baltimoresun.com

« Review: The Roots and Questlove at Rams Head Live, October 8 | Main | Pictures: Roger Waters' The Wall Live at Verizon Center, October 10 »

October 11, 2010

Review: Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx

The corner of Linwood and East Baltimore streets has had three different owners in the past five years. Bistro Rx seeks to find success were others flopped. 

First was Parkside Restaurant, which, when it opened in the mid aughts, was considered “ahead” of the neighborhood.

"Ahead" meaning nearby residents were not obvious patrons for $20-roasted duck and rosemary entrees.

But shortly after Parkside's opening, the housing market crashed, the economy tanked, and Upper Canton once again became Highlandtown. 

The restaurant closed, and the similarly spirited Three...[owner's ellipses] opened in its place shortly thereafter.  Three thrived for a time as an upscale restaurant/bar with picturesque outdoor seating near the leafy Northeast corner of Patterson Park.

But it too shuttered earlier this year.

On Thursday, Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx, officially replaced it. From the looks of things, though, little has changed at 2901 other than ownership.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  For what it is—an upscale wine bar with a hummus-and-flatbread-leaning menu—Bistro Rx makes a good first impression.  But will the mobile, distinctly non-Highlandtown crowd stay loyal to Bistro Rx when a trendy new joint opens in, say, Harbor East?

Mahaffey is banking that they will, and using a formula very familiar to 2901 E Baltimore. The only changes to its previous incarnation are a few new pendant lights and two new draft taps. The beer selection is largely international, with macrobrews available only in bottle.  A wine chiller sits at the corner of the bar near the only operating TV. 

Overall, the  atmosphere is sleek and modern.  So too are the 30-something horn-rimmed glasses-wearing clientele, who sipped cocktails and nibbled on pita while Norah Jones tunes played in the background.

Drinks were reasonably priced.  A tall liquor drink cost $6 and came in a pint glass.  It's hard to complain about a place that serves Jack Daniels as their house whiskey.  The bartenders were fast and friendly and the serving staff seemed amiable if a little stressed out over a few opening weekend kinks. 

Still, if only a few tears are shed on the first weekend of business, consider it a smooth opening. 

Also, the “test menu” available on Saturday did not try to do or cost too much.  The most expensive dish was a $25 filet with lobster sauce.  Chicken and salmon entrees were $16 and $17 a piece.  Rx serves wings, but they are served with gorgonzola dip, not blue cheese, mind you.

Mahaffey's figured out a formula that works for his eponymous beer bar in Canton, with weekday and happy hour specials that highlight the bar's extensive beer selection.  Here's to hoping he finds a way to make Bistro Rx stick, too.  

Once Rx settles on a more permanent menu, the trick will be to get customers to come back during the winter months when the shiny newness of the place has worn off, the outdoor seating has been folded up until Spring, and the see-and-be-seen crowd has new places to be at and be seen. 

- Jay Trucker.

Jay Trucker teaches at the Community College of Baltimore County. Occasionally, he wanders the Patterson Park neighborhood in search of chicken wings. He has contributed to Midnight Sun in the past.


Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:54 AM | | Comments (116)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Comments

Isn't there a rule, whether written or unwritten, that says you shouldnt review places that JUST opened?

Initial reaction, ok, but calling it a review?

Oh jeez... LinWOOD Ave.

Linwood corrected. This was my mistake, and not Jay's.

LinWOOD, not Linmore

There is no such thing as "Upper Canton." This restaurant is located in the Patterson Park neighborhood. Fix this!

Jay,

I don't recall anyone who lives near BistroRx as having referred to the area as "Upper Canton" (Also, it was never referred to Highlandtown- it was Baltimore-Linwood and then renamed Patterson Park in the mid-90s). The only people who use "Upper Canton" are less than ethical realtors- you know, the same ones that refer to the Monument Street corridor east of Hopkins as "North Patterson Park".

You obviously know nothing about this neighborhood; otherwise you would understand that the demise of the prior two restaurants was not due to them being too sophisticated for the neighborhood (which is what I took from your elitist "ahead of the neighborhood" comment), but because the previous two restaurants were both poorly managed. Now that we have a restaurant that is managed by someone who actually has experience in managing a bar/restaurant, I'm confident that this will be a success.

Oh dear, another Baltimore neighborhood argument. Yawn.

Rusty, I'm pretty familiar with the area and the restaurants that stood at 2901 E Baltimore previously. I state pretty clearly that Mahaffey can and hopefully will succeed with Rx. That was my point.

Cheers.

Jay, why do you assume that the previous restaurants were “ahead” of the neighborhood and not just poorly run?

There are a number of reasons that restaurants thrive or dive. By your reasoning, Obrycki's could be considered "ahead" of its surroundings. The same would probably be said for Salt as well.

I will assume that no real research was done on why the previous restaurants failed. Despite the initial jabs, I am sure this post was probably supposed to be a review of the current establishment and not a judgment on a particular neighborhood and its inhabitants.

I am looking forward to checking it out. I am enticed by the thought of swaying to Norah Jones as I eat some good food and drink some good beer.

I have high hopes for this restaurant as well from previous establishments! That corner in the Patterson Park neighborhood has 'come alive' again and it is wonderful for the community and neighbors!! Food is (though he is working out the menu and wants opinions) will be a "test" menu for 2 wks per Mahaffey - thus not finalized however the few tastings I've had have been delicious and I plan on def frequenting Bistro Rx quite a bit!!!

If I took a jab at anything with the "ahead of the neighborhood" comment I think it was directed at the retail cost of duck, not the residents near the restaurant.

Yes, the restaurant's previous proprietors failed financially for reasons that had nothing to do with the restaurant's theme and atmosphere. I did some research that indicates when a bartender gives away the bar, the bar will likely lose money. That's the theory, anyway.

My wife & I ate here last night and it was great. Wayne came by our table a few times to see how everything was - which was nice. The food menu had a good selection of sandwiches/salads/appetizers/entrees at reasonable prices while the wine menu was extensive. What surprised me though was the amount of GREAT beers available in bottle and on draft (6 taps). I'm glad that Wayne decided not to skimp on the beer selection for this "wine themed" restaurant. My Paulner Oktoberferst draft was 5$. Being a patterson park resident I hope that this place survives for many years as we'll be back often to eat & drink.

Jay,
While I agree that this restaurant is needed in the Patterson Park neighborhood I am not quite sure why you decided to make a comment about the Highlandtown residents.
Maybe if you ventured into Highlandtown you would realize that we are extremely similar to the residents of the Patterson Park Neighborhood. Just like Patterson Park we have our residents that enjoy a well cooked steak dinner with a pricey bottle of wine, and I believe this is evident by how Highlandtown's own "The Laughing Pint" is thriving.

