Saturday, February 22, 2014

National Museum of Civil War Medicine

This is my last post on our recent trip to Frederick, Maryland, and it's not food-related.  This one is on a cool place we visited that you all should visit if you're in the area and this is in your area of interest.

We visited the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.  It has a small storefront in the middle of downtown Frederick and is right next door to the public library and parking garage. The exhibits are arranged logically starting with how doctors at the time were educated and progressing through how doctors and nurses used their skills before, during, and after the Civil War, the new technology and procedures that developed during the Civil War, and how battle medicine is progressing into modern times. They also dispel many commonly held myths surrounding medicine at the time.  For example, 95% of battlefield amputations were performed with the use of anesthesia. It's a myth that soldiers just "bit the bullet".

If the Civil War and history of medicine are among your interests, I recommend stopping in for a visit.  They also have a small gift shop. Check the website for hours of operation and special events.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Brewer's Alley

Continuing with our trip to Frederick, Maryland, The Lovely Spouse and I joined some family members for a lunch at Brewer's Alley.  Brewer's Alley is a brewpub, meaning they brew their own beers on-site, in addition to serving food.  According to Maryland law they can also sell bottles, usually around 1-2 liters) or bombers (bottles, usually around 20-24 ounces).
beer to take away if it is in growlers (

Brewer's Alley was highly recommended by family living in the area, specifically for their food.  My family typically drinks only lite beer so this was also an opportunity for me to introduce them to some mild-tasting beers that have flavor.

Enter through a nice bar area.  There are 2 dining rooms off of this room.
The back dining room had nice stained glass. 
I ordered my family members a selection of beers without strong flavor that should appeal to drinkers of "lite beer".  They were intimidated by the size of the glasses, but each was a 6 ounce taster, therefore the entire flight was the equivalent of just over 2 regular sized beers.
I got myself a Scottish ale that was very much a Scottish ale.  Quite nice and well balanced.
Our meal started with a meat and cheese sampler. The seeded mustard was quite nice with the baked ham. 
A single crab cake platter for me.  This is what most people now associate with a true Maryland-style crab cake.  Mostly backfin crabmeat with just enough filler to keep it together. Served with steamed veggies.  The difference between the platter and the sandwich was $1 so I went with the platter. I chose correctly.  It was delicious and I would go back again just for the crab cake.
The Lovely Spouse got the reuben. Those shoestring fries were delicious.  Evidently our family regularly visits Brewer's Alley just for the fries.  Hopefully they'll now also go for the good selection of on-site brewed craft beer.
Our group very much enjoyed our trip to Brewer's Alley.  Reviews on Trip Advisor and elsewhere are mixed and I wonder what people order or expect when they go there.  Prices were in line with what we saw at nearby restaurants and we really enjoyed our food.  The service was friendly and good. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

a.k.a. Friscos

Following our trip to Flying Dog Brewery The Lovely Spouse and I went to a nearby restaurant in the same industrial park for casual fare: a.k.a. Friscos.  Evidently Friscos has been featured on a Food Network show that I don't watch.  Regardless we went in with an open mind.

Being located in an industrial park, the restaurant is relatively hard to find if you haven't been there before.  The decor inside is very much like you're inside a warehouse, with cinderblock walls.  As you walk in you'll notice a station where your order is immediately taken and you're given samples of the soup of the day and the "exploded baked potato" of the day.  An exploded baked potato is mashed potatoes with the fixings you would normally get on a baked potato added in.  We liked what we sampled so we ordered both along with sandwiches. Mine was the baja chicken: curry chicken salad. It was delicious and I would order this again in a heartbeat.

A huge selection of soups, exploded baked potatoes, and sandwiches.
Samples available. Along with friendly service.

The Lovely Spouse got yummy and rich chili along with an exploded baked potato.
The baja chicken sandwich.  Curry chicken salad, sprouts, and tomato on sourdough.  Delicious.  Served here with a rich mushroom soup and shared exploded baked potato.
The prices were on par with what we've seen elsewhere in the region. Reviews on TripAdvisor were mixed, however it seems people in the area expect far lower prices than the restaurants in the area are now charging.

If you go and are a beer and wine drinker I recommend visiting the liquor store next door. They have a great selection of wines and craft beers at very good prices.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Family Meal

Continuing on our visit to Frederick, Maryland The Lovely Spouse and I had lunch at a restaurant called Family Meal.  Season 6 Top Chef Cheftestant Bryan Voltaggio opened this more casual restaurant in a former Nissan dealership following the success of his other restaurant Volt.  Long term readers may recall The Lovely Spouse and I visited Volt a couple years ago. Volt was a fantastic special occasion meal, however on this trip I was joined with family who wanted a casual dining experience.

We arrived without reservations and decided to sit the bar instead of waiting for a table. Immediately we were given filtered water and asked for our drink orders.  They had a small, but nice selection of craft beers in addition to some good top shelf liquors, as well as mulled wine and the standards of sodas, coffee, iced tea, etc.

Family Meal is most well known for its fried chicken so some in our group got that to share. It's half a fried chicken.  I was in the mood for a crabcake sandwich and The Lovely Spouse was in the mood for an omelet. We had to get the duck fat fries fat fries. And we got an order of mac and cheese to split with the group. 

One of the benefits to sitting at the bar is being able to see what goes on in the open kitchen. The deviled eggs are very popular. 

Fried chicken served in a chicken bowl.  It was good fried chicken - nice and moist and crispy.  

Omelet served with kitchen fries.  They were quite tasty. And very filling.

Duck fat fries served with 3 dipping sauces. One was a garlic sauce, an onion sauce and a siracha sauce.  Not quite enough duck fat flavor in the fries, but otherwise well preped fries.  I liked the siracha sauce. 

Crab cake sandwich. Not the typical Maryland style that everyone associates with G&M and Obryki's in Baltimore, but a good crab cake in its own right.  I was happy with it. Served with pickles. 

Mac and cheese.  Enough to serve several people.  Tasted good, but I was unable to eat much of it because it contained either garlic or onions (could taste it).

The main dining room.
In all our entire group enjoyed their lunch at Family Meal and will be likely to return.  It wasn't a cheap meal, but wasn't the special occasion splurge that Volt was. The prices were in line for what we had been seeing elsewhere for similar quality food in the area. The food was good and the service was friendly. And we enjoyed sitting at the bar. 

[Before anyone asks, no we did not see Bryan Voltaggio at the restaurant.  He now owns 3 restaurants and while I imagine he visits each to oversee operations, it would be impossible to be at all of them all the time.  We weren't expecting to see him.]