Nestled in the cozy Belvedere Square, home to the beloved Belvedere Market as well as several other restaurants, boutiques, and watering holes, Shoo-Fly Diner is the newest concept by Chef/Owner Spike Gjerde.
Embracing the same ideas of using fresh, local and sustainable ingredients as he does at his other restaurants, Woodberry Kitchen and Artifact Coffee, Gjerde has created a diner concept that is as flawless on paper as is it is in execution. Not a detail is overlooked and the results are, well, absolutely delectable.
On a recent Sunday morning, I had the pleasure of enjoying brunch at Shoo-Fly and as a late riser, I appreciated that their brunch extends from 9 a.m. all the way until 3 p.m. (at which point they close for a mere hour to prepare for dinner service, and reopen at 4 p.m.).
While seats at the restaurant’s communal tables that overlook the kitchen were all taken, and the upstairs dining area was not open, the breakfast bar had plenty of seats and we were immediately greeted by Chris, one of the friendliest and most knowledgeable servers I have had the pleasure to encounter.
Chris quickly filled our coffee cups with Counter Culture coffee, a staple at Gjerde’s restaurants. We were quick to take him up on the recommendation of trying the beignets while we perused the rest of the menu. We were beyond excited that we did.
These beignets were just the right consistency, pleasantly crispy on the outside and delicately fluffy on the inside, all four of them perched atop an amazing maple syrup and dusted with powdered sugar. These, paired with our coffee were the perfect start to brunch.
The choices on the menu for breakfast and brunch are many and range from staple items like the $9 all day plate of 2 eggs, meat, and biscuit or toast, to local favorites like Crab Benedict. There were also sandwiches like the Oyster Po’ Boy or the inventive Scrappledelphia sandwich, a mix of apples, griddled onions, scrapple, cheddar and mustard.
I decided that there was no way I could walk away without trying the Fried Chicken Benedict, while my dining companion, who has a small obsession with the sausage sandwich at Artifact Coffee, couldn’t pass up the $9 plate, getting the sausage, of course, as the meat, with the eggs cooked sunny side up.
While our dishes were being composed in the kitchen, Chris was more than happy to answer questions, share information about the restaurant, and talk up Gjerde’s next establishment, Parts and Labor, which is to open in Remington later this year.
One of our favorite tidbits was that those big clear machines slushing around liquids or smoothie-consistency beverages on the counters behind the breakfast bar, like at diners “back in the day,” were not mixing up plain old orange juice or iced coffee. Nope. These old time mixing machines are stirring up some of the best brunch (or anytime!) cocktails around. Think Black Russians, Plum Wine Slushies, and an orange juice slushie much like a mimosa. As usual, too, these are housemade concoctions – no boxes or bags of premade products here. Just fresh ingredients resulting in amazing beverages.
When our plates arrived, I was just as impressed as I had planned to be by the presentation, if not moreso. My split biscuit lay as foundation for a split perfectly fried breast of chicken (one half on each biscuit), each topped with a poached egg and then slathered in the most beautiful and delicious hollandaise sauce I have had to date. The one perfect bite, when I could get a piece of everything – biscuit, chicken, egg white, runny yolk, and creamy hollandaise – was an incredible combination of fluffy biscuit goodness with a crispy, crunchy fry on a still-moist chunk of chicken all elevated in texture and taste by the eggs and sauce. This is probably one of the most decadent, but heavenly, brunch items I’ve had the pleasure to indulge in.
The sunny side up eggs also came out looking gorgeous and were perfectly cooked (nothing ruins breakfast like an overdone egg, in my opinion!). The sausage was the same product as what is found at Artifact but was a tad bit more well done than it tends to be at the sister location. Still, each of our plates were presented beautifully and tasted even more amazing.
While their brunch, on Saturday and Sunday, is incredible, if dinner is what you are looking for, they have an inspired menu to fulfill any craving from inventive sandwiches and salads to elevated diner fare in the form of fried chicken, meatloaf, rockfish and even a chili mac.
And for those of you who like to wet your whistle after work, or late into the evening, there are drink specials and food specials at the bar. Disco fries, hush doggies, and picnic eggs (deviled eggs), are some of the bar snacks you can enjoy while sipping on one of those pre-made cocktails or slushies, or have the experienced bartender make one of his specialties.
510 E Belvedere Ave, Baltimore, MD 21212