Frederick is much more of a foodie town than I ever realized before my visit last month. After an excellent dinner at The Wine Kitchen, I was eager to get another taste of what the city had to offer. Luckily, Frederick-resident Tara from Lace and Grace blog knew exactly where we should go next. The Tasting Room, located in the heart of Frederick’s adorable and surprisingly bustling downtown, serves regional cuisine with a European influence. We loved the bright, airy space, which could easily be transplanted into the heart of DC without seeming a bit out of place.
We perused the menu while digging into the bread basket, opting to share a bunch of starters for the table. Along with Tara, we dined with our new friend Phoebe from Take Me With You. After ordering flights of wine, we all quickly agreed on several dishes that sounded delicious, starting with the artisan cheese board.
I loved the addition of fresh strawberries, cornichons, pickled veggies and apple butter – something for everyone. We also enjoyed a beautiful tuna tartar with cucumber kimchi, granny smith apple, jicama and ponzu, served with sesame lavosh.
The Asian influences really made this dish sing, while the kimchi, apple and jicama created a textural party in each bite.
Speaking of texture, crispy panko gulf shrimp were up next, served with a rice wine dipping sauce.
I think my aversion to shrimp is officially a thing of the past, especially when they taste this sweet and fresh. The acidity of the dipping sauce was a nice touch as well.
The dish I was most surprised by was the roasted pork belly with chinese five spice, braised cabbage, charred miso, spicy mustard and pickled carrot.
I’ve all but written off pork belly these days. Most versions are overpriced and almost always a disappointment, but this was neither of those things. It was tender, slightly crispy with only enough fat to impart flavor without turning to mush when biting into it. The charred miso and braised cabbage added a wonderful umami flavor. Overall, this was outstanding.
It quickly became clear that The Tasting Room excels at attention to detail and precision in technique. Beef carpaccio is another dish I sometimes avoid ordering, because when done wrong it can be a truly horrifying experience. Think lukewarm, gray beef and heavy mayo-based sauces.
My worries were unfounded though, as this dish was perfectly executed – cold, paper-thin, super fresh. Truffle vinaigrette, capers and lemon zest lended lovely earthy and tangy flavors, arugula provided a hint of spice and nutty Parmesan brought everything together. Hands down one of the best beef carpaccios I’ve ever eaten.
Since we were in Maryland, we couldn’t not order the crab dip, a classic take with jumbo lump crab, aged cheddar and old bay, served with crostini.
Indulgent and comforting, this was another success. I personally preferred the lighter offerings of the tuna and carpaccio but you really can’t go wrong with crab dip.
By this point we were all completely satisfied, which is pretty impressive for six appetizers spread among four people. Also surprising was how much we loved every single dish. There honestly wasn’t a bad bite of food in the entire meal. If you think you can’t get gourmet food outside of the city, think again. I can’t wait to go back and explore more of the menu.
We were graciously hosted by The Tasting Room, but this rave review is 100% honest and highly warranted.