When one gets an invite to sample Wit & Wisdom’s Executive Chef Zach Mills’ and Lead Bartender Rob Garrison’s new fall menu items and cocktails, the response was an immediate yes. This Michael Mina tavern is the anchor restaurant for Baltimore’s Harbor East Four Seasons Hotel where each seat, whether at the bar or the dining room has a stunning view of the harbor.
I’m going slightly off track for the moment, just in case you don’t read past three paragraphs. Are you looking for a place for Thanksgiving dinner? Wit & Wisdom is open on Thanksgiving with a three-course prix fixe autumn inspired menu from 2pm-8pm – Adult $85 and Children under 12 – $40.
Back on track: The recent visit was the perfect setting for our party of four women who seized the opportunity for great conversation and indulging in the warm atmosphere of the dining room. Service was on point, not intrusive, but there when they should be. I especially enjoyed NOT being called “you guys”, a real pet peeve of mine. Servers at most restaurants say “you guys” and last time I looked I didn’t the necessary “guy” equipment.
With a new expanded menu of shareable plates, it was a tossup of the Anson Mills Hush Puppies with lemon crème fraîche, lobster vinaigrette and caviar or the Seared Foie Gras Waffle with blood orange marmalade with bourbon maple syrup. My choice was the hush puppies. When they arrived, they were crispy morsels, resembling little mountains topped with caviar rather than snow. Other starters for our party were the Split Pea Soup and the Pear and Endive Salad.
My companion for dinner and former columnist with me at the BaltimoreExaminer.com, Cindy Plackmyer, is extremely knowledgeable about the bar scene in Baltimore. She was amenable and happy to give me her notes to share with you on our cocktails:
- My personal favorite was the Duck Season Old Fashioned, and it’s one of the more expensive of their cocktail offerings this fall for $15. Have one, it’s worth it. This libation contains duck fat and rosemary-washed Four Roses Yellow Label, cane syrup, rosemary and bitters, so it’s an interesting spin on a traditional Old Fashioned. Tasty and potent.
- The Pilgrim’s Shadow was also notable and also at $15, the combination of rum, Amaro (a bittersweet Italian herbal liqueur), and chocolate bitters make it unusual and memorable. El Dorado rum, Montenegro Amaro, Dolin Blanc, Aztec Chocolate Bitters with cocoa salted rim.
- 50/50 Martini contains St. George gin and Cocchi Americano (a quinine laced aperitif that dates back to 1891 and was made famous by James Bond’s Vesper martini).
- Last and not a table favorite was the Pear Mule. If the bartender would have prepared it as it’s written on the menu, it would have been mighty tasty with Bartlett pear, Tito’s vodka, lemon, agave, and ginger beer, however, it was splashed with anise and that overshadowed the entire experience. It was served, properly, in a copper mug, so extra points for presentation.
Duck seems to be a predominant offering throughout the menus from the Duck Season Old Fashioned, Duck Confit Mac & Cheese with tarragon and pumpernickel crumbs, Duck Fried Rice, and the Smoked Duck Breast entrée with turnip confit, Brussels sprouts and fig au jus: our party indulged in all four.
My Steamed Halibut was wrapped in Savoy cabbage, topping a spaghetti squash cake and the squash and clam broth was poured table-side.
In Baltimore, various interpretations of a crab cake prevail; enter the Blue Crab Cake at Wit & Wisdom which is stacked on creamed leeks, decorative squiggles of orange gastrique on the plate and a small dollop of orange marmalade on top, like a small crown.
One of the gals in our party has extreme food intolerances and the kitchen and server were able to put together a simple yet tasty meal. I must say the simple preparation of the steak with butter, salt and pepper, which I tasted, was probably the best steak I’ve had outside my own home.
Wines by the glass were chosen with the assistance of the sommelier and those who indulged, truly enjoyed the pairings.
We were all in by this time, so, yes, we indulged in desserts; a unique presentation of an apple sundae, a chocolate bar with salted caramel and coconut lime ice cream with toasted hazelnuts and the chocolate soufflé with mint ice cream (Think Girl Scout Chocolate Mint cookies flavor profile). The soufflé was baked in a small copper pan and dusted with fresh mint – a real indulgence and worth the calories. As for my companions, I have no recollection of anything being left on their dessert plates. Be sure to check out the slideshow on many of our dishes and cocktails.
Now, the upcoming special events At Wit & Wisdom:
Brunch with Santa
The whole family will enjoy spending time with Jolly ole’ Saint Nick, while the pastry team will be on hand to help decorate cookies with the kids.
• December 17, 2017 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
• USD 69.00 per adult; USD 39.00 per child under 12
Christmas Eve Brunch
Enjoy all the comforts of home without having to lift a finger all morning long.
• Available 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
• USD 69.00 per adult; USD 39.00 per child under 12
Christmas Dinner will feature a three-course seasonal menu of hearty holiday favorites.
• Available 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm
• USD 85.00 per adult; USD 40.00 per child under 12
Wit & Wisdom – A Tavern by Michael Mina
Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
200 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 12102
Social Media: @WitWisdomTavern
For Dara Bunjon if it is food, Dara Does It, in fact, that is the name of her company which offers creative solutions for the food industry the likes of public relations, marketing, social media, cookbook compilations, food styling, culinary events, networking and freelance writing. You will now find Dara applying her broad range of culinary skills as a food stylist for television chefs/cookbook authors the likes of Steven Raichlen, Sara Moulton, Nick Malgieri, and Nathalie Dupree. Dara Bunjon lives, eats, dreams and writes about food and isn’t hesitant to share her views and experiences about restaurants, culinary trends, recipes, cookbooks or even her childhood food memories. She has been on the food scene for too many years to mention. Known both in Baltimore and nationally, Dara Bunjon is a former member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs’ national public relations committee.
In the past, she has written for Style Magazine, Foodservice Monthly, Mid-Atlantic Restaurant Digest, Urbanite and other sundry publications. Since 2004 she has maintained an award-winning food-related blog called Dining Dish. She co-authored her first cookbook Yum! Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats in association with Studio Spear. And has written Baltimore restaurant reviews for Gayot.com
Dara believes food is subjective; everyone’s taste is different and she enjoys bringing you to her table to commiserate and enjoy lively discourse.
Considered one of Baltimore’s food influencers, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @daracooks.