Hampden's newest restaurant, The Food Market, is planning to open its doors to the public next Friday. I got a look at the interior this afternoon, and it's looking good. The menu is also great.
Chef Chad Gauss and his business partner Elan Kotz have been working toward this goal since last year when the duo took over the former grocery store on The Avenue.
A lot of thought has gone into the décor: the outdoor sign was painted by a tattoo artist, bar stools have backs and swivel, tables are black walnut; chairs aluminum; the floor is white oak in a smoky-ash shade; and the kitchen is open—accessible enough so the chef can have conversations with diners, he hopes.
Other pluses: There will be complimentary valet parking, food will be available until 1 a.m., and brunch will be served Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
"I wanted to make it a perfect experience for everyone," said Chad, a Baltimore International College culinary grad who most recently was executive chef at City Cafe. "We didn't cut any corners. We wanted to do it right."
That same philosophy plays out in the food offerings, too. The menu is divided into categories:
Little (nibbles), like Buffalo pickles (breaded, fried pickles with house-made hot sauce) and hot nuts with rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, and sea salt.
Small (appetizers), like chicken and biscuits, popcorn crab balls, and panko Brie.
Big (entrees from $15-32), like crab cakes, spaghetti and crab meatballs, and bison.
In Between, like a burger, Baltimore club, and lobster fingers and fries.
Three fix: three courses for $33.
Chad will make his own desserts, too.
"We want to be an everyday place," where people can get a burger and a beer or a steak and Champagne, he said. "I understand people and what they are looking for."