The Tasting Room (101 North market Street)- I go there several times a year and I have to say that the food that I have had has always been uniformly very good with occasional bursts of excellence. They serve what I would call contemporary American Cuisine. I also love the fact that the menu changes from season to season. (It changes faster than their website which at the time that I write this still has their Fall 2007 menu on it). This time I had the shrimp with linguine and spring vegetables. It made a nice light, springtime lunch. It was ostensibly dressed with white truffle oil, but I couldn’t taste the truffles. I tend to gravitate towards the pasta because it is always cooked perfectly; I know al dente means different things to different people but they hit my al dente spot. I also tried some of my companion’s Sicilian tuna steak which was superb. Had a great crust on the outside and moist and perfectly cooked on the inside. Much better than my linguine!
As the name implies they have a good wine selection. The shoot for coverage rather than depth, and the list has a little bit of everything so its fairly easy to find something you like. Their wine list is around 100 bottles. They also have a bunch of wines by the glass. I had a nice Sancerre which went well with the shrimp.
It’s a fun space and different from most other Frederick restaurants. It’s located in a beautiful old building with very modern decor. Specials are written on chalkboards and there are etched glass panels with pendant lighting which creates an interesting juxtaposition between the old architecture and the modern decor. Occasionally with all the windows you feel as if you are in a fishbowl, and the tables are quite close together so its not a place for an intimate dinner. Again ( A Fred pet peeve I know) but I always wonder why restaurants feel the need to keep a TV going. It always seems to cheapen the atmosphere in a nice restaurant. On the plus side the service is always formally impeccable and a cut above most other restaurants in Frederick.
All in all the Tasting Room is one of the premiere fine dining restaurants in Frederick. This comes at a price however. The tab with tip for two lunches, two glasses of wine and one dessert (a delicious creme brulee by the way) was $68. This generally puts it in the special occasion category for me. You don’t have to get a meal though. They have a nice bar where you can get a glass of wine (or two) or one of their specialty cocktails and take in the scene. Their mojito looked good and I intend to go back and try one soon.