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August 12, 2009

One new restaurant and a Top 10 Wednesday

AmericanBrasserie1.jpgThis week in Table Talk I tell readers about the new B & O American Brasserie adjacent to the Hotel Monaco Baltimore. I didn't put it in the column, but the press release listed "composting" as one of the eco-measures the kitchen is doing.

I asked the PR person why the kitchen was composting -- I mean, isn't this downtown Baltimore? It turns out the composting hasn't actually started yet, but maybe there'll be a roof garden or something. ...

I also got hold of Jordan Naftal, the owner of Jordan's Steakhouse in Ellicott City, and found out more about what will be happening when he takes over oZ. Chophouse in Maple Lawn.

And, as usual, there's a Deal of the Week, a recurring feature that sometimes feels like just one bar special after another (not this week's, however). So if you know of any that aren't, please post below.

In today's Taste section there's also a reprint of last Tuesday's Top 10 on cream of crab soup, one of the most popular ones I've done recently. I was frankly amazed. I thought people really preferred Maryland crab and were no longer very interested in cream of crab because of the calories and cholesterol involved. Was I wrong.

(Kim Hairston/Sun photographer)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:27 AM | | Comments (39)


A good name for a restaurant attached to something called the Hotel Monaco Baltimore would be Oxymoron ... Our special of the day is fresh frozen halibut with jumbo shrimp.

i actually went to B&O the first friday it was open for some drinks in the lounge area and some items off the bar menu and was pleasantly surprised.

the head drink maker is the guy from ixia and their prices were pretty reasonable for such a fancy place. we got the margarita pizza (great "free form" crust with good cheese and a nice garlic zing), the BBQ meatball sliders (made with pork, veal and beef we were told and you could tell....very tasty), and the mussels with frits (large portion, could have used some more seasoning in the sauce but otherwise great looking mussels).

also the price of each item above was about $7/8, which is pretty reasonable, and the presentation was great.

i also had an interesting thyme, blueberry, gin drink and everyone else i was with was very impressed with the place.

might even be going back this weekend for a legit dinner.

In looking at the photo in your Table Talk on-line column, I wonder how you are supposed to eat such a dish? Do you try to pick pieces off the edges to avoid collapsing the whole thing like one of those games where you remove sticks and lose when it collapses, or do you just push everything off onto whatever unused part of the plate is left? I can appreciate such a presentation as art, but as dinner? Do Brasseries around the world do such things? Or just when they want to show how trendy they are while evoking the corner Bistro? Enquiring minds want to know.

RiE, I'd thought the tall-food thing had passed, but apparently I was wrong.

I love playing Jenga at the dinner table!!

Composting can be done in a closed containter anywhere - city or county - in a trash can with holes drilled into it for aeration. I hope this restaurant carries out with their composting aspirations.

Of course. But what do you do with the compost if you're the restaurant and can't eventually bury it in the back yard? I mean, even we run out of room in the winter for our compost; imagine how much a restaurant would create. EL

They also serve filtered water from the tap, including a fizzy version, instead of bottled water. Very cool.

Liz, Thanks so much for the great piece! It's always a pleasure working with you.

I hope many of your readers will come check out B&O American Brasserie and Chef E. Michael Reidt.

We've had a great opening thus far. We're working out some kinks, as is typical with all new restaurants, but I think this place is going to be a winner for Baltimore.

Amy (Publicist for B&O American Brasserie)

Shill! Shill!

Oh, wait... ;)

Sounds like an interesting place. I do believe we'll check it out.

We stayed in the Hotel Monaco in New Orleans in 2002 or 2003, can't remember which. It was absolutely amazing, coolest hotel I've visited. The decor was stupendous, there were leopard print bathrobes (!), netting above the bed, and you could have a goldfish keep you company during your stay. AND every day there was a wine reception in the lobby with a massage therapist. Sadly, it didn't reopen after Katrina, although I believe it's now a Hilton.

We stayed at the Monaco in DC once. We hated the restaurant.

and you could have a goldfish keep you company during your stay.

sean, I'm in a phrase-collecting mood and that one is definitely a keeper.

Hal, how was the hotel?

In a completely unrelated note, anyone been to Arcos lately? We went a couple years ago for our birthdays & didn't have the best experience. The highlight was that the waiter left off one of our pitchers of margarita. The low points were the smelly trash we were seated next to and the chicken in my vegetable enchiladas. I'd like to try it again, just wondering about others' experiences.

Topic drift? Me? No way.

Amy (Publicist for B&O American Brasserie) wrote: We're working out some kinks, as is typical with all new restaurants, but I think this place is going to be a winner for Baltimore.

Translation into plain English: Please, please, please, EL -- don't review us until we've been open for at least several months!

And for God's sakes, just give us three stars, even if we deserve 3.5!

I want to go just to see the inside of that building. I love old buildings.

Amy, your post is the kind of interaction with PR people I like to see around here. Informative, and you gave your tie to the place up front. Thank you.

What kind of company is a goldfish, exactly? Do they swim faster when you come in the door? Swim upside down on request?

Well, we actually decided to skip the goldfish, so I can't attest to the sort of companionship they provide. What I know about goldfish, though, is that when they're upside down, they're swimming days are over.

Lissa, the goldfish is just an hors d'oeuvre.

Sean, our reaction to the hotel was mixed. There was some impressive architecture, but some impractical things as well. Like having to walk a long, long way to the other half of the building to get to the ice machine.

