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September 1, 2010

Strangeness in the night

Coq au vinIn this week's Shallow Thought Wednesdays post, John Lindner describes an encounter with Fat Eric's, a fine-dining take-out/delivery operation in the basement of a church on Fort Avenue. The operation strikes me as an interesting way to get in on the food industry without the huge start-up costs and serving staff needed for a sit-down restaurant. In that sense, the place has something in common with all those food trucks out there. But that's where the comparison ends. Fat Eric's menu is beyond anything you can buy on a truck. Here's John. LV

“Never trust your money to a chef,” he said. Because said chef is either “a sociopath, a drug addict, an alcoholic or a womanizer … or all of the above.”*
 
That, I would say, comprises the highlights of my notes** taken on a chance foodie encounter in Baltimore not too many nights ago.
 
The sentiment carries a bit of weight considering: A. The man I’m quoting is a chef; B. He has a business manager, thereby practicing what he preaches; C. He acquired his love of cooking from his grandmother who makes the best meatballs he’s ever had. I give points for grandmothers.
 
He’s Eric Jurewicz and, with business manager Tim Richards, he operates a kitchen in the basement of a long-former church at 301 E. Fort Ave.

We (group of friends) were casually strolling along Fort this night when we espied a sandwich board outside the church. It advertized coq au vin. The name of the restaurant – Fat Eric’s. We had to check it out.
 
I made coq au vin once, following a Richard Grausman recipe, and loved it. But I always wondered what coq au vin would taste like if it were made by someone who knew what he was doing. Fat Eric might be that guy.***
 
I don’t know yet because by the time we arrived he’d sold out.
 
We got to talking. Eric and Tim are from Minnesota (sports alert: I have it on good authority that the Vikings will not be sold to LA but the process will get scarier (for fans) before it gets ultimately happy), both are headhunters during the day (IT and engineering), and Eric trained at Cordon Bleu where he landed following a bout of higher education.
 
“College wasn’t working for me,” he said. Judging by the mango chicken over rice (a coq au vin consolation offering) that he whipped up while we jawed, Cordon Bleu did work.
 
Fat Eric’s delivers or you can carry out, but unless you bring your own table and chairs, you’re not dining in. I suppose you could eat standing up.
 
It follows the menu might be quirky. Each day Eric fashions an entrée that plays off an event in history. Yesterday, for instance, he served Italian beef in honor of Jimmy Hoffa being officially reported missing (Aug. 31, 1975).
 
Yet another reason to move to Baltimore.
 
OK, that’s it. My notes became increasingly scribbly as the evening progressed. I see that I paid $15.50 for the chicken, which ended up serving two very satisfactorily.

And Eric’s is closed on Saturday, because, he said, that’s Date Night.
 
Makes perfect sense to me.
 
*No wonder so many people want to be a top chef!
 
** Technically speaking, the notes were taken while I was “off duty” so they may not adhere to my normally strict standards of coherence.
 
*** Check out the video.

Coq au Vin from Cooking Light, not Fat Eric's. But you get the idea. Cooking Light photo
Posted by Laura Vozzella at 11:10 AM | | Comments (8)
        

Comments

Hahahaha!

This is awesome. I love the video, too. Hilarious!

Enjoyed your article and my mention. I've been told that my recipe for Coq au Vin is the best ever. So if you make it and enjoyed it, you may be disappointed when you finally get it in a restaurant. I did have a contemporary version of the dish made by Chef Daniel Boulud that matched the eating pleasure of the recipe in my book, AT HOME WITH THE FRENCH CLASSICS.

Are you aware of the work I've been doing the past 20 years? If not, check this out: http://ccapinc.org/alumni/ccap-20-for-20.pdf

Also, if you haven't yet seen the film PRESSURE COOKER, please do. It is out on DVD and available on Netflix.

Best,
Richard

That photo doesn't look much like MY Coq au Vin. Harrumph.

Been doing renovations on my kitchen this summer and can't cook. Fat Eric's has been a huge help.
I think I've had a meal once a week since they openned. Their food is great and so are the people that make/deliver the dishes to you.

The placintas and curry noodle salad are awesome!

"Mango chicken" for $15.50!? Is somebody kidding me?! How about going back to thr Cordon Bleu and learning how to make fried chicken and see if you can make it as good as the chicken dinner that Raley's in Southern Maryland serves for $3.25! "Mango chicken", Cordon Bleu... god have mercy. There's obviously still way way too much money around in this "down economy".

"Mango chicken" for $15.50!? Is somebody kidding me?!

I don't think of that as a particularly the quality of the dish.

Everyone has their price points and tastes; I'm certainly not exactly rolling in disposable income at the moment. Though, I certainly don't think of $15.50 as particularly precious.

Looking at their menu, it seems more upmarket comfort food-based than anything else.

Though the point of the article is that the dish may arguably be a bargain, if the business' pricing reflects lower overhead, no staff and cheaper rents.

Mango Chicken? That was my prison nickname.

Is Fat Eric's still open? I live a block away and have gone by the past two nights and it has been closed with the lights off. I've also repeatedly tried to get onto their website with no success...

Anyone know whether or not they closed?

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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