Then when people try to point out that that area is neither Upper Canton or Highlandtown you get upset because it is "another Baltimore neighborhood argument". This is because in Baltimore we take our neighborhoods very seriously. Community Organizations work very hard to bring good things to their neighborhoods, and snide remarks such as yours about Highlandtown residents and calling the Patterson Park neighborhood Upper Canton do not help the hard working community groups have their neighborhoods known for everything good that they do. I think that the residents of the Patterson Park neighborhood would like to point out that this excellent new addition to Southeast Baltimore is in their neighborhood, and I think that you will be surprised to see exactly how many of us "lowly Highlandtown residents" will frequent this new bar in addition to our own neighborhood bar, The Laughing Pint.

I wish Wayne the best with his new restaurant. I just wish that you could get some facts right before posting an article that should highlight the Patterson Park neighborhood instead of ignoring them and dragging Highlandtown's name through the dirt.

Rusty, just because a half-arsed attempt at gentrification resulted in a few more houses being owned by yuppies doesn't mean that the corner of Linwood and Baltimore is the center of haute cuisine and high-cost living. Do YOU know anything about that neighborhood? Take a stroll north of Baltimore Street and tell me how many of the residents there are going to pay $30 for duck entrees. You may live there, and you may cling to the fantasy that you're "sophisticated", have a excellent palate for wine and an appreciation for the finest cuisine, but that doesn't mean that your neighbors are that way. Jay's point was dead-on. And yes, I DO know that neighborhood.

Jay, in response to your comments, you can't say that you aren't taking jabs at the neighborhoods.

"But will the mobile, distinctly non-Highlandtown crowd stay loyal to Bistro Rx when a trendy new joint opens in, say, Harbor East?"

Did you take a poll to know that the residents weren't from Highlandtown? Are you making stereotype assumptions?

I don't live in Highlandtown, but I know the demographics has changed there a lot.

The underhanded jabs are all through the piece.

I mean sure, being a Canton resident, I wouldn't step foot in highlandtown without a hazmat suit, but thats no excuse... I kid, I kid...


As a Highlandtown Resident I hope Im not turned away for lack of sophistication. Luckily its only a short a walk. The best of luck to Bistro Rx, I am looking forward to trying it out.

Ryan, that would be stupid to pay $30 for duck when it only costs $20 according to the review.

Also, Rusty was right to call Jay out on painting with a broad brush. No matter what you say, Ryan, unless you have census data to back it up, you have no idea what the neighborhood is like either. I can say I know plenty of relatively wealthy people in the hood. You can say you don't, blah blah. That doesn't prove anything. That is just my opinion vs yours. What does matter is that Mahaffey thinks there are enough people to support an upscale restaurant. He is the only one of us putting his money up on his belief.

Oh yeah, Ryan, this restaurant isn't north of baltimore street.

Yes, anonymous, I know that its not north of Baltimore street. But one would have to consider the area north of Baltimore street to be part of the "neighborhood" in which the restaurant is located. Afterall, as the article points out, the restaurant is on the corner of Linwood and Baltimore (yes, the south side of Baltimore street). I don't think its crazy to assume that people who live across the street might be considered to live in the same neighborhood. Good one, though.
I'm starting to wonder if "Anonymous" in all of its bold posts, is actually Mahaffey himself. For people who are so obsessed with backing up statements with empirical data, you all seem well versed in the inner-workings of Mahaffey's mind. Is that because you heard any of this from the horse's mouth, are you the "horse", or are you just making assumptions of what he might think simply because he opened up a restaurant there?

What I'm loving about the new blog format is that somehow it always manages to stoke Baltimoreans innate insecurity and inferiority complexes. Button your jackets fellas, the chip on your shoulders is showing - there's no slights here...real or imagined.

I thought the review was pretty good, I may check it out next time I'm in town. But how is it pronounced? Bistro Pharmacy???

While I do think the comments on this post have gotten waaaaay off topic, I am angered enough to continue with my own. I have to point out that had the neighborhood profiling statements not been made, we would perhaps be more focused on the actual intent of the article.

I for one, am thrilled to see another Mahaffey venture. I am NOT thrilled to see my neighborhood typecast as one that may be too 'whatever' to support such an establishment.

Good restauarants know how to grow and keep our trust, and make us regular fans. Loyal is loyal, no matter your address.

Ryan, I think a more distinct border to the north side of the Patterson Park area would be Fayette St, not Baltimore St. I live on Lakewood Ave, south of Fayette and I definitely am someone that would feel comfortable $30 for an entree. I'd be willing to bet that over half of my block would feel the same way.
I know the wife and I definitely plan on checking out Bistro Rx in the near future.

Stop splitting me!

So...I am a successful entrepreneur and homeowner in Highlandtown that ventures into the "real" Canton, south of Eastern, and into Patterson Park. I seem to blend in with the rest of civilization. Should I not try to get into Bistro RX? Is my kind not allowed or welcomed there? Should I take out my contacts and wear horn-rimmed glasses to get in? I would really like to be supportive of a new restaurant close to my neighborhood b/c I am all for paying good money for good food, but, I would watch the back handed comments, especially when the residents nearby will be the ones that frequent the restaurant the most.
Highlandtown may not be the most prestigious of neighborhoods, but the residents here work hard to make it a better place. I have been here for over 4 years, and the difference is amazing! I have the best neighbors in the world, people that go above and beyond, not only for each other, but to make the neighborhood better!
So, next time you are in Baltimore, visiting DiPasquales or the Eastern side of the park, that's Highlandtown and we are proud of it.

Ryan,

Yes, I do know the neighborhood. I even live north of Baltimore Street (Gasp!) I've lived there for five years and have no regrets. And my wife and I happily shelled out over $100 for dinner and five rounds of drinks at the grand opening of Bistro Rx last Thursday.

Also, half of the investors who bought the 2901 E Baltimore St property live north of Baltimore Street. So much for your theory about our neighborhood being one big ghetto.

Thanks for playing.

Rusty,
Congratulations, big spender! I'm sure the wife appreciated the show of money spent on account of date night. Now as long as you and your neighbors (who are apparently quite affluent) keep spending that kind of money on a weekly basis, the owner of this new place shouldn't have anything to worry about.
I have nothing against the area north of the park or the people that live there. Is it a fact that home prices are lower there? Yes. Is it a fact that the crime-tracker lights up like a Christmas tree up there (and gets worse the further north you go)? Yes. While that doesn't mean that you're poor or a criminal, it probably means that some of your neighbors are. But sure, maybe those people are the ones that will patronize this new restaurant and make it highly profitable.
"Thanks for playing"? Good one...tool.

