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DonRocks

The Rye Street Tavern - A Beautiful Location for American Cuisine in Port Covington - Run by NoHo Hospitality Group

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Last week, I went to the Rye Street Tavern, NoHo Hospitality Group's latest foray into Baltimore. It was on a Sunday evening, so we naturally gravitated towards their "Southern Fried Sundays" - a fried chicken dinner, served family style. Keep reading, because I'm going to tell you a little secret about ordering this meal that wouldn't be at all obvious to a first-time diner. and it will make the difference between you "liking it," and "loving it."

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The cocktails were somewhat expensive, but were well-made and delicious:

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And a little loaf of cornbread comes out just before everything else arrives:

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Then, the family-style dinner:

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Everything about this meal screamed "Repeat!" - everything, that is, except the price: We paid $70 for those two little assemblages of food that you see just above (plus the cornbread). 

"Geez," I said, "$70, and we got *four* pieces of chicken!" I mean, it was great and everything, but as you can see, there are three starch-heavy items: the cornbread, the biscuits, and the potatoes, and we both paced our dinners so that we finished everything at the same time. We were mildly full, and yes, the richness of the cooking made everything satisfying, but come on! I wanted more chicken, darn it!

So, just as we were winding down, our server came up to us, and said, "Would you all care for some more chicken, or side dishes?"

"Wat?"

Okay, so ... spending my money so you don't have to ... we asked for some more chicken, potatoes, and collards (made with delicious bacon, btw), and got a healthy second portion; the rub is that we had *no idea* it was coming, so we filled up on starch, when we would have really preferred a better balance with another piece of chicken.

Remember: Those second portions are coming your way, but not a word was said about them until we had almost finished the meal - if you take *that* into consideration, and use it to your advantage, then $35 is a very fair price for this meal. 

Also, the restaurant gave us two spice muffins "to have with breakfast the next morning," which is always a nice touch. To Rye Street's full credit, they offered to box up the second helping which we couldn't finish - we felt sheepish about this, since boxing up all-you-can-eat meals is something of a shady practice, but they would hear nothing of it. Keep in mind: I don't know if this is all-you-can-eat; I suspect you get two helpings, and *maybe* a third helping if you really do a number on everything, but I wouldn't count on that. Still, in no way did they seem like they were trying to skimp on things, so this was merely a lack of knowledge on our part - learn from our mistake!

Go here on a Sunday night, get this exact same thing, and *remember* that it's essentially all-you-can-eat - I can't guarantee we'd have gotten a third helping, but who knows? There's no need to stuff yourself with carbs, merely so you don't leave hungry.

Furthermore, the restaurant, and the grounds it's on (it shares acreage with a distillery) is beautiful - there's even a battleship in the background!

And that is damned good fried chicken!

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Has anyone else here been to Rye Street Tavern? After my most recent dinner at Woodberry Kitchen, I'm prepared to call Rye Street Tavern "the best restaurant I know of in Baltimore" (which, of course, isn't the same as saying "the best restaurant in Baltimore").

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8 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Has anyone else here been to Rye Street Tavern? After my most recent dinner at Woodberry Kitchen, I'm prepared to call Rye Street Tavern "the best restaurant I know of in Baltimore" (which, of course, isn't the same as saying "the best restaurant in Baltimore").

We had brunch there on November 25, 2018, after dropping someone to BWI.  I recall saying I would drive back here just to eat.  We liked the hand carved country ham, gumbo, and fried green tomato BLT.  It was an early morning flight so we killed some time at Fort McHenry, which was more interesting than we anticipated.  I expect that we will be back.  It is definitely the best restaurant I have been to in Baltimore, although my sample size is not large.  It is a NYC restaurant group, so not exactly local, but still worth visiting.

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On 12/3/2018 at 9:19 PM, dcs said:

We had brunch there on November 25, 2018, after dropping someone to BWI.  I recall saying I would drive back here just to eat.  We liked the hand carved country ham, gumbo, and fried green tomato BLT.  It was an early morning flight so we killed some time at Fort McHenry, which was more interesting than we anticipated.  I expect that we will be back.  It is definitely the best restaurant I have been to in Baltimore, although my sample size is not large.  It is a NYC restaurant group, so not exactly local, but still worth visiting.

We had dinner here last night. The menu:

dinner.pdf

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We started off with a Dockside Royale ($14, on the drinks.pdf menu), Baltimore Spirits Co. Pink Peppercorn, Peychaud's Aperitivo, Lemon, North Fork Blanc de Blancs. Served in a champagne flute, this was refreshing, like a much more complex Kir Royale - the drinks list here is *extremely* heavy on Ryes and Whiskeys, so take note if these are (or aren't) to your liking. The wine list is 100% American, and is extremely expensive - my knowledge of American wines is very limited, and I'm not an expert by any means, but when I see a $14 Sauvignon Blanc by Matanzas Creek (formerly makers of good quality, but extremely buttery, Chardonnay; now a high-volume winery whose wines you can find most anywhere), I get a little antsy - you can purchase this screw-cap wine by the bottle at Safeway for around $16. With my meal, I went with a beer: an Ommegang 'Rare Vos' Amber Ale ($7) on draft - if you're not comfortable navigating American wine lists, ask for help from the staff (or look online before you go).

