If Damian Mosley wasn’t Damian Mosley, and if Blacksauce Kitchen wasn’t Blacksauce Kitchen, the business owner might be in talks right now to franchise his Baltimore restaurant to bring his buttermilk biscuits to, say, Dubai.

But that is so not Mosley’s style. Instead, the restaurateur is serving up some of the city’s most innovative food — and most sought-after biscuits — on his own terms. His Remington carryout is open just two days a week and at a nearby farmers market. Biscuit sandwiches are sold Saturdays, while a lengthier menu of entrees is offered on Thursdays, with pre-orders opening on Wednesday.

The restaurant’s name helps capture the breadth of Black diaspora cooking that Mosley draws on for his weekly menus. Recently, it was Creole influences, which Mosley, who went to culinary school and pursued a master’s degree in food culture at New York University, translated into dishes like a short rib po’boy and rabbit and dumplings, a riff on a childhood favorite.

“I felt like it would be fascinating for people,” Mosley said of the decision to use rabbit instead of the chicken he grew up with. “It also meant I made half the amount, because I knew half the people would order it.”

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We’re seated inside his Remington eatery, which reopened in 2021 after an electrical fire three years earlier. A hood overhead and a melted poster on the wall are reminders of the previous building.

A poster inside Blacksauce Kitchen at 401 W. 29th St. in Remington was saved from a 2018 fire. (Christina Tkacik)

Mosley, who began selling buttermilk biscuits in Baltimore 14 years ago, stresses that there’s a huge amount of behind-the-scenes labor that goes into keeping the restaurant open beyond the Thursdays and Saturdays it operates. Just before our interview Monday, he was troubleshooting how to repair some tents that got snapped by the wind at the most recent farmers market. Later on, he’ll come up with the menu for the week, which he posts to Instagram Wednesday at noon.

“It’s really hard not to be a Blacksauce fan,” said Safa Batniji, who was a Blacksauce supporter long before she began working for the restaurant a few months ago. “It’s more than just food.” The business fosters a sense of community among diners, who might be waiting as long as half an hour for a meal at the farmers market.

Customers have been known to await the weekly menu drops with the excitement and anticipation that used to precede a new iPhone release. “People have bets with each other [to see] who can place their lunch order first,” Batniji said.

Smoky and sweet are recurring themes in Damian Mosley’s cooking at Blacksauce Kitchen. The interplay of both leads to an effect that's simultaneously familiar and surprising. (Christina Tkacik)

Mosley has a way of cooking food that is both intensely familiar and not at all what you’d expect. After last week’s menu went live, I excitedly ordered just about every item available, picking it up Thursday at the shop and returning home with my haul.

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Carryout doesn’t always stop me in my tracks, but this food did. A thick filet of battered and fried snapper was perfectly tender on the inside, tucked into moist coco bread and brightened up with mango slaw. Succulent oxtail was nestled in a tray next to homemade roti, the unleavened bread rolled up like a towel.

There are no afterthoughts at Blacksauce; side dishes are just as likely to impress as the proteins they accompany. An order of wood-roasted vegetables with grilled plantain bread tasted comforting and exciting at the same time. Sweet guava barbecued chicken came with Jamaican rice and cow peas that surprised me with their rich smokiness. I washed it down with Mosley’s take on sorrel, a richly spiced hibiscus beverage.

In combining soul food with influences from around the globe, Mosley creates “a culinary mystery,” said Minkah Makalani, who directs the Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University and is a fan of Mosley’s cooking.

Makalani recalls his first introduction to Blacksauce biscuits at the 32nd Street Farmers Market a few years ago. “I don’t use this word often, but it was almost spiritual,” he said of his first bite, which transported him to childhood visits to family in Tennessee. Though he was pescatarian at the time, he gobbled up two more biscuits with meat in them. “I blame him for knocking me off the wagon,” he laughed.

Makalani’s story isn’t atypical for Blacksauce fans: Mosley says he has customers who keep a vegan diet six days a week so they can eat his biscuit sandwiches on the seventh day. “I’m comfortable with that,” he said.

And, after more than a decade, Blacksauce customers have come to accept the restaurant on its own terms. People have stopped pestering him to open up another location, or to expand his hours or days of operation. “A lot of people look at us now and realize, ‘They just are who they are,’” Mosley said.

Christina Tkacik is the food reporter for The Baltimore Banner.

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