What's getting lost in all of this pointless debate is that there is truly a restaurant involved. My wife and I have lived in Butcher's Hill for almost 4 years and have never been all that impressed by anywhere we've been since we moved from Mount Vernon. There we were spoiled with b being 3 blocks away in one direction and Brewer's Art a short cab ride away in the other.

Bistro Rx's menu last Friday had a good mix of choices depending on the mood you were in. We experimented with the wings and shared a salad topped with green apple, goat cheese and a bacon vinaigrette. After that, my wife went with the pulled pork sandwich while I went with the fillet. I can't speak to the sandwich, but I definitely enjoyed the mix of flavors with the fillet, crab meat and lobster sauce.

The Belgian draft I began with and the Westmalle Tripel I finished with definitely took the whole evening up a notch for me too.

I had never met Wayne before, but he stopped by our table once to see how we were doing and then again just to discuss Trappist beers. Couldn't have been any nicer.

Just a wonderful experience. We will be back often and it actually has me hoping for snow already just to have an excuse.

I actually found Jay's article to be cautiously optimistic about the restaurant itself, citing the "fast and friendly" bartenders, reasonable drink prices for the atmosphere, and his hope that Mahaffey "finds a way to make Bistro Rx stick, too." His only caveat was that this establishment may not be well-located because it markets itself to a neighborhood that is more firmly gentrified than the reality of North Patterson Park.

Yes, that's right. The fact is, despite Rusty moving into the neighborhood, we're not there yet.

The median household income in this neighborhood is still just $36,441 per year, and the average household has 2.51 residents. That distributes out as $14,518 per person annually. I bet Rusty and his wife gross a lot more than $14k each. So unless Bistro Rx accepts government vouchers, then clearly the AVERAGE neighborhood resident cannot afford to "happily shell out over $100 for dinner and five rounds of drinks." Would Bistro Rx have the makings of success in the right location? Sure. But based on the overall demographics, Bo Bo Chicken still has the right prescription for the neighborhood.

I actually found Jay's article to be cautiously optimistic about the restaurant itself, citing the "fast and friendly" bartenders, reasonable drink prices for the atmosphere, and his hope that Mahaffey "finds a way to make Bistro Rx stick, too." His only caveat was that this establishment may not be well-located because it markets itself to a neighborhood that is more firmly gentrified than the reality of North Patterson Park.

Yes, that's right. The fact is, despite Rusty moving into the neighborhood, we're not there yet.

The median household income in this neighborhood is still just $36,441 per year, and the average household has 2.51 residents. That distributes out as $14,518 per person annually. I bet Rusty and his wife gross a lot more than $14k each. So unless Bistro Rx accepts government vouchers, then clearly the AVERAGE neighborhood resident cannot afford to "happily shell out over $100 for dinner and five rounds of drinks." Would Bistro Rx have the makings of success in the right location? Sure. But based on the overall demographics, Bo Bo Chicken still has the right prescription for the neighborhood.

While you all are squabbling over your typical Baltimore neighborhood arguments, everone is ignoring the only truly important question.

As Sucio 410 inquired earlier, and I asked the first time this place came up on the blog months ago;

HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE THE DAMN NAME?!?!?!?!

It sounds like an interesting place and I most likely will be trying it out in the future...but I don't want to sound like an idiot when my friend asks we where we are going. It's bad enough I won't be able to give her a straight answer about what neighborhood it is in...I hope I can at least tell her the name of the place.

@TheBeav -- Good question. I'm going to call it Bistro Rex, like the dinosaur.

Amy, sweetheart, your not so subtle racism would make Lee Atwater blush.

Beav and Sam,

It's pronounced Bistro R-X.

Thanks for clearing up the name Rusty.

Amy, where did you get those numbers? I hope they were not based on zip codes because that would be woefully flawed. For example, I can't use the zipcode that extends from the edge of Fells Point to past Eastpoint mall to find the median income in canton.

But if you did have another source, that would be very interesting to look at.

Patterson Park? I just bought a bunch of units for $60,000 a pop. Nice neighborhood, Patterson Park.

You sound pretty miserable. Clearly you don't frequent these places often yet still felt that you had the right to pass judgment on not only a newly opened bistro but surrounding neighborhoods as well. As I tell the mentally ill children I work with, "...focus on one thing at a time. People may be more willing to listen rather than ridicule."

I was @ Three the day after uh 18? people got shot at a bbq a few blocks away. The neighborhood is very cosmipalitan

Wow, Tif, are you dense! Besides your atrocious spelling and reading comprehension skills (it was 18 people shot in FIVE different incidents across the city), the shooting that you referred to occurred in the 2600 block of Ashland Ave- which is one mile and two neighborhoods away. Why don't you go take a long walk on a short pier?

Tif, I used to think you were a little intellectually honest and not given into petty debates. From your last comment you seem like an ignorant child who can't spell.

Saying that shooting happened close to Three is just a straight lie. That is nowhere near the restaurant. According to Google Maps, it is 1 mile away. As anyone who has ever lived in any city, 1 mile is a very big distance.

Not to mention it is 1 mile north.

Rusty, sweetheart, your not so subtle sexism only furthers my case about your ego coloring your understanding of the facts.

And, Anonymous, I did include the source. That's why my name comes up in that pretty blue color to indicate a link. But you're right, I'd be "woefully flawed" to use the data from the two surrounding zip codes. I wouldn't want those rich Dundalk-border people bumping up the per capita income in the 21224 zip code.

Thankfully, with a little more research this morning, I found an even more detailed report to inform us. It's called the Patterson Park North & East Health Profile (2008), and what better source to inform us about the neighborhood surrounding a restaurant at the Northeast corner of Patterson Park.

Here we go.

When narrowing the demographic area to the borders of the Patterson Park alone, we find the median $36k income is in fact an overestimate. What's the median income for this specific neighborhood? $27,663. That's right, $9,000 less than when we extend the search area to the fully-surrounding community (who, if you remember, can't afford this place either based on the prior data, although they now appear rich by comparison). Unfortunately, this particular report doesn't indicate the average household size, but based on all other available data, 2.5 is consistently reported as the average. That distributes out to $11k per person. Additionally, 35% of working-age adults in this neighborhood are not in the labor force. It's all in the report.

To be fair, JHU did rely on some 2000 census data to complete their 2008 report. I can acknowledge that the incomplete gentrification of the past decade has had some impact, perhaps to the effect of the data from my prior post ($36k), which we all can acknowledge is still dismal. But if you're not happy with the way this report synthesizes data, please post your own competing research, and then call Johns Hopkins and tell them their research methods are flawed.

