To taste a spoonful of beef ramen or enjoy crab frittata or delight in a cool glass of Viognier at Baked Bistro in Downtown Hampton, a bit of time travel is required. Thirty years back and 1,000 paces away in the lanky environs of the Woodlands golf course, Brandy Fertitta met Maria Haney. Golf course grills can be gold mines, and this one was no different. Fertitta was the bony teen girl driving the beer cart, and Haney was her boss, jealous of the younger woman’s ability to sell beer.
“Every Saturday I’d try to get out there, and this one would beat me every time,” Haney says with faux outrage. Once the playful spite subsided, a mentorship began, and it lasted 15 years. More than anything, Haney taught Fertitta how to cook.
Back in the future with Fertitta’s artwork on the wall, a bowl of ramen and a Billsburg lager on the table, it’s hard to believe all that has happened. Fertitta went off to college and became an art teacher. Haney did several tours through the kitchens of Hampton, turning out one delicious dish after another. The duo remained close, crossing paths at infamous canteens like Marker 20.
In 2016, Fertitta quit her day job and opened Glazed Doughnuts, which offers scrumptious varieties of cake and yeast dunkers, as well as savory treats like the kolache, a sausage baked in dough and accompanied by cheese, jalapeños, bacon and stone ground mustard. When the front of the building that houses Glazed became available, they began to talk of working together again—this time with the mentee in charge.
The results speak for themselves. If pigs were sweet and grew on trees, they would taste like the jiggy figgy flatbread at Baked. Homemade fig jam, crispy capicola, goat cheese and arugula pair perfectly with the Chateau de Mus Languedoc Red Blend Gold Label.
While the food may be fancy, the thrift store plates and hand-me-down knickknacks keep the mood loose for the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, a sour-forward sour beer with vanilla and coffee hind notes that make an intergalactic connection to the Swiss cheese on the baked potato French dip. The beer and deconstructed dish are long lost soul brothers, and they stroll off hand in hand as dessert arrives: an M&M cupcake paired with a papaya and lychee CBD seltzer from Cirrus.
Rewind a few minutes and see a forkful of baked potato dripping with au jus. Fast forward to Sunday brunch, a plate of grits on a date with biscuits and gravy. It’s lunch again and the waitress puts down the soup of the day, noting, “She put some extra love in there.”
Haney smiles from the kitchen as Fertitta scurries off to another meeting, ambassador being a job title she isn’t quite comfortable with, but it sure beats getting up at 2 in the morning to make the doughnuts at Glazed. She says she misses the students from her former life in the public schools, but one does wonder what our lives would be like without Baked’s muffuletta with a side of cheese tortellini and a cold brew coffee from Rogue Elephant to wash it down. Although Haney’s hands can fold a potsticker faster and better than a thousand robots, the challenge of running two restaurants is one her former mentee musters with a little help from her friends.
“It’s hard to tell them what to do,” she notes, and that is where the lady behind the curtain, Andrea Carey, comes in. The former front-of-house manager at Conch & Bucket and Hampton Taphouse, Carey plays the role of bad cop, wicked stepmother and shoulder to cry on. Where Fertitta is a whirlwind of creativity, Carey is a sea wall of calm fortitude. Where Fertitta is a sprite skipping through the meadow, Carey is a job site forewoman frowning over folded arms. Where Fertitta is a girl giggling over mimosas, Carey makes sure the champagne order is placed on time.
Not that any of these women couldn’t do this by themselves. Each of them is fiercely capable in their own right, but at Baked Bistro they come together to form a culinary squadron that is equal parts delicious and awe inspiring. It’s hard to find a reason not to go there, and Glazed/Baked often provide a two-stop for parents and kids: sugar high at one, hop high at the other. Blueberry cake with icing at one, Poet’s Leap riesling at the other. Breakfast at one, and a long, lazy lunch at the other.