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October 14, 2010

Debate over Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx continues

Midnight Sun's review of Bistro Rx has stoked the commentariat, with Wayne Mahaffey himself joining the debate today.

Bistro Rx is the new bar and restaurant in Patteson Park. Or is it Upper Canton? or Highlandtown? Talking about neighborhoods in this town is like dropping a lit match on an ant hill. But that wasn't the only point of contention for readers, or Mahaffey.

That question is: is Bistro Rx that different from Parkside or Three, the two other establishments that opened at 2901 E Baltimore and closed?

Mahaffey, using his personal e-mail, bristled at the suggestion Bistro looks just like those places.

"Can I send you a copy of my contractor's invoice?" he wrote. "My goal was to have my customers not even think about the previous businesses when they walk in the door, to include decor, service, food quality and consistency, prices, management, attitude and ambiance."

He writes that his concept for Bistro is simple: "A good product at a good price and being nice to people." But this is business boilerplate. Restaurateurs always say they have a good product and are nice to customers.

Settling on a more specific concept might be better for consumers because they want a way to distinguish between the dozens of choices they have in the area. And as Jay Trucker also added, does that mean coming to a bar/restaurant that's more expensive than the neighborhood around it?

The debate is still open.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 12:05 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs



Woah. I am not sure a more biased, incorrect, and grammatically confusing summary of the comments could have been written. I still can't figure out what that last paragraph is trying to say.

1. Jay's big idea is a sports bar. Man, if only that area had a few sports bars...what a concept...
2. Talking about neighborhoods is not like lighting a match. Using a broad brush to paint an entire neighborhood as something on the other hand... Especially in a city as divers as Baltimore. For some reason I am not surprised that you haven't figured that out, I mean after stereotyping every VW fan, etc.
3. Give us something new to talk about. Not rehash an old post b/c it happened to get a high number of comments.

J, are you familiar with how the internet works? It's all about the hits. Of course there will be a post bumped up because it's still an issue people want to talk about.

I also can't believe people are still upset about this Vampire Weekend thing. Jesus.

I also can't believe people are still upset about this Vampire Weekend thing. Jesus.

Hahahahahahahaha ....

Teach me the ways of the inter-cables oh wise Josh.

What about a story about Neko Case skipping the New P show this Saturday at the Rams Head. bummer.

I'm glad you've seen the light, Apprentice J.

I will be bestowing wisdom here all week. Try the pot roast and don't forget to tip your server.

Ah, I was hoping we'd get to 100 comments before shutting down. I'm glad my review, which was initially titled "Early Review," has generated some discussion, much of it about social class in Baltimore.

There are plenty of successful non-sports bars that are less exclusive feeling than a wine bar. Johnny Radd's is doing a great job on the other end of the park, Taphouse is a fun place for good beers, and Mahaffey's own bar is a nice joint in an inclusive environment. The sports bar suggestion was in keeping with the park location, where there are a ton of rec leagues, but if no one in Highlantown wants rec leaguers' money, I am sure the rec leaguers will go elswhere. And spend.

There is also nothing wrong with a wine bar in and of itself, and as I indicated in my original piece, for a wine bar I really like this place. I wish Mr. Mahaffey much success. I enjoyed my visit Saturday and have high hopes for him. In my mind this neighborhood, which is, if you haven't guessed yet, a neighborhood very near and dear to me, is better suited for a more inclusive establishment that caters to a broader local audience. But the great thing about America is that business owners are allowed to run their own business as they see fit. I hope that this model works. It has not yet, but it is now in the hands of a capable operating owner. Good luck to all involved parties. I'll see you in Highlandtown.

"Talking about neighborhoods in this town is like dropping a lit match on an ant hill."

My God if that isn't the everloving truth.

Maybe you have to be a life-long Baltimorean, cause I don't get. The original article gave proper directions (after the original street misspelling fix), as was abundantly clear from the number of folks who weighed in, intent on educating the author (and pretty much everyone else on the planet) regarding the proper neighborhood name and boudaries.

Like it matters. If the folks who live around there want to argue about the correct neighborhood classification and boudaries till the cows come home, they're welcome to it. However, the nearly pathological need to argue the point ad nauseum is clearly something I'm never going to understand.

John I'm a lifelong Baltimorean and I don't really get it either

....though I did take the time to map out every single neighborhood in Google Earth so maybe it's in there somewhere...

John M, you clearly don't get it. We are not annoyed with Jay for getting the neighborhood name wrong, we are annoyed about the assumptions that he made about the clientele (horn-rimmed glasses wearing hipsters who must be from Harbor East) and the ability of the neighborhood to support it.

Jay's piece was a total hack job. He's obviously angry over the fact that he and his d-bag BSSC buddies won't be able to play beer pong and flip cup at the restaurant after they finish trashing the park with their empty beer cans.

I think the real problem is a snap judgement "review" put out 4 days after a restaurant opens. 99.9% of the neighborhood probably had no idea that they had opened at the time the "review" was posted. Believe it or not, people put stock into the "reviewers" opinion. It was a slag job of the worst, most uninformed kind. Way to go guys.

Man, was it THAT negative? Certainly didn't seem that way.

I must say, anonymous nailed it. The real issue is that Jay threw out assumptions, like the one that everyone in Bistro was the "Harbor East" crowd. How does he know these aren't neighbors? Did he take a poll? Did Bistro Rx amazingly attract a very trendy crowd with no promotion and/or marketing? If so, they should drop the restaurant biz and go into promotion. They were somehow able to draw a trendy crowd to a neighborhood that doesn't have a local trendy crowd.

Jay's opinion doesn't even make logical sense.

Not on top of things lately Maza? Top 50 is all posted and no post about it so you can get all the "Lauging Pint #1? Are your stupid?!?!" Comments.

Tried it last night. Will reserve my review for a 2nd visit after talking to the owner about my thoughts. I will say that Wayne was more then open to suggestion and critique and I definitely hope the restaurant succeeds because it sucks having to go south of the park to sit down for some food and drink.

Wayne's a great guy but Bistro RX needs work. Mostly just the food... my friend got a burger the first time I went and ordered it medium rare. It came out well done.

On the second visit, I ordered my burger medium. It came out well done. I sent it back and they brought me another. It came out well done.

Cooking a burger is not rocket science, so I'm guessing there will need to be some turnover in the kitchen staff...

Could we all just get along and talk about the killer wine list, tap selection and salmon!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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