Do we all still really want to pretend the AVERAGE resident would be able patronize Bistro Rx? There's nothing wrong with the true neighborhood; what's wrong here is that you are degrading Jay's knowledge of the neighborhood when his information aligns with the facts. Take off your rose-colored glasses, read the report, and stop pretending you are the rule rather than the exception. And call me when you enroll your kids in the neighborhood public schools.

Rusty, calling someone a racist for presenting an argument that you disagree with but can't refute is a pretty lame tactic.
Do you have some vested interest in this restaurant? Are you an investor? Having pride in your neighborhood is one thing, but your unwaivering support for this place and its immediate surrounds is something else. There are obviously a number of shills on here. I doubt that all of these married guys just happened to stroll over to this new restaurant at the same time and all took detailed notes of the food they ordered. The owner just happened to meet all of them and they all, evidently, had the time of their lives. "Anonymous", how about being forthcoming about who you are and what your connection to this restaurant is. Wayne, uh, I mean "Rusty", how about you do the same.

Amy, your post was awesome! Nice use of sources to back-up your argument (something your detractors are incapable of doing). Its so refreshing to see someone on an internet comment-board use real sources and empirical data to support an argument.
Rusty will probably just resort to more ad hominen attacks or "i don't want to face reality, so I'll just insist that my position is correct despite my inability to actually prove it" approach.

Amy, I am glad that you took the time to post a thoughtful and informative response. Huge fan of that website too.

Unfortunately, all of the income data is from 2000 Census which is completely meaningless.

However, if we did try to take the data at face value, it still seems to be looking at zip code, again completely meaningless for a large city. One data point that shows that is the population size of the subset, 15,233. A number that high shows that it is a large subset.

As we all know, there are plenty of completely shady hoods in East Baltimore that would drag down any numbers, including a neighborhood as developed as Canton.

Thank you for pointing out what I already conceded--a caveat about the neighborhood changes since the last census. "Completely meaningless" it is not, or I doubt Hopkins would utilize it in their own 2008 report. Again, note my own concession and other data sources, and then please notify JHU about their research flaws.

And, no, the data here are not based on zip code. The data are based on the parameters of the recognized Patterson Park neighborhood. Since you are such a fan of the baltimorehealth.org site (and since you read the report, which explains this), you would know that their are 55 separate reports for the 55 separate recognized Baltimore neighborhoods (Highlandtown, Fells, and Canton all have their own separate reports, too, as does every other neighborhood in the city).

And thank you for pointing out that there are 15,000 people living in the Patterson Park neighborhood (note: there are almost 50,000 people in the whole zip code, but this report excludes the other 35,000 as you wished). That's my point. The few people on this message board don't represent the real 15,000 living in Patterson Park. Those of us posting here are the exception, not the rule. Unless you have evidence to the contrary, please stop speaking for the majority when you represent the minority.

And I thought I had it bad here in Federal Hill, I mean West Federal Hill, uhm South Baltimore or is it SoBo, Riverside, Locust Point or McHenry Point..

Good luck to Bistro Rx wherever you are!!!

If you build it, they will come.

@Amy: I live in the Northeast sector of the Patterson Park neighborhood. I'm pretty sure I know every business within the neighborhood boundaries, but I've never heard of 'Bo Bo Chicken.' Can you let me know the address? Because if it's just a made-up, stereotypical fried chicken joint, then your comment is indeed quite racist. Please advise.

I do apologize, when I was at Three that's all the "residents" spoke of- the shooting in "the neighborhood" last night. As far as the numbers what was it 13? Sorry that's much better than 18. As far as the spelling I do not apologize-it's a message board- and btw I do get piad per word for a living :-P

If you do not live in the area and do not know it well enough to see how great it is just to bring people together - I'm sorry and hope that changes!! I hope you'll take the time to come up and check out a great fabulous diverse area of one of the closest knit neighborhoods I've ever lived (and I have lived in all major cities up the east coast).

People can either hate on stats and "what is north of oooo scary baltimore street" (where I live btw) - or just come out and change the perceptions and the neighborhood by actually doing (rather than just griping). Bistro Rx is 'doing' - not just 'talking'.

Thank you to Mahaffey for opening a great Bistro which I plan on being at regularly - delicious food and drink and I'm excited to see what the finalized menu will be - and look forward to seeing/,eeting old and new faces there!!

Shill--and by shill, I mean "Anonymous"--what makes you think that we don't (a) know the neighborhood or (b) actually live in the neighborhood! I am a stone's throw from there, I'm a property owner, and my opinion of that immediate area is based on my experience with that area.
Just because you desperately want it to be different doesn't make it so. Look at median incomes, look at crime statistics, and look at home prices. While the neighborhood might be diverse and the some of the inhabitants charming, that doesn't change the facts regarding the entire neighborhood.
Can you just admit that you are either part of the neighborhood association there or an investor in this restaurant?

Wow, Anna, you claim to know every business within the neighborhood boundaries? Clearly you do not. Bo Bo is a real business that sells affordable meals. It is located on Ellwood Avenue, within the CSA boundaries recognized by the city as comprising the Patterson Park community (see map linked through my name if you are unclear of what CSA recognizes as the boundaries for the community). Sorry that to you my knowledge of the neighborhood demographics and businesses makes me "racist" rather than "informed."

In your effort to know every business in the area, please let me know how your first patronage at Bo Bo goes.

@Amy: actually a CSA is a CLUSTER of neighborhoods organized around Census tract boundaries. In some cases, CSA boundaries may cross neighborhood boundaries.

The Patterson Park neighborhood corresponds to the 'Baltimore-Linwood' neighborhood on your CSA map (boundaries are Fayette to the north, Pratt to the south, Milton to the West, Clinton to the East). I am highly familiar with every block in this neighborhood having walked every single one of them countless times over the years I have lived here.

The business you refer to is located within the Ellwood Park neighborhood. (see link for boundaries). And oh. its called Bo Bo KITCHEN. (not chicken)

Anna, you've proven nothing other than you have a knack for knit-picking. Bo Bo's exists--that's the point. Hence, Amy, despite your ridiculous claim, is not a racist. Does anyone care if its kitchen as opposed to chicken. Was that ever the point?

That comment was just for others (again in a positive light) to let them know that there are great things happening in the area. thus, if you live there - it wasn't directed to you and sorry if you took it that way - no need to get angry. there are many people who live in the neighborhood that are part of the neighborhood association - not sure how that really correlates - and trust me I wish I had enough money to invest in anything.

