I want to take my roommate someplace nice for his birthday, and Clementine (5402 Harford Rd, 410-444-1497) popped into my mind. I’ve been there several times, and their website claim of serving “fancy-pants comfort food” is accurate.
When we arrived, my dining companion observed that Clementine is the
Anthropologie of restaurants, comparing the décor to the high-end eclectic store. We were seated in a booth in the main dining room, which was somewhat noisy, since the restaurant has lots of hard surfaces – wood floors and tables without carpet or tablecloths, and local art and mounted deer heads on the wall.
Thursday night is discount wine night, with a special menu for less expensive bottles of wine. Unfortunately, the first two bottles of red wine I asked about are no longer available, but Plungerhead Zinfandel is available for $23.
The menu always includes some beef, chicken and pork, and at least one seafood dish, and almost everything is prepared in-house. All the ingredients are as local and natural as possible.
Entrees are in the $20-$30 range, and meatless entrees are usually under $20. My companion decided on the Restaurant Week menu ($35.11); for the first course he chose the braised duck nachos, the second, the miso-brined rockfish, and the dessert, coconut cake.
I usually get the chicken salad sandwich ($7.95) – which is delicious because the chicken salad is made with tarragon, chives and rosemary and the sandwich is made with lemon jam and dill havarti cheese – but I decided to change it up. I chose three appetizers as my meal: the oyster stew ($5), mac n’cheese ($5) and braised duck nachos ($12). When I asked about one of the sauces, the waitress described it, and also brings a sample for me to try.
My oyster stew and mac n’cheese came out first, along with my companion’s braised duck nachos. The oyster stew is thick and delicious. My cup had four oysters in it and was very thick, more like bisque than a traditional oyster stew. The mac n’cheese was a generous portion, with chopped tomatoes and scallions throughout and a delectable crust of cheese baked on top.
The braised duck nachos were a perfect blend of spicy and savory, topped with queso fresco and red and green homemade salsas as well as a big dollop of sour cream. There was a healthy amount of the shredded braised duck scattered in clumps over the nachos.
Unfortunately, when the main dishes come out, my companion received the cornmeal crusted trout rather than the rockfish he ordered. By the time his correct entrée arrived, I finished my duck nachos; however, his rockfish is delicious. It was brined in tomato and miso, and served over roasted tomato risotto with Asian vegetables.
For dessert, my companion chose the coconut cake, which is my absolute favorite dessert at Clementine. The cake is double layered, with shredded coconut sprinkled not only over top but also in between the layers. The best part is the icing, a decadent meringue-like mix of egg whites and sugar called "double-boiler," or "seven-minute" frosting.
We had an outstanding meal!