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May 14, 2010

Bang on, Baltimore!

Elephant & CastleThe Inner Harbor is getting yet another chain restaurant.

The good news: it's a relatively obscure chain, called Elephant & Castle.

The bad news: it serves British food.

Didn't Baltimore fight off the Brits in 1814 to rid the land of bangers and mash? 

Judging by the online menu, however, it looks a whole lot like standard American pub fare: steak sandwiches, chicken Caesar salads and the like. Mixed in are a few English classics like fish and chips and the aforementioned bangers and mash.

More British flavor can be had in the restaurant's slogan, "Bang on!" The menu goes to the trouble of translating for Americans: "adj. British Slang. Excellent. Exact. Right On."

Sounds like the perfect complement to the city's new tourism slogan, "Find Your Happy Place in Baltimore."

The chain has more than 20 locations in the U.S. and Canada, including Boston, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco and Toronto. There are two in Washington.

Let's hope it's good because the place will be plenty big and prominent. It will seat 278 at 1 Pratt Street, according to plans submitted to the liquor board, which approved its liquor license Thursday.

Elephant & Castle photo

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:27 AM | | Comments (14)


I just ate at one of these restaurants in Washington, DC, a few weeks ago, and it was not bad. Definitely has chain written all over it, but not an illogical addition to the Inner Harbor, I don't think.

I can't remember what I ate (not a good sign, I guess) but they had a decent beer selection, and the bathrooms were clean. The atmosphere was very pleasant, too. Sure beats TGIF and Applebee's, IMO.

Wonder if they have steak and kidney pie? Blood pudding? or perhaps even that Scottish favorite, haggis?

clearly you haven't eaten in the UK for a while. I have had some of the most amazing food at restaurants there. Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell is an excellent example. Riffs on traditional British food.

PCBRob: While Scotland and England may be part of the United Kingdom, they are far apart in terms of culture and cuisine. I once made the mistake of referring to my Glasgow-born son-in-law as an Englishman and he didn't speak to me for days. As for Haggis, even the Scots admit that this admixture of innards and gruel is "an acquired taste." I doubt that you'll find it on any American menu although maybe Guy Fieri can find some diner in the hinterlands that actually serves the stuff.

I'll say that I've thought for some time now that Baltimore doesn't need yet another Irish pub - I suppose this is just different enough that I'll reserve judgment. I suppose I'm rather keen to give it a try.

Sounds like British Disney. Love the elephant, hauling its white man's burden. Bang on, Empire.

I'm all for something new and not a Chinese-American Joint, another taco stand or Irish pub. I'll give it a go at least once.

I looked at the menu for one of the locations in DC and noticed they have nachos and crabcakes. No Haggis or blood pudding. If you go the Scottish festival in Cecil County you can get Haggis there. Tastes like liver and oatmeal.

Speaking of chains, when I was at the Iron Hill Brewery in Newark, DE a couple of weeks ago the waiter said they are planning a branch in the Baltimore area. If all Iron Hill restaurants are as good as the one in Newark I will welcome them with open arms. I had a very good smoked porter. Perhaps Alexander D. Mitchell IV will let us know more.

Should we consider a ritual "shelling" of the establishment on September 13th to get back at the brits for what they did to Ft. McHenry? Maybe a number of boat owners could gather in the harbor and lob bangers and blood sausages at the establishment. Let's see how long they'd keep THEIR flag waving!

I assume you've heard of Dick's Last Resort moving into the Power Plant next to Pot Belly? Zoning sign and a menu posted already.

Looks....uh...well its coming.

Great, now we can get a banger in our happy place. I've eaten at the location in DC. The American appetizers were good, but both the English entrees and beer selection were decidely average.

Does anyone know of a good Chinese/Mexican/Eskimo restaurant?

You know, someplace where I can gat a decent whale blubber stir fry with mole sauce.

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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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