All I was saying was that this is a positive change - take it for what it is - and let it propagate some good in a developing neighborhood - we are by no means "perfect" but no city neighborhood ever is. Not a bad thing to go in the right direction - and to try and look at this with a glass half full rather than empty.

Amy, are you referring to this Bobo? If so, you should know that 1) it's located on the north side of Pulaski Highway (which is Ellwood Park, and further north than the neighborhood's boundary at Fayette), and 2) it is not a fried chicken joint, but a Chinese food carryout. Or maybe you're just making a half-arsed attempt at covering for yourself after Anna and I called you out on your blatant racism.

Are you sure that it's not South Parkville?

Thank you Anna.

Amy, no one gives a crap about offical boundaries and 10 year old census data. The point was that the area surrounding Bistro Rx is a lot nicer than the author let on. Furthermore, any claims for or against that argument are just subjective and should be left off reviews of restaurants. The data doesn't exist to prove for or against. Of course we have the data for large sections of the city, but not for the surrounding blocks that make up Patterson Place or Patterson Park, etc.

There are great things happening in the neighborhood, and I hope that area continues to develop. I also hope that small business owners do well in the neighborhood. That was never the issue. This all started because of the attacks on the writer of the review (remember, this is all related to a restaurant review) who made the mistake of making an accurate statement about the area. Yes, the people who live there want to defend their neighborhood's good name. That's understandable. And yes, the business owner wants to defend his choice of that location. Again, that's understandable. But as much as we may all want that neighborhood to thrive and the restaurant to succeed, it doesn't change that that area still isn't where anyone may want it to be. Incomes are what they are--that can't be disputed. Crime is what it is, and, again, that can't be disputed. We all want to change, but that doesn't justify calling people who disagree racist, or calling the author of the article a snob, or confusing optimism and hope with reality.

Who cares? You all live in a bad neighborhood and made some questionable real estate investments. Enjoy the ambiance of the blue lights down there.

The carry out you are referring to is BO BO Kitchen.

Is this incident close enough:
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-08-25/news/bs-md-ci-14-year-old-charged-20100824_1_gang-initiation-girl-shot-night-with-first-degree-murder

Maybe they thought the blue lights were the opening of a new K-Mart

Are we in Remington now?! I can't keep track.

I firmly apologize (to BoBo) that I misnamed BoBo Kitchen as BoBo Chicken. I also chastise all of you for the racist spin YOU put on the carry-out establishment. I wrote "Chicken" instead of "Kitchen," but I never called it a "fried-chicken joint." I called it "affordable." And it is. Shame on you for inferring stereotypes. I stand by my belief that affordable carry-out is the right recipe for the neighborhood. All of my sources have emphasized the financial, so please do the same.

@Anna and Anoynmous: Who cares about official boundaries? The city does. The neighbors and investors at Bistro should, too, because it's centrally located in those official borders (more on that in a minute). Perhaps you should call the city and ask them to gerrymander the community borders to represent what you wish they were, rather than what they actually are.

So yes, Anna and Rusty, I know what CSA borders are. That's why I shared them with you. So that you could look at the map and see what the community borders are, not what you'd like them to be. So that you would realize that Patterson Park community comprises more than Baltimore-Linwood. And so you could see that Bistro Rx falls DEAD CENTER between the north and south boundaries of what the city delineates as the Patterson Park community.

Therefore, even if you don't like the true boundaries of the community, you can't deny that Bistro Rx is centrally located within these terrible "official" borders, and if it wants to thrive, it needs to fit with the financial demographics of the neighborhood.

Seriously, look at the map.

It's a shame you all who happily live "north of the park" suddenly don't want to be associated with the official boundaries north of the park. But who am I to judge? I'mthe racist.

Oh, and that last post was from me. Forgot to put my name when posting.

Hey, guys, I forgot to mention that when you make all your calls to the city to complain about neighborhood borders, don't forget to file a complaint about the name of the "Patterson Park" branch of the Enoch Pratt Library. It sinfully borders Pulaski, which Rusty and Anna say is not allowed.

Amy,

How is an outsider like you so familiar with Bobo Kitchen's affordability? By the way, I know of an Amy who lives outside the city and owns several Section 8 rentals in that corridor with her husband. Perhaps that's you? It's all starting to make sense now as to why you're trolling here.

i went there yesterday and was impressed. definitely will stop by for a more thorough taste test.

of wait...this isn't the place for actual comments on the restaurant?

nevermind...carry on..

Christ do other cities' residents do this??

Anonymous, what do you mean outsider? I live in the neighborhood. But thanks for continuing the accusations and assumptions, rather than focusing on empirical data.

@Evan - Yes they do, my son. Because Adam and Eve gave into temptation, all man is flawed, territorial like the animals in the jungle.

I think what we should really be discussing is how the Midnight Sun neighborhood apparently just lost its collective mind on this post.

William Golding would be proud.

I've tried to be Piggy in this conversation, but the neighborhood association reps keep trying to steal my glasses...

Amy, Anna, you owe each other a drink at Rx.
Tonight.
Quityerbitchin and do the rest of the blog a solid.
FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! STOP IT!

I've tried to be Piggy in this conversation, but the neighborhood association reps keep trying to steal my glasses...

---

I'd be less worried about your glasses and more worried about your head at this point.

The only thing that's owed is kudos to Jay for writing a piece that electrified this blog with comments and traffic.

Dave--What concern should I have about my head? Should I be concerned that I know how to use facts and implore everyone else to do so, too, although to avail on their part? My concern is with the delusion and lack of information that drives others to attack the credibility of this review.

Yup, and that worked out great for Piggy too.

Amy, you haven't implored any facts or won anyone over. You provided 10 year old census data for boundaries that no one cares about.

The reviewer was dumb to paint with a broad brush. The blocks immediately surrounding Bistro Rx have a number of young professionals. They also have a number of middle class and below. However, there is nothing I can do to "prove" it. There is nothing you can do to "prove" otherwise.

Anyone that lives there or walks the streets knows what it is about.

This restaurant sounds good. I was sad to see Three go so quickly, seems like a good location that really needs some support to get going.

Hey Nikc, You think they have The Raven there?

Sigh. I do live on and walk these streets that are home to 15,000 other people with a dismal median income. I have implored others to use data (do you know the meaning of the word "implored"?) and no one has. I'm sorry that "no one cares" about the first data from 2009 or the second data from Johns Hopkins (except the people who acknowledge its reality, I guess?), and I'm sorry that you can't summon competing evidence to support your view.

