So if you’re familiar with Just Grubbin and the Just Grubbin Podcast, you know my reviews are never written after the first visit. And you also know I never take pictures of my meals, (I’m the worst, and I apologize boss) but most days I’m just so hungry that I just dive right in. I also think my writing is something like Poe, or Hemingway, and the way I describe my meal, my words should illustrate the scene just fine.
So like I said, this isn’t my first time at Pen and Quill, my first experience with it was when it was in its infancy as a restaurant. I believe when I made my first visit, Pen and Quill had only been open maybe 2 months so even though my first experience was a home run, I wanted to wait a few more months to see if the joint would become anything of worth. And boy has it. Since its inception last summer, Pen and Quill has stirred up some press in the local Baltimore Food News. Being named one of the Top 50 Restaurants by Baltimore Magazine. And it should. Its menu is large with many contemporary takes on classic dishes, such as my appetizer from last night and the first vist, Tuna Crudo Nachos.
This what this restaurant specializes in, taking a classic dish such as nachos and putting a contemporary spin on by using wonton chips instead of corn tortillas, and using the freshest ahi tuna with an avocado, corn salsa. When I tell you this dish is one of the best appetizers I have ever eaten, I’m not joking. The assembly of all the fresh ingredients reminded me of a the warm summer days coming soon. The freshness of the salsa, the sweet corn, the spicy jalapeños, ugh just typing this is making me want another order.
What I have found out about Pen & Quill, is that they make killer sandwiches. My first visit I ordered a Cuban Sandwich. It was a skeptical order just because there is no Cuban influence in this restaurant, but good god this sandwich was a hit. A Cuban sandwich is one of my favorite sandwiches, but unless its made from a true Cuban, they can be pretty shitty. But not this one. Everything from P&Q is fresh, and when fresh ingredients come together, everything tastes better. The house made porchetta was so juicy and tender, and the crispy bread the sandwich came on the pairing of the two were a match made in heaven.
The most recent time at P&Q I was struggling to choose to my meal. And this usually happens because so many things on menus appeal to my appetite. So knowing that the Cuban sandwich was a hit I went with another sandwich. The Prime Rib Sandwich, to be exact. I was feeling fancy and was teetering with the idea of ordering their actual cut of prime rib, but then was really in the mood for French fries, so I killed 2 birds with 1 stone, and pulled the trigger to order the sandwich. Upon arrival of the sandwich I was stunned to see how much shaved pieces of prime rib were loaded into this roll. The sandwich was MAASSIVE!! Accompanying the sandwich was home made onion straws and home made au jus. The combination of the horseradish aioli the au jus, and the crispiness of the onion straws, made this sandwiches one of the best sandwiches I have had in a really long time.
As for the libations, Pen & Quill may have one of the best beer lists in the city. The list comprises of 8 draft beers (6 from the DMV) , 21 canned beers (9 local from the DMV) and 22 bottled beers (none produced locally). If beer isn’t your jam, well 1 fuck you, and 2 don’t fret, they have 7 hand made fresh cocktails, and a very extensive wine list.
I feel as if Pen & Quill is gonna be a staple for me in the next upcoming months, when the weather gets nicer, they offer a few seats on the sidewalk, and its location in the art district of the city, it makes it a nice date spot after catching an indie movie at the Charles Theater or seeing a piece of art at the Metro Gallery, both conveniently placed directly across the street and next door.
If you enjoyed this, check out more posts from the Just Grubbin team here! Also make sure to listen to The Just Grubbin podcast to hear us go into further detail about this and to hear all of our random irreverent takes on food, drink and whatever else.