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September 17, 2009

Fine dining at the new Reserve in Federal Hill



Yesterday I talked to Matt Merkel, the chef at the new Reserve in Federal Hill. When Midnight Sun Sam first blogged about it, I wrote it off as a bar that would have such thrilling food as Buffalo wings and burgers.

Instead the menu includes tuna tataki, cornmeal-crusted red grouper in a smoked salmon caper beurre blanc, a Buffalo strip steak with parsnip puree, and pan-roasted boneless quail. The new menu, which will be available soon, will have food and wine pairings. ...

Merkel says the hope is to eventually move the bar crowd upstairs and focus on fine dining in the space downstairs. The upstairs is still being renovated so it doesn't sound like that will happen any time soon.

Merkel has worked in the kitchens of fine-dining restaurants in Annapolis and Frederick, and was at Don't Know Tavern before coming to the Reserve.

I'm impressed that a restaurant, even if it is a bar/restaurant, is trying something ambitious in these troubled times. I recently got an e-mail from the Downtown Partnership mentioning some of the new places that will be opening up around town.

We're just lucky they include two tapas bars. No, I have nothing against pubs. I'm just not the one who reviews them except on rare occasions.

All Nations Restaurant is set to open in October at 7 E. Lexington St. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this restaurant and bar will serve pizza, overstuffed subs, sandwiches, pasta, and salad for eat in, carry-out or delivery.

All Star's Bar and Grill will open above the “Upper Deck” at 34 S. Eutaw St. This sports bar will be open 7 days a week, and will serve up pub fare, as well as karaoke and live bands for its patrons.

Esquire Pub will open in October in the new Quality Inn at 110 St. Paul St. This bar will offer light pub fare to hotel guests as well as the public, and will also be available for private events.

Liam's North, formerly “Liam's Pint-Size Pub”, will open next year on North Ave. near Maryland Ave. Once a staple of Mount Vernon, after a long hiatus this pub will find a new home in Station North.

Miguel's will open this fall in the Silo Point Condominiums at 1200 Stuart St. With outdoor seating and great Silo Point views, this new restaurant will offer a menu of Spanish-style tapas.

Tapas Adela will open this fall at 814 S. Broadway. The latest addition to Kali's Restaurant Group, Tapas Adela will host a menu of Spanish tapas with a modern twist.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:23 AM | | Comments (5)


it will be a tough sell for fine dining in that location.

How will this affect Don't Know's kitchen? Any changes there?

JD- No major changes to the menu other than a few for the football season. Same menu, same quality and consitency.

I hope the dining availability changes the scene in the Reserve. Stopped in the week they first opened and had a nice time at the bar. A week later they had a doorman on a Thurs. night and the music was too loud to hear each other talk. VeryMad River-ish. Sat at the bar for five minutes and then left after not being served.

The menu looks great. I would be thrilled to have another nice dining option in the neighborhood so i hope it works out.

I have been to the Reserve a few times now and have had a great experience every time. The scallops and the crab dip are both amazing! It is nice having real crab meat in a crab dip. It isn't your typical bar food; it is much better!

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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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