Devoted Baltimore gourmands assure that Hampden’s Food Market offers savory dining experiences within walking distance of the Homewood campus. We’ve relentlessly spent a year and a half restaurant-going; documenting the locations that cater to our insatiable appetites along the way.
We believe that the Market offers an experience surpassing a gourmand’s primary desire for excellent food.
The sophisticated, airy, and sleek atmosphere of The Food Market undoubtedly raises its fare to the next level.
The Food Market, which opened in June, is unique in both food and feel from most other restaurants on the Avenue.
Perhaps the restaurant attracts a slightly different crowd than other Hampden joints because of its daring culinary approaches to comfort food.
Upon walking into The Food Market, we completely forgot we were in Hampden.
The huge crowd, sophisticated décor and bustling waiters made the restaurant feel as though it were picked right out of Baltimore’s busy Inner Harbor and placed in the quieter Hampden area.
Characterized by a large room with high ceilings, the Market’s indoor space can be fairly noisy (depending on the crowd).
However, as New Yorkers, we are quite accustomed to speaking over a loud restaurant crowd, and the noise was not an issue during our dining experience.
Instead, we viewed the crowd as a familiar and encouraging display, and we eagerly sat down at our table.
Instead of the typical “appetizer” and “entrée” meal options, The Food Market’s menu offers four different portion sizes: “little”, “small”, “big” and “in between.”
Never in the entirety of our restaurant-reviewing careers have we come across a restaurant that acknowledges the fact that eaters can consume different amounts of the same dish. So, Chef Gauss, WE THANK YOU!
Though we very much admired and appreciated the new serving-size approach, it did not help our infamously indecisive ordering habits.
After perusing the menu for half an hour and finding ourselves still undecided, we saught guidance from our waitress, Nicole. Without hesitation, she recommended the Griddled Lamb Porterhouses with espresso, pecan, apricots and limoncello.
We trusted her judgement and ordered the embellished Griddled Lamb along with Risotto Crusted Mozzarella in tomato sauce, a Chopped Salad with cream cheese, brussel sprouts, beets, mac nut crumble and cranberry dressing.
For our entrées we chose another of Nicole’s suggestions: Chilean Sea Bass with spinach and grains and Truffle Parmesan Fries. The lamb chops and mozzarella held true to their “little” size and provided a perfect preview to the rest of our delicious dinner. The four bite-sized lamb chops were packed with flavor; the espresso rub enhanced the taste of the lamb chop while the apricot supplied an unexpected but welcomed sweetness.
The Risotto Crusted Mozzarella was a very sophisticated take on everyone’s favorite mozzarella stick. The crunchy risotto contrasted the warm, melting mozzarella center, leaving us fighting for the last bite. The Chopped Salad was a slightly bigger portion and turned out to be sweeter than we originally anticipated, but it definitely did not disappoint.
Each ingredient was so individually tasty that, when joined, the salad naturally became a dangerously delectable combination.
Our mouths were left watering after the first round of food, and we waited for the upcoming entrees with sky-high expectations.
Although we typically try to avoid corny analogies, our faces can be described only like those of children on Christmas morning as the Chilean Sea Bass approached our table. All self-discipline vanished after the first course, and we dove in forks in hand.
The Chilean Sea Bass practically melted under the touch of our utensils. The fish was generously seasoned, making the mild flavor of the grains and spinach impeccable.
Needless to say, the tender fish and bed of sautéed spinach and grains quickly disappeared. When the need to come up for air arose, we breaked with the Truffle Parmesan Fries, which were nothing short of addicting.
Once there was nothing left on our plates, we gratefully and excitedly accepted the dessert menu.
Three dishes concluded the evening: Milk Chocolate Pot du Crème with pretzels and whipped cream, Heath Bar Bread Pudding with condensed milk caramel and whipped cream, along with “Pretend It’s Your Birthday” chadvel ice cream cake, topped with raspberry syrup and a candle.
All were extremely satisfying, but the signature Heath Bar Bread Pudding was our decided favorite.
On another visit to The Food Market, we decided to share and test a larger number of dishes to maximize the amount of menu items tasted.
We loved everything from pretzels with rich Beer Cheese fondue, to the Duck Confit potato skins, to (our favorite) Pork Belly. A single mouthful of the Pork Belly melts on your tongue and explodes with flavor.
Part of the fun in visiting The Food Market is the constantly changing menu, for there are always new dishes with unexpected ingredient and flavor combinations. Though we recommend making reservations on weekends, you can enjoy the bar’s creative cocktails if you visit spontaneously and have to wait for a table.
After both visits, we left The Food Market extremely pleased with the exceedingly delicious food and great service. Before visiting the well-reviewed Market, we almost expected the waiters to be the “professional yet distant” type.
Instead, we were greeted by friendly smiles, honest opinions and fun personalities that hopped from table to table. The positive attitude of each member of the wait staff gave The Food Market a casual yet sophisticated feel.
The amiable servers combined with delicious meals makes The Food Market a spot we return to time and again.
Take the time to enjoy a meal at The Food Market before Restaurant Week ends!