I'm also sorry that the past two similarly-themed restaurants in this location failed. I'll be sorry if this one does, too. But I'm mostly sorry for blinders people like you wear, and for the way you deny our neighbors and ignore the remaining financial plight of this community just because a nice restaurant changed hands for the third time.

Enjoy your duck and goat cheese. Make sure you tell all your Patterson neighbors outside of the "blocks immediately surrounding Bisto Rx" that their demographic information doesn't count and you don't want or need their patronage anyway. They'll appreciate your loyalty.

Evan usually its the losers in pigtown arguing over the next restaurant that will be closed by the time you get through reading half the comments.

Wow. Just wow.

Is there a gas leak in this blog?

Nikc, its not a good location. That's the whole f***ing point! The shills on here would like to pretend otherwise, but they have yet to point to a single quantifiable fact to support their claims.
Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. How many restaurants need to fail in this location before a few of the morons who keep commenting on this site see it. The real estate tycoons who bought low in this area (and who, considering the market, would sell even lower now if they tried to sell--which is always an indicator of a savy investor/businessman) want to believe the neighborhood is better than it is.

Quick, someone make a Chris Sligh joke!

I grew up on that first block of N. Linwood as did my mom before me. Always said we lived in Highlandown. North Canton or Upper Canton was just a way for real estate agents to try to sell a dream.

I'm glad they're keeping the with the history of the place as it's the old Block's Pharmacy. Old fashioned soda fountain drinks would have been a nice touch. I'll have to check the place out.

I think if Salt can run a successful business on the other side of the park, I find no reason why Bistro Rx couldn't do the same.

I agree with Cardwell.

I did the Iggy!

Hey, is there anything going on in here? Are you kids behaving yourselves? Good Luck Wayne!
New Guy, don't review a restaurant right away. Everybody knows this.

Thank you, Alvy, for explaining that the area on Linwood has long been referred to as Highlandtown. Yes, the term Upper Canton was a real estate agent's dream, and one that a few members of the neighborhood appear to be trying to will into existence. Upper Canton does not and has never truly existed. That was why it went "poof," precisely as I explained in the article. Travelling north from the waterfront Canton runs roughly from Boston St to Eastern and is followed by Highlandtown. Everyone knows this. Everyone but the residents of this small area near the park who wish to exclude themselves from the neighborhood, it seems.

Here wsy my point, if anyone cares by now. Bistro, which is located right on the corner of the park itself, could make a brisk business if it put in a few TVs for football, sold $7 pitchers a few games like darts or pool, and hooked up with Mike Cray's BSSC. Thousands of rec leaguers visit this neighborhood every month to play kickball, softball, and flag football. They will not walk into Bistro sweaty wearing a crab t-shirt. Instead, they take their business elsewhere. This is a shame because rec leaguers are very loyal bar patrons.

The investors in this establishment do not want to create a beer and wings-type establishment, despite the fact that it has a built in audience. This is probably because a less expensive restaurant will also cater more effectively to the entire surrounding neighborhood rather than the residents at the highest end of the neighborhood's modest income bracket. Open a place that is affordable to all and all will come. And these investors don't want the customers who frequent the businesses on Baltimore St between Linwood and Highland Ave to come to "their" place.

Bistro is much more isolated than Salt geographically. There are no restaurants of its type on the park, and there are none even close to the north end. There's a reason for this. Economically, it is much more expensive than the neighborhood in which it is housed.


As I said in the article, good luck to Wayne. The place is nice and for what it is it will probably be well run, and I hope it will succeed in his capable hands. I do not wish for him to fail. But I think it's a shame that investors of this restaurant are intent on running the same type of restaurant that just failed twice in the last five years. It is now clear from reading the neighborhood association comments that this is because they wanted to exclude the rest of the neighborhood, not because their neighborhood, however they care to define it, is being underestimated. Why else do they keep trying to redraw the borders of their increasingly small "neighborhood" and run from any mention of Highlantown, which is, as Alvy said, the long-standing term for the neighborhood on N Linwood?

Open a business that caters to the affluent, mobile crowd and they will come, then leave. Open a business that caters to the neighborhood and they will come and stay. It's too bad such a small segment of this neighborhood wants to have this bar to itself and is using it's relative wealth to keep the rest of the neighborhood away.

Thank you for explaining exactly why you don't own a restaurant. Worst idea, ever.

1. There is not a lot of activity around Salt
2. The more fickle of the bunch is the lame BSSC crowd who only pays $1 for a bottle of miller light and just go to the newest spot. Your opinion vs. mine, no big deal.
3. Do you think you make a lot of money off of $1 miller lights as scores of people trash your place.
4. If you build a classic establishment you will succeed and be packed. Not much different then Birches or Annabel Lee. Both of which have enormous waits on weekends.

Okay, okay, I think it's time for me to chime in. Wayne Mahaffey here. No, none of the above bloggers are me. That's not my style. And no, none of the bloggers are investors. The "investors" referred to is actually singular. Me. Because I believe in the location and the concept. Rusty, anonymous, and others: Thanks for the nice words. I'm glad you are proud to be living where you are. Good for you. You are the people who want to make your neighborhood a better place. Good for you. I'm thankful to the people who have tried out Bistro Rx and have enjoyed it. I hope you can for a long time to come. Rusty - thanks for pointing out the pronunciation. The "formula" spoken of is simple: A good product at a good price and being nice to people. That's it. I think that would work almost anywhere, but I had a special feeling about this location because I live in Patterson Park and i saw a hole that needed filling. Comparing me to the last 2 incarnations I think is unfair. Tuesday night, when a patron got his portabello sandwich, he said that half that food would be the same price as the last place. Our prices are in the ballpark of Canton square bars which, ironically, DO cater to the BSSC. I do not exclude anybody that acts appropriately. And I think 2 TVs is the perfect amount (forgive me for having satellite problems on day 1). A lot of TVs showing games all the time may be your vision, Jay, but it's not mine. And Jay, my contractor is mad at you. To say that nothing is different about the interior except for a beer tower and lighting means apparently you weren't paying attention. Can I send you a copy of my contractor's invoice? 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. That's my concept and I'm sticking to it.

Thank you Wayne! I am excited to try it out. While Jay was probably trying to knock the place, I am looking forward to a place with minimal TV's, good music (Norah Jones), good food, and good drinks.

It is definitely a successful formula. While dive bars come and go, Yellow Dog, Red Star, Birches, Johnny Rads, and Anabel Lee offer me a great time, every time. I hope I can add Bistro RX to my "go-to" list.

Jay,

I saw three tables worth of BSSC people at the restaurant last night. So much for your comment, "They will not walk into Bistro sweaty wearing a crab t-shirt."

