaurant is that shortly after my departure the Wine Market lost a very young and talented chef, Chris Becker. I know the kitchen has gone through a few chefs since, but I doubt they have been able to replace the talent and creativity lost when Chef Becker departed. Chef Becker can still be found in Baltimore, now at Fleet Street Kitchen. I haven't had an opportunity to visit him there, but I am confident he is putting out some great food and am comfortable recommending it without first-hand experience.

As for the shop, the selection was okay while I was there. The liquor and beer selection was a bit limited, but with variety. Wine selections leaned towards American Pinots/Cabs/Chards (probably a third of the inventory), with lots of mass produce, easily recognizable labels. Old world and more esoteric wines being a bit more limited. They also give up some shelf space for garbage (1.5L of Yellow Tail, Bud Light Lime, etc.) to pander to the boating crowd that loads up there before heading to the marina down the street. Lucien Walsh runs the wine shop, he is knowledgeable and a great guy. He splits his time between the Wine Market shop and their sister shop Wine Works in Mt. Washington. Find out what days he is there, and stop by then. He was always happy to do special orders for guests.

Hope that helps a bit.

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Thanks, sounds like it'll serve my purposes fine. I don't mind limited with beer/liqour if there's some variety (if I'm interpreting your intentions correctly) and I'll have to keep Lucien Walsh in mind if/when I make it there for wine.

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