Wit & Wisdom, a tavern by Michael Mina, is the place to go when you want to dine. You know the difference; eating can be the local bar, corner restaurant and carry-out. Dining to me is not only fine edibles but the whole experience – top-notched service and au courant libations – dining becomes the entertainment for the evening. Located in Baltimore’s Four Seasons Hotel, Wit & Wisdom offers that warmth travelers desire, spaciousness diners enjoy and the inexplicable feeling that you are very special.
The husband and I dined there as guests of Wit & Wisdom, they are promoting their seasonal multi- course tasting menus with optional paired wine and ale. Seated at a table facing the harbor view through a large picture window we could see the reflection of all the activity in the open kitchen in the window as well as the harbor’s colorful lights.
Once seated, Wit & Wisdom’s award winning mixologist Aaron Joseph brought over a house specialty, the Eastern Sparkle; a lovely concoction of kumquats, coriander, simple syrup and topped with sparkling wine. The menu looked intriguing, there were some items I didn’t know if the husband would eat, not a fan of anything raw, he cleaned his plate and exclaimed that there was a difference with quality items.
Along with the tasting menu we were treated to two amuse bouche, a cornmeal crusted oyster over a bed of spinach, perfection visually and as a one bite tease and a dessert amuse. The five course dinner is $69 per person and $30 for the optional beverage pairings. All guests at the table must participate in the seasonal tasting menu. There is a copy of our menu in the slideshow but note they change items on the menu from time-to-time, especially if an item arrives that inspires the kitchen. We were also treated to Michael Mina’s famous steak tartare which was mixed table side combining Asian pear, pine nuts, crushed garlic, a quail’s egg yolk and habanera infused oil with optional toast points as the means to bring this to your taste buds.
Let’s talk Wit & Wisdom’s new executive chef but not a new comer to the Michael Mina Group, Executive Chef Zachary Mills. A native Marylander, he attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and got to study with world renowned chefs the likes of André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres. As you will see from his interview below he had dined at a Michael Mina restaurant in Atlantic City and thought that was the best meal he had had. Serendipity and next thing you know, Chef Mills is sous chef at the Washington Post’s multi -star rated Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in Washington D.C. He flourished, did his due-diligence and grew to executive sous chef and oversaw the culinary operations for a selection Mina’s restaurant operations restaurants along with several notable restaurant openings including PABU in Baltimore, Maryland; The Handle Bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and most recently Pub 1842 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chef Mills had a moment to sit and chat, played small world and I asked a number of my culinary questions for fun.
Dara: You arrive at the pearly gates and Julia Child is standing there, what would you ask her?
Chef Mills: How did you feel the first time you were on television?
Dara: What is the oldest food item in your home refrigerator?
Chef Mills: Condiments – oyster sauce and Sriracha
Dara: What was your biggest culinary fail?
Chef Mills: Conceptualizing a black and white sashimi dish it worked in my head but no on the plate.
Dara: Truffle Oil?
Chef Mills: no comment but made a face
Dara: Most memorable meal?
Chef Mills: Michael Mina’s Seablue Restaurant in Atlantic City, this was way before I went to work for him and a big reason that I did.
If you are downtown Baltimore at lunch time you might want to check out their express lunch for only $19.95. When you truly want to dine do put Wit & Wisdom on your list.
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