Dining: Shab Row Bistro perfectly complements shopping plaza
As I sat in the Shab Row Bistro, I thought of Yogi Bera's famous quip: "It's déjà vu all over again."
I was scheduled to review Shab Row's predecessor months ago, but dropped by during its last full week of business. I had been waiting several months for this new restaurant to open.
The experience was worth the wait.
Shab Row Bistro is a lovely place full of well designed details, good food and a significant variety of wines to accompany the menu. On that point, my guest for the visit felt the food was designed to complement the wine because the flavors were subtle and not as fully flavored as they could have been. Because we stopped in for lunch, we did not partake of alcohol, but easily could imagine the pairing of the two.
Our meal began with the soup of the day, a chilled carrot ginger. It was light, flavorful and nearly perfect at five dollars. It was delivered by one of the most delightful young waiters I have encountered in a long time. He was knowledgeable and did not hover, allowing diners to enjoy the experience.
Choosing a main selection was a challenge because there were so many unique offerings. My guest decided on a crab salad ($16). It was a respectable portion of jumbo lump crab meat sprinkled over a salad of baby arugula, cucumber and oranges and lightly dressed with a cumin-scented oil.
Intrigued by the name, I decided on the popular "Not Your Mother's Meatloaf" sandwich ($10). The sandwich is an experience I would love to have again and again. The combination of a well-seasoned meatloaf, topped with a trifecta of aged cheddar, caramelized onion and tomato chutney made my taste buds smile. I did substitute the bread as it is served on jalapeño cheddar and I am not a lover of that pepper. I chose the country bread a hearty loaf that could handle the combination of flavors. A side of haricot verts and potatoes brought back memories of a Paris café meal.
The bistro's menu is made for those who appreciate fine dining and quality ingredients. A crostini appetizer is available ($8) and is served with roasted tomato and fennel dip, a white bean and truffle dip and a final dip of roasted artichoke. A cheese course allows the diner to select from nine offerings in pairings of three ($15) or five ($25). Salads, in addition to the crab, include prosciutto arugula, roasted baby beet and tuna nicoise ($9-$19). Additional sandwiches include ahi tuna, prosciutto, and a duck confit ($9-$13).
More substantial selections included steak or tuna tatare, a roasted vegetable flatbread or the flatbread merguez, filled with lamb sausage, roasted pine nuts and peppers and shaved pecorino ($11-$16).
Dessert offerings ($7-$10) allow patrons to choose from passion fruit mousses, assorted miniature pastries or a seasonal crème brulee. The flatbread chocolate is served with caramelized bananas, apples, hazelnut chocolate spread, hazelnuts and a fromage blanc.
The Shab Row Bistro's wine list features over two hundred opportunities to sample and pair with a meal. A sophisticated menu of cocktails was an intriguing read and the beer list consists of a variety of domestic and more uncommon imported brews.
According to their print material, Shab Row Bistro is owned and operated by Michael King, along with co-owners Lindsay and Jack Clark. Michael's background includes culinary training from Le Cordon Bleu and Sommelier training from the International Guild of Sommeliers and the French Wine Society, which is obvious reading the menu and wine list.
Shab Row Bistro
221 N. East Street, Frederick
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday ; Noon-8 p.m. Sunday ; Closed Monday