You should be writing on the Examiner blog- where they allow any idiot with a modem to publish BS without any doing actual research.

Your contractor ripped you off, Wayne. No argument about food and drinks, but that place looks nearly identical to the last incarnation. And decor? What decor? The brick wall? Brick is nice, but it was there before and it's the only thing remotely contributing to ambiance.

Here's to hoping bigger portions and lower prices will prevail, because appearance-wise this place is Three... all over again.

P.S. by "investors" I don't think anyone meant the restaurateur. I think they were referring to the group of six or eight--it's been published as both--neighbors who call themselves Red Hen LLC. The ones who tried to take advantage of the financial collapse of the non-profit Patterson Park Community Development Corp., which filed for bankruptcy under the load of a $790,000 mortgage there. The ones who initially were rejected for their insulting $298,000 bid for a building once appraised for $1 million (but the neighborhood's not hurting, right?). The ones who between have zero experience owning or managing a commercial property. They can pretend they're being noble, but they're just being exclusionary by trying to keep an elitist establishment running despite consistent past failures in this financially unstable greater neighborhood. Good luck, Wayne, but get off your high horses, "investors."

The ones who initially were rejected for their insulting $298,000 bid

Who outbid your even more insulting offer of $295,000? Get off your high horse, Tom!

And still got rejected? You.

Can't we all just get along, contractors are expensive, even if it is just renovation a place. So what, they got the place for 300k, good for them. Can't we be happy for each other and wish the new place a lot of luck.

Eric and Jay, you guys are clearly hacks.

You know very little of what you speak.

In reality, if you actually know the people that are there at the restaurant with you, you would know that they are neighbors, not d-bags living in Harbor lEast, proudly supporting a fantastic neighborhood story and partnership.

I hope Strawberry assaults you two for the 17 dollars in cash and the Armitron watches you guys proudly carry into the trendy Harbor East Bars.

Wags! that's fantastic!

Everyone else has posted, so what the hey.

DECOR: new wall colors, new light fixtures, custom-built backbar added, window bench built-in added, custom-built wine shelving added, extensive chalkboards removed, front tables substantially rearranged, bar footrest fixed where I previously broke it, rear banquet reupholstered (by my wife and I), exterior awnings removed, drink ledge and purse hooks added, under-bar beer fridge new, backbar refrigerated wine storage new, prolly lots of other stuff I'm unaware of.

PRIOR PROPRIETORS: Parkside ownership lived in county and had no prior restaurant management experience. Argued with clients who voiced reasonable complaints. There was a burger, albeit on foccacia, but service, inconsistency and poor quality doomed the place.

Three... brought experience, great people and service, and good -- sometimes great -- food, until near the end. Manageable rent on building space but heavy burden servicing interior build-out and kitchen space debt being charged by Parkside owner, who had a financial interest in Three...

Wine list was much better than Parkside, but they were pretty hardcore about avoiding simple burgers and the like. Might well have prospered with more up-front hard-money investment to decrease the monthly payment burden. Three is missed and I'm glad to see its good folks having landed on their feet.

NEIGHBORHOOD: I don't know if it's keeping up with places like Blue Moon these days, but if Morning Edition could survive and thrive as one of the first serious brunch joints at Patt Park Ave and Fayette in the mid-freakin'-90s through to today, perhaps all is not lost.

PP Ave from Balt to Fayette over to Ellwood and down to Pratt is roughly six thousand people. Upwards of 60% of unit block rowhomes are rehabbed -- i.e. likely homes to folks who can afford -- gasp -- entrees in the teens. We love it here and we love Highlandtown too and we're collectively kinda surly about Canton. Laughing Pint brings the artgrunge and cheap eats. Bistro Rx brings something different and equally exciting. We've got both and no drunken 22-year-olds puking on our stoops.

SCHOOLS: Gosh, I know lots of $100k+ income households happily sending their kids to public schools here. Same thing where I work now doing community development on the Harford corridor.

TO RED HEN: you rock, but you know that already. Last I checked, you were fully leased out and -- I strongly suspect -- profitable. Live long and prosper. Savor the haters; they come with the territory.

TO PPCDC: We should really do a reunion happy hour at Bistro Rx pretty darn soon. JD, I'm sure we can get Wayne to scare up some Maker's.

TO WAYNE: Keep up the good work and keep those >10% ABV beers a-flowing.

Everyone else has posted, so what the hey.

DECOR: new wall colors, new light fixtures, custom-built backbar added, window bench built-in added, custom-built wine shelving added, extensive chalkboards removed, front tables substantially rearranged, bar footrest fixed where I previously broke it, rear banquet reupholstered (by my wife and I), exterior awnings removed, drink ledge and purse hooks added, under-bar beer fridge new, backbar refrigerated wine storage new, prolly lots of other stuff I'm unaware of.

PRIOR PROPRIETORS: Parkside ownership lived in county and had no prior restaurant management experience. Argued with clients who voiced reasonable complaints. There was a burger, albeit on foccacia, but service, inconsistency and poor quality doomed the place.

Three... brought experience, great people and service, and good -- sometimes great -- food, until near the end. Manageable rent on building space but heavy burden servicing interior build-out and kitchen space debt being charged by Parkside owner, who had a financial interest in Three...

Wine list was much better than Parkside, but they were pretty hardcore about avoiding simple burgers and the like. Might well have prospered with more up-front hard-money investment to decrease the monthly payment burden. Three is missed and I'm glad to see its good folks having landed on their feet.

NEIGHBORHOOD: I don't know if it's keeping up with places like Blue Moon these days, but if Morning Edition could survive and thrive as one of the first serious brunch joints at Patt Park Ave and Fayette in the mid-freakin'-90s through to today, perhaps all is not lost.

PP Ave from Balt to Fayette over to Ellwood and down to Pratt is roughly six thousand people. Upwards of 60% of unit block rowhomes are rehabbed -- i.e. likely homes to folks who can afford -- gasp -- entrees in the teens. We love it here and we love Highlandtown too and we're collectively kinda surly about Canton. Laughing Pint brings the artgrunge and cheap eats. Bistro Rx brings something different and equally exciting. We've got both and no drunken 22-year-olds puking on our stoops.

SCHOOLS: Gosh, I know lots of $100k+ income households happily sending their kids to public schools here. Same thing where I work now doing community development on the Harford corridor.

TO RED HEN: you rock, but you know that already. Last I checked, you were fully leased out and -- I strongly suspect -- profitable. Live long and prosper. Savor the haters; they come with the territory.

TO PPCDC: We should really do a reunion happy hour at Bistro Rx pretty darn soon. JD, I'm sure we can get Wayne to scare up some Maker's.

