Cristin Dedant is one of the busiest chef-owners in Baltimore’s restaurant scene. So I was pleased that she made the time to sit down with me, one recent Saturday morning, on one of the comfy couches in Clementine, to talk about their two new ventures. It may have been the first time I’ve ever seen her sit still.
Dedant has been the energizing force behind Clementine, since the Hamilton farm-to-table restaurant opened its doors on April 29, 2008.
The 40-seat, reservation-only restaurant they began with was more than Dedant and partner Winston Blick had imagined when they first took over the building to start a catering business. Soon, the locals complained that they couldn’t get in to eat at what they felt was their neighborhood eatery, so the couple expanded the restaurant to an adjoining space and can now seat 89, with walk-ins welcome.
Partners in their professional and personal lives, the pair has worked together in various Baltimore bistros and at independent catering events. Dedant is the hospitality and business manager in the front of the house and Blick, the imaginative chef, eager to cook with the best of the day’s produce and market offerings.
Their menu has always had regularly appearing favorites, as well as daily dishes made from scratch with what the purveyors deliver.
Blick enjoys talking with his sources and knows when the halibut is perfect, the snapper a little dry and whether the broccoli is having a bad day.
He is happy to combine old and new and will even include a few ethnic specialties, such as the breakfast Korean Hot Pot.
Their closest-to-home project is The Green Onion Market, opening today a few door down from the restaurant on Harford Road.
With a third partner, Richard Marsiglia, Blick and Dedant have been designing it to have the feel of an old-time food market.
They chiseled off seven layers of cement, for instance, to get down to the old blue-and-white tile floor. They’re also using wooden doors and recycled wood to build counters and tabletops.
The store will be stocked with milk, cream and ice cream from places like Prigel farm.
Cheese butter and yogurt will be from local makers as well. They’ll have seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs on hand, as well as grains and oils that will be local when possible. (There are, after all, no olives growing in Maryland.)
Clementine’s own charcuterie and baked goods will be for sale. Jams and honey will be local and they plan to expand their relationship with suppliers – from farmers to foragers. They will be buying local turkeys, chicken and sometimes more exotic birds and partnering with two sustainable meat providers. (Sorry if this sounds like that scene from Portlandia!) There will be a few tables, for sandwiches, soups, salads and smoothies.
The other venture, soft-launching today, is a second home - “Clementine at the Creative Alliance”- on Eastern Avenue. Located in the Marquee Lounge, it will be both a restaurant and the arts center’s in-house food service. The current sous chef at Clementine, Jeremy Price, will take over at this new Highlandtown location. Former Woodberry Kitchen chef, Jill Snyder, will take over as executive chef at Clementine’s Hamilton location. A general manager (Andreas “Andy” Tzortzinas) was brought on earlier this year to help Dedant and Blick coordinate it all.
Since these two new operations are just opening, it might be wise to call over to Clementine in Hamilton (410-444-1497, at 5402 Harford Road) to check about hours and such.
5500 Harford Road
Tues. – Sun. 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Clementine at the Creative Alliance
3134 Eastern Avenue
(They plan a grand opening on May 24. For reservations, taken starting May 21, call 410-444-1497 or email [email protected] Hours after the grand opening, and presumably this weekend, will be Thu – Sat 5 p.m.-11 p.m., bar till midnight. Sun brunch 10 a.m.-.3 p.m.)
What I Ate at Clementine
As long as I was visiting, I had to eat. I chose the Poached Eggs on Seared Duck Hash, made with fingerling potatoes and shredded cabbage, with habanero fig cream. I can never resist the cheese grits, so a side of that also.
The eggs had clear yellow orange yolks and were as tasty as a good custard. The duck was dried in Clementine’s drying room, which is where their charcuterie is made. No chemicals are used, only spices and herbs to taste, and it’s dried to USDA standards.
Zeke’s Coffee roasts a special “Oh My Darlin’ ” dark roast coffee for Clementine, which I had, iced, with a splash of Prigel organic heavy cream.
Normally I would have had the Fruit Salad with Mint Lime Dressing, but I chose to have a taste of the Cardamom Cream Pie with Salted Pistachio Brittle. Glad I did – it was very light and airy and the sweet salty creamy flavor enhanced with the cardamom with really a nice medley of flavors.
I did take home a sack of muffins and scones for friends and family to taste and there was only one negative: they are really large. But none remained, so, as usual; the proof is in the eating.
All the egg dishes are very tasty, and though I myself am not a huge waffle fan, I have had a taste, when an eating-buddy ordered them, and they are the real thing. Slightly crisp on the outside and spongy in the middle, with just a hint of sweetness.
The breakfast dishes are served until 2:30, so if you time it right you get to have breakfast and lunch from one of my favorite menus. Though the assortment of dishes on the actual lunch menu do not disappoint.
Clementine makes all baked good and desserts on premises. Here too fresh local ingredients are used as available. The original house baker was Winston Blick’s mom, whose coconut cake recipe is still used. When the restaurant grew, Amanda Smith, an experienced, from scratch baker, took over, and kept a few of the original recipes. A whole coconut cake can be purchased, if ordered in advance.
5402 Harford Road
Wed and Thurs. 11 am – 9 p.m.
Fri. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sat. 8:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. breakfast served until 2 p.m.
Sun. 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. breakfast served until 2 p.m.