Many a celeb has stayed at the Loews Annapolis Hotel, but nobody has taken up permanent residence – until Theodore Folkman came to town last month. Folkman, a passionate chef and craft beer promoter with impressive culinary creds, is the new co-owner of Baroak Cookhouse and Tap Room at this popular hotel. Spacious and airy, with 153 seats indoors and additional tables (some picnic style) seating 90 on outdoor terraces, its modern décor suggests an upscale tavern.
Baroak, like its name, is an original addition to West Street’s restaurant scene. Its specialty is mussels, mussels and more mussels served with a variety of sauces, frites, brick oven pizzas and an extraordinary selection of Belgian beers. This formula made Folkman’s D.C. restaurant famous and promises to do the same for his Annapolis venture.
Chef Teddy, as he is known, had good answers to some questions I asked after devouring some of his marvelous mussels and sampling a few of the unique Belgian beers. A native New Yorker, he has spent the past 15 years honing his cooking skills under the mentorship of James Beard chef Ann Cashion.
Along the way, he bested Bobby Flay in a Food Network competition featuring “Moules and Frites”; garnered honors and accolades for the food, beer and ambiance of his tavern-style Granville Moore in DC; and attracted national media attention for activities that include co-founding DC Beer Week as well as volunteer work with underprivileged youth with
Q. What is the genesis of Baroak – and how is it pronounced?
A. The name is based upon the architectural design of the city of Annapolis, called Baroque Style, which we changed into Baroak to reflect the focal point of the restaurant – BAR and the heavy wood accents in the restaurant’s décor—OAK. Brainfood.
Q. Where do you get those wonderful mussels?
A. One source: Icy Blue Prince Edward Island. But since the horrible ice and snow storms struck PEI over the past few months, we are temporarily supplementing with mussels from other fisheries. We hope to be 100 percent Icy Blue by mid-April.
Q. You have a great brick oven at Baroak – makes super pizzas. What else?
A. EVERYTHING! It is such a great toy. Crab cakes, half-chickens, smoked wings, fish, veggies…we love it…our patrons love it.
Q. What are some of your personal favorites at Baroak?
A. Smoked wings, meat lovers’ flatbread, Steak and Cheese, lobster and crab mac, ummmm steak frites Belgian style and ALL the MUSSELS.
Q. Do you have any favorite recipes/favorite cook book and how would you describe your own personal style?
A. Cookbooks – anything by Thomas Keller. Style – I don’t have a style, rather more of a philosophy to treat every step of the cooking process as the most important, use the best ingredients, have fun, follow proper technique and don’t reinvent the wheel. Just make it really “round.”
Q. What about music at Baroak?
A. We have an eclectic mix of classic music inspired and performed by Motown and sing-songwriters old and new. You’ll hear Etta James followed by John Mayer with Ray Charles and Beck waiting in the que! I want music that people recognize and are not turned off by.
Baroak’s Hours: Breakfast 7-10:30 am; lunch/dinner 11 am-closing; Saturday and Sunday brunch 7 am-3 pm; Happy Hour 4-7 pm; indoor and outdoor dining