When MCCN sat down to talk to Cristan Dadant, it was a feat in itself, Dadant is a busy woman, managing, seating, and making sure everyone was doing okay. She's been in the food industry for a long time and knows what it takes to run an effective and beloved restaurant. She has also watched as her husband has gained more and more knowledge about different cuisines, adding to his international repertoire of recipes.
Dadant tells how Chef Blick pours over culinary books and magazines as voraciously as she goes through mystery novels. Perhaps that's why Clementine has its own charcuterie. Fresh sausages, hams, and pates are made and sold on-site, plus, they even make their own syrups, jams, salad dressing and ketchup.
You kind of get the idea that high standards in freshness are a big deal and Dadant reveals that their relationship with local farms are a big deal to them as well. On their menu and website, they cite the local farms that they partner with for fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. It's clear that Chef Blick has a passion for food. Blick also stifles none of his chefs with limits and unnecessary rules. Dadant says, "The only rule is that it must taste good."
The menu at Clementine entails a range of good ol' American items, but it also offers some international goodies such as: Moroccan Carrot Salad with Cilantro, Korean-Style Pork Cheeks, Chad's Chicken Tikka Masala, and Caldo de Gallina, a Peruvian breakfast stew with Guinea hen, potatoes, carrots and egg noodles in a citrus broth. Interest peaked?
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday but on Saturdays and Sundays they also do breakfast. Thinking that a Clementine breakfast is your predictable bacon, eggs, pancakes, and waffles. Not so! The breakfast menu is just as multi-cultural as the lunch and dinner offerings with Korean, Mexican, Indian and Belgian offerings available.
The menu can be daunting but with the help of the wait-staff or a little help from friends, which you can make quickly when you are sitting so closeby; you can make a well-informed decision. Granted, I didn't get my dinner and appetizer suggestions from my new-found friends until after I had ordered and eaten, but that's what return visits are for. Sitting just an arms reach away from me were Jack and Marcy Sturgill. They have been making weekly visits to Clementine since they opened ten years ago and they say they miss it when they can't make it during the week. Marcy's recommendation-the mussels. Apparently, the mussels are a must, so looks like I'll be checking back in again soon.
What I did have was a dish that was good enough for Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Clementine's Duck Two Ways was submitted for the 4th Annual Buy Local Cook-Out, hosted by Governor O'Malley and Mrs. O'Malley. I don't know what they thought of it, but I thought it was creative, savory and fun. The dish is creative and fun because you don't exactly know what to expect, so there is an element of surprise in how it's prepared two uniquely different ways.
Duck two ways is a seared duck breast topped with pulled leg duck confit with beer barbejus. I know you're thinking I misspelled this word but they really call it barbejus, and it's a barbeque sauce that seems to alow the juiciness of the duck and the barbecue sauce to coincide. That's my definition and I'm sticking to it. The seared duck breast is tender and juicy with a tasty top layer of fat sealing in the tenderness. It really is worthy trying.
My dining companion tried the Crabcakes with Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade. Now if you're looking for those big overstuffed Maryland crabcakes, this may not be for you. This crabcake is meaty but not big. It's rather flat as crabcakes go, but the taste of the broiled crab meat is pure, clean, crispy on top and succulent in between. Hey, sometimes less is more!
Both the duck and crabcakes were served with Gouda Mashed Potatoes that were dreamy as well as grilled zuchini and yellow squash. What a welcome summer treat! I am usually not so impressed with the addition of grilled vegetables, but the squash was so juicy and tasty without being under or over-seasoned, that it really allowed the vegetables to shine.
If you are just going to Clementine for appetizers, the portions are very generous. Try the Duck Nachos, if only to say "I had duck nachos." Clementine's Macaroni & Cheese is also a good pick, but only if you like tomatoes and chives in your mac. If not, maybe go with Marcy's Mussels pick!
Clementine is a not-so hidden treasure in Baltimore, but it is off the beaten track, so make your way there for a friendly, fun and feast-worthy time with family and friends. From American to Korean to Indian dishes, there's sure to be something that strikes your fancy!