TO WAYNE: Keep up the good work and keep those >10% ABV beers a-flowing.

Sorry for the double post. The browser kinda choked on the validation thingie.

I remember this blog reviewing Big Poppa's in the same hood. It was over on N. Streeper street. If that place is still going I don't see how Bistro RX could fail.

Rube,

Are you seriously trying to compare Big Poppa's (formerly known as Horsefeathers- a degenerate bar) to Bistro RX? Let me outline the reasons why Big Poppa's failed:

1) They made no attempt to improve the interior. It had a nasty, lingering urine-like smell that probably existed during its days as Horsefeathers.

2) They charged $9 for a glass of house wine.

3) The bartender was a suspected drug dealer and used the TV's to show pornos.

@ Anonymous,

Did I compare Big Poppa's with Bistro RX? NO. I will repeat. Is Big Poppa's still OPEN? If it can survive, then so can BISTRO RX.

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/midnight_sun/blog/2009/07/big_poppas_replaces_horsefeath.html

Your anger isn't welcome. Go rub one out, come back and have a beer.

P.S. - I've never been in either place.

Sorry, Rube, I thought it was your attempt at sarcasm.

Wow. Even though we got off on the wrong foot Anon, you answered my question regarding Big Poppa's. Hey Maza, there's a follow up for you. Also, what ever happened the Jason Zink's plans for a pigtown bar? Inquiring alcoholics want to know.

I worked at Big Poppa's for two days. There is something very off about that place. Is it still open?

@Rube- just waiting for my lawsuit to get over with and hopefully I will survive it. Mediation is November 23rd and trial date will be in April.

I still have hopes for it. I still believe in Pigtown alot. I looked at an empty space on Washington Blvd. about two months ago and it is still there. Just wish me luck with my lawsuit and I will be over there.

Well Maza, Josh and Jason Z both scooped you.
@ jason - As Theron said to the Queen Gorgo in 300, "This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this."
But you will survive :) Good Luck

@Rube-so true and thanks!!!!

but in the meantime No Idea now has 12 rotating drafts and over 40 bottles of beer, so stop on by and have beer.

Big Poppas is closed FYI. I chalk it up to poor management (see Anon's 3 reasons above). BistroRx has give me and other neighbors a much better experience and I believe it will make it.

I'm know I'm going to hate myself for getting in the middle of this but, what the Hell?
I'm a neighbor of Bistro Rx. When asked where I live, I generally answer Patterson Park. Not because of any particular allegiance to any particular neighborhood association but simply because when I look out my window, I see Patterson Park.
It's a pretty diverse area. Are my neighbors Yuppie douchebags? Some of them. Are my neighbors crackheads and whores? Some of them. But I think most of us are just pretty regular people.
All bars are not for all people. Anyone looking for a $7 pitcher of beer in this town will have no trouble finding one. The same goes for cheap eats.
Myself, I'm looking for a nice "grown-up" bar where, at the end of the day, I can relax with a glass of wine, have some delicious food and hang out with some like-minded people.
I didn't know Wayne Mahaffey until opening night at Bistro Rx but he's been really nice to me and I welcome him to Patterson Park. He's got a terrific staff and I wish them the best.

Rusty, Ryan, and Amy--

I also live in the area surrounding Patterson. My house is on N. Decker Ave, truly where I would call the hood. However, it is not so much a matter of criminals (at least on my street) it is the number of unemployed people and children that decrease the average household income in my area. I can say that at any time between 3pm and 10pm there are at least 20 children playing in the street (in their school uniforms) supervised by parents. Why are their parents home when other adults should be working? Who knows...but there seems to be a great effort to make the neighborhood nicer, safer, and cleaner. My house, as well as probably 1/3 of the homes north of Patterson but south of Fayette from Decker to Patterson Park Ave are rehabbed homes inhabited by 1-2 people. The rest are older and not renovated and lived in either by huge families or older people. The Bistro has a challenge ahead of it because it needs to provide a menu that is affordable for the average Baltimorean to enjoy on a 2 or 3x/week basis. And honestly, it doesn't matter how much your salary is (whether it be 34k or 204k), in my mind there are few people who would not mind spending a high amount on a regular basis on eating out. The restaurant must retain the neighborhood clientele and become a "regular" spot for patrons. They must not kid themselves into thinking that people will drive in from outlying areas to eat there and they also must continue to adjust the menu based on the customer feedback and selling stats. I have eaten there a couple of times. The pumpkin ravioli was fantastic, as was the crem brulee. The chicken was horrendous and dry and dull, as was the burger, and the flatbread prosciutto was fantastic. The crab mac and cheese was also great, but only if you appreciate a slight flavor of curry, which I do. The wine and beer menu is nice, though not very wide. I felt that the price was static across the board and there were no descriptions of the labels offered on the menu. When I inquired to the few servers around about a recommendation for a beer, they were dumbfounded and unknowledgable.

I continue to go there due to the ease of access and the clientele (my dogwalking acquaintances). Also, I enjoy that there is a small place so close that has an atmosphere that is both intimate and almost chic without being over the top.

I don't know what you would like to call the area north of the park, I have always referred to it as Canton but I have only been in Baltimore for 1.5 years. It is certainly not Highlandtown, nor is it "the ghetto." It is a neighborhood with great potential that only continues to increase in value and popularity.

**As a side note, I felt that the review was decent, not negative or overly positive in any way (which is a good thing), and I believe the generalization used about the horn-rimmed glasses clientele may be a bit incorrect and assuming, but not entirely off base. At any given time, I am sure there are at least one or to people there bespectacled, as there are also a few hipsters, yuppies, old folks, sports fans, and those coming by just after work. it is a healthy mix.

Rusty, Ryan, and Amy--

I also live in the area surrounding Patterson. My house is on N. Decker Ave, truly where I would call the hood. However, it is not so much a matter of criminals (at least on my street) it is the number of unemployed people and children that decrease the average household income in my area. I can say that at any time between 3pm and 10pm there are at least 20 children playing in the street (in their school uniforms) supervised by parents. Why are their parents home when other adults should be working? Who knows...but there seems to be a great effort to make the neighborhood nicer, safer, and cleaner. My house, as well as probably 1/3 of the homes north of Patterson but south of Fayette from Decker to Patterson Park Ave are rehabbed homes inhabited by 1-2 people. The rest are older and not renovated and lived in either by huge families or older people. The Bistro has a challenge ahead of it because it needs to provide a menu that is affordable for the average Baltimorean to enjoy on a 2 or 3x/week basis. And honestly, it doesn't matter how much