Located in the art-rich northwestern Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden, The Dogwood’s décor and creative menu are right at home. Executive Chef Galen Sampson and Maitre’d Bridget Sampson, a husband-wife team, began with a take-out business. Their use of sustainable foods combined with an admirable social mission has made them a local favorite. Their mission: to provide training and employment to folks overcoming addiction, incarceration, homelessness and/or underemployment.
Altruistic notions aside, how’s the food? The first thing you’ll notice is the casual-slash-hippie-slash-artistic-slash-romantic feel of the interior. Pretty but a bit cramped. Our server was extremely knowledgeable about the Chef’s philosophy, the restaurant’s social mission and the menu items, including wine selections. And she conveyed all this information is a friendly, professional manner.
Our server recommended the Goat Cheese Bruschetta – a special menu item that evening. The dish boasted very fresh ingredients…but was difficult to eat. We received one large, thick slice of crostini shmeared with delicious creamy goat cheese. Fresh, ripe tomatoes adorned it and the surrounding real estate of the platter. Olive oil and fresh basil completed the dish. We were trying to cut that crostini into smaller pieces so each of the three of us could have a bite. Needless to say, it was not a graceful operation.
Corn and squash sauté – from the Sides section of the menu:
Summer Corn-Local Squash Saute
with jalapeno butter $7
Fresh ingredients sing in this simple and satisfying dish. Well-seasoned. The corn’s sweetness kept me going back in for more. I tasted no heat whatsoever from the jalapeno butter. Tell me – why are restaurants so timid with peppers? If you mention a hot pepper in the menu description, I want to taste it.
Short ribs with corn bread – comfort food. Menu description:
Ancho Braised Grass-fed Beef Short Ribs
green chile cornbread with sage, spicy braising jus BBQ, garlic sauteed greens and market vegetables $24
The Capital T tender short ribs melt in your mouth. A sweet and rich sauce – enough to sop up with the corn bread but not smothering the meat. Corn bread was dense and satsifying. A fabulous dish. That’s what I would order next time.
Forbidden rice risotto – a beautiful dish to look at but underseasoned. The menu describes it as:
Forbidden Rice & Roasted Butternut Squash- Cauliflower Curry (v)
with zucchini and yellow squash, organic black rice, mild curried coconut sauce with Vann’s spices, golden currants, toasted almonds and today’s vegetable $18
The black rice was visually intriguing and had a pleasant nutty flavor. Fresh diced vegetables covered the disc of rice. Bright orange carrots and vivid green snow peas accompanied the star of the plate. I would have preferred a bit more heat to counterbalance the sweetness of the veggies and raisins. When I think “curry”, I think aromatic, flavorful, and heat. Of everything I tasted, the forbidden rice risotto was my least favorite.
Mac and blue is described as:
“Mac” and Blue
artisan blue cheese, farfalle, ginger breadcrumbs $7
I can sum it up in one word: decadent. The al dente pasta bowties were dressed up with tangy blue cheese and a ginger breadcrumbs crust. I especially loved the crispy edges they achieved by baking it in the serving vessel. The leftover became my breakfast the next morning.
Even though I wasn’t impressed with the dish I chose, the other plates were good. All things considered: atmosphere, service, taste, and value – I award Dogwood THREE FORKS.Dogwood 911 W 36th St
Baltimore, MD 21211 410-889-0952