The first thing to arrive was a mini-loaf of warm Cornbread served with well-seasoned, creamy butter - it's tough not to finish this before the food arrives, but since there are plenty of carbs with the meal, there was no reason not to. This was a good cornbread, pulled recently from the oven and made with care.

Appetizers were Artichoke Tahini ($13, on the website menu as "Artichoke Dip"), basically an "artichoke hummus" topped with crispy sunchokes, fascinating chewy sunchokes marinated in brown butter (which neither of us could identify - I thought they were some sort of fig-olive hybrid), and fresh, hot naan for dipping. This was a good dish that had a couple too many ingredients for my taste - it could have done without the hazelnuts that were thrown in for texture, for example. Still, there were no clashing flavors, and I would recommend this to people to share as a starter.

Tuesday's "Crab of the Day" was Crab-Stuffed Deviled Eggs ($15), pleasant, but not as intriguing as they sound, and served a few degrees too cold. This appetizer consisted of only three halves, which makes it almost outrageously priced. I can't recommend that people order this - the crab seemed almost incidental, and for this price, that doesn't work.

For mains, Wood-Grilled Maryland Rockfish ($32) came sitting atop a hefty portion of shrimp and grits, and smoked tomato. This was a good, even very good, dish that fell short of being exciting - what you think it might be, is exactly what it is, although it was served warm, not hot. This is presented in a way that invites putting everything together in each bite, and is better-off for doing so, as all the flavors here complement each other. This paired well with a "correct and harmless" glass of 2016 Brandborg Pinot Gris ($13) from Umpqua Valley, OR.

I couldn't help myself. AC's Famous Fried Chicken (Classic Southern Style, $22) was so good when I had it last time that I had to get it again, and it was every bit as wonderful this time around. This is excellent fried chicken - four hefty pieces, served with two flaky biscuits and a couple of whiskey pickles (you won't mind the whiskey at all). Thinking (mistakenly) I might need a starch, I added a side of Mashed Potatoes ($7) which arrived piping hot in a little ramekin - this went overkill on the carbs, but it was of my own doing.

Everything during this meal was good (the Rockfish was even better two-hours later at home, lukewarm), but the Fried Chicken carried the day, and was the one thing that I would call "great." Up above, I said that this may be elevated above Woodberry Kitchen; now, I'm not so sure (and it doesn't really matter, as Rye Street Tavern is straight-on American Southern; Woodberry Kitchen flies higher and has further to fall), but I'm quite confident that you will really enjoy this fried chicken (they also serve a Jerked version, which I haven't tried before - I would encourage everyone to get the Classic Southern version). In terms of atmosphere, both of these restaurants are wondrous to the point of being fun.

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On 1/31/2019 at 7:20 PM, curiouskitkatt said:

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Interestingly, Rye Street Tavern was closed on Sunday, Feb 3, for a private party.

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Yoyogrrrl and I are going here for dinner tonight before the Jonathan Van Ness show at the Hippodrome.  Really looking forward to the fried chicken!  And we'll probably hit Woodberry Kitchen for brunch tomorrow.

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2 hours ago, captcourt said:

Yoyogrrrl and I are going here for dinner tonight before the Jonathan Van Ness show at the Hippodrome.  Really looking forward to the fried chicken!  And we'll probably hit Woodberry Kitchen for brunch tomorrow.

I got it a third time - I began to notice that the crust was fairly thick, and could be easily peeled off the chicken (this is neither good nor bad, but I thought I remembered it being slightly better integrated in the past).

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Excellent dinner here last night.  We had an early reservation (5:15) before the show, and made remarkable time getting there from DC, so we walked in the door at 5, they seated us shortly after that in the beautiful bar with a fire going in the fireplace.  We had views of the Sagamore distillery on one side, and the harbor on another.  Our server was an old-school sort of guy, started out a little formal and gruff, and by midway he was smiling at us and our enjoyment of the food.  Cocktails were a Penicillin for me (Sagamore Spirit Rye, ginger, lemon, honey, jasmine, McCarthy’s Single Malt, and a garnish of candied ginger, yum) and a Winter Crush for Yoyogrrrl (Sagamore Spirit Rye, passion fruit, orange, lemon, club soda), which she liked but switched to get the Penicillin for a second drink).   Starters were the wood-grilled choptank oysters (the topping was a bit granita-like and the Hatch chilies were not discernible in taste), with a small squeeze of lime over them, and tuna poke with macadamia nuts and nori, which doesn't seem to be on their online menu.  We loved both of these, and the portions were just enough to make us want more of each.  The poke benefited from the nori, surprisingly, as nori usually seems like just a textural add in non-sushi dishes. 

The fried chicken and rockfish have already been written up, so I'll keep it short.  The crust was pretty thick for our chicken, too (maybe for people who like to eat some skin, but not all of it?) but my goodness, that chicken was well-cooked.  Super moist inside.  The rockfish was also beautiful.  The grits were creamy, the smoked cherry (?) tomatoes had a satisfying pop, and I ate nearly all of it, figuring we could - and did - take the chicken with us.

We didn't have time for dessert before the show, so no report on that.  It took forever to get out of the garage attached to the Hippodrome so we called it a night after the show, rather than returning for dessert.

I'll post our Woodberry brunch writeup in that thread, and we do still give WK the edge, but I don't think anyone could go wildly wrong with either restaurant right now.       

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