Traveling for Food: WEST Kitchen & Tavern in Annapolis

I'm not absolutely positive how it happened, but last week your truly was invited to attend a dinner at the very new WEST. Kitchen & Tavern in Annapolis. The very best part, unlike most of the restaurants I've "traveled for food" to, I can easily return to this one. And return I will. WEST. Kitchen & Tavern is located on West Street in downtown Annapolis. It's really a charming area (I wasn't too sure where I was going got there a little early and took a little drive up and down the street before heading to the Lowe's Annapolis, which shares an address with WEST.

More than ready to give us a taste of the thoroughly designed and locally crafted beverage program, we started the evening with a few cocktails and some snacks.

The Johnny Hawkins

The Johnny Hawkins, made with gin, fresh grapefruit, basil, sea salt & tonic. I can't say I'm a huge fan of gin, but I can see how someone who is would love this. It was very refreshing, and the grapefruit juice was a very prominent flavor. I later found out I was drinking it "wrong." There was salt on the other side of this glass and apparently sipping it through the salt makes the grapefruit taste that much sweeter.

WEST charcuterie plate

WEST cheese plate

WEST pitas and hummus

WEST 'Our Crush' cocktailI was a tad more comfortable with the 'Our' Crush. A vodka based cocktail with Valencia orange, cherries, vanilla and cherry bark bitters.

When it was time to take our seats for dinner, we were greeted by some very pleasant servers siphoning fresh sodas at each of our place settings.

soda siphoning at WESTThese are of course, no ordinary carbonated beverages. Nothing I tasted at WEST. could really be considered ordinary. Beautifully and deliciously simple would probably be a more apt description. All of the bases for these sodas (as well as all of the cocktail mixers) are made right in the restaurant.

WEST cucumber cobblestone fresh soda

Next came some appetizers, and Chef Kevin Relf to make sure all of us bloggers and media folks new just what we were snapping photos of tasting. It was also great to hear Chef Relf discuss the kitchen's use of local and seasonal ingredients.

WEST Heirloom Tomato SaladGiving us a little lingering taste of summer was the Heirloom Tomato Salad with watermelon, blue cheese, macadamia nuts, mint and a 'fines herbes' emulsion.

WEST beef tenderloin pizzaThe Beef Tenderloin pizza with taleggio cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary and mushrooms.

WEST Heirloom Tomato PizzaThe Heirloom Tomato Pizza. Again, beautifully simple with only mozzarella, basil and olive oil in addition to the tomatoes.

WEST Chef Kevin ReifIt also wouldn't be a complete meal at WEST without sampling the handiwork of local celebrity oyster shucker Lester Jones.

Legendary Annapolis Oyster shucker Lester Jones

WEST oyster sampler

WEST oyster

We were given the difficult task of choosing our own entree. OK, so it wasn't that difficult, I have a hard time ordering anything else when Rockfish is on a menu. It's that whole MD seafood pride complex.

WEST RockfishThis particular piece of fish was served on top of extra virgin olive oil smashed red bliss potatoes and a tomato lemon salsa. I was blown away by this dish. The skin on the Rockfish was perfectly crispy, providing a contrast to the smooth potatoes and the lemon lightened everything perfectly.

Somewhere among all this food I found myself without a beverage. It wasn't a long lived thirst though as I quickly zeroed in on the 'New' Old Fashioned Cocktail.

WEST 'New' Old Fashioned CocktailMine was made with Pikesville Maryland Straight Rye, muddled orange, orange bitters and a Luxardo cherry.

This was one of those instances when your stomach will allow you to eat everything in sight and then still have room for dessert. Like it was secretly saving the extra space for you. It was a good thing too as resistance would have been futile.

WEST cherries and chocolate dessertCherries and chocolate.

WEST Ricotta and Orange ZeppolesRicotta & Orange Zeppoles with Berry Sauce

WEST Bread PuddingBread pudding with bourbon caramel and mint hard sauce.

Rob and I have discussed heading to Annapolis for a weekend many times. Another meal at WEST. is proving as excellent motivation to finally get it planned. The food is delicious, the space is charming and the staff is wonderful. Not to mention the street the restaurant is located on is undergoing some revitalization projects and actually reminded me a lot of downtown Frederick.

Thank you to the team at WEST for inviting me to experience WEST.

*This event was for bloggers/media. All opinions and photos however are my own.*