Really? "They're" swimming days?!? Yikes. Long day.


sean, I always heard that for companionship in a New Orleans hotel room, better options than a goldfish could be had in the French Quarter. ;-)

A number of years ago I read about a hotel that had some resident cats who were allowed to "visit" guest rooms if mutually desired. Obviously not The Monoco New Orleans, unless new goldfish are considered part of the daily room make-up.

Ah, so the goldfish is an amuse bouche? Perhaps they anticipate that I'll be entertaining frat boys in my room?

Do they have a flagpole, too?

I just wrote about my experience at the B&O in my column. I really enjoyed it and think the place has great potential.

RiE, house cats...yes, that would be a lovely service. I miss my cats when I travel. When I worked in a nursing home, I used to take my cat to visit my patients.

That would be especially nice during a conference. Get in from dealing with people for 12-16 hours, get a little purr time in...oh, yes! Forget the massage, bring me a moggie!

Awhile back there was a story about a resident cat at a nursing home somewhere. Well this cat became known as the grim reaper, because when it would go into someone's room and cuddle with them, they would die a few hours later. Can you imagine laying there, and this cat comes walking into your room...

Trixie, that was in a House episode I saw recently.

There was an AP story, which made the rounds (on MSNBC and elsewhere) two years ago, on Oscar the nursing home cat.

Trixie, if I were to get to choose, I'd go in my sleep, petting a cat.

There comes a time when life is a burden to many people. I bet some of the residents were thrilled to see Oscar walk into their rooms.

Could not agree with you more Lissa.

I heard the B&O restaurant reached out to the Ixia staff when it was announced Ixia would close. This strikes me as a nice gesture. Plus, talk about recycling.

I also saw an article about resident cat(s) at a hotel (The Plaza in New York?). They have the run of the place, and enjoy guests' attention. I don't know if they go into guest rooms, but who knows...?

Hush, folks. If my Dagny sees this, she'll want me to move to a hotel with her, so there will be, maybe, enough humans to pet her.

How long will this chef stay? Does he have a contract? He looks like a job hopper.

Lissa, cats, Birkenstocks, patchouli? Oh my.

Trixie, the cat is question in House turned to cuddle with soon-to-die patients because their fever/body temp spiked nd they just liked the warmth.

Can anybody tell me why my favorite male TV characters are Greg House, David Duchovny in Californication, Detective Goren in L&O Criminal Intent (Vincent Donofrio!),, Dexter, and Adrian Monk.

Amateur psychologoists knock yourself out.

Owl, cause you're a male wh*re?

I only know Californication which is why I threw that out there. BTW, new season in September!

Forget Californication--Mad Men is back tomorrow night--and in Baltimore's own
"Haussner's"! There is an excellent article in the September Vanity Fair on the show. I especially liked the bit about their attention to detail. In one show apples were too big and perfect for 1963. And it is a struggle to find Danish pastries that are small enough for that era.

Oh Joyce. Me, a man-whore? I wish. No, these characters while talented and quirky (to say the least) have no ability to have (healthy) long term relationships with women. Except for DD they are all puzzle solvers. Most women want a destination, not a process. I also have the ability to find the craziest woman in any room and fall in love with her. And now the room is the internet. Lucky me.

Martha says hello

How is Honey?

Oh, Owl. I'm so sorry, but the ability to find the craziest woman and any room and fall in love with her, isn't yours alone. I also have that charming gift!

so i finally went back to B&O this weekend for a dinner with my girlfriend and her parents, and although it was a great experience overall, there was one thing that kind of tainted the evening (for me).

First the good stuff: we started with a meatball appetizer that came in a small cast iron dish and was served with tomato sauce and pieces of tomato, which was pretty tasty (not as good as the BBQ meatball sliders though), and we also had the cornmeal encrusted oysters that came with a watermellon and jicama (i think) salad which was also pretty tasty.

The ladies at the table had the mixed greens salad and they both were extremely pleased with those (they came with walnuts, green beans and a nice light house dressing)

As for main dishes, my girlfriend had the balsamic and cherry reduced scallops, which was apparently good enough that i didn't even get my normal taste. her stepdad got the rockfish which he said was really good, and her mom got the fisherman's stew, which came with clams, fish, mussels, and shrimp in a nice broth with pieces of tomato (possibly some other vegetables as well). I tried one of the shrimp, and was extremely impressed with the size and quality, as well as the taste of the broth.

Now to my dish, the 24-hour pot roast served over polenta with a side of vegetables. First the positives: the vegetables were really fresh and perfectly cooked so as not to be mushy, and the polenta was a nice light starch option to contrast against the large piece of roast. but the thing i couldn't get over about the dish, despite the roast being cooked perfectly, was the lack of flavor. Extreme lack of flavor. It was almost as if the dish didn't get seasoned at all. I let both my girlfriend and her mom try some just in case i was taking crazy pills, but they confirmed that it didn't taste like any seasoning had been used in the dish.

It was too bad and i went back and forth about if i should say something that evening. Not because i wanted something free, or it taken off my bill, but just because there was so much i liked about the place that i would want them to know about it. ultimately, i figured maybe this comment was a better way of communicating the info.

so there was that. otherwise the night was great and we ended with a trio of great desserts: butterscotch pudding with a wonderfully surprising lemon infused whipped cream (with a gingerbread wafer on top), strawberry and rhubarb cobbler with ice cream, and the "big" creme brulle, which featured a long brulle with 8 or 9 various toppings set in stages from peanuts to ginger and others.

so overall a pretty good experience, but considering this wasn't the first "lack of flavor" dishes i'd had here (the mussells broth was similarly lacking in my first visit) it puts up a warning flag.

but not one big enough to keep me from coming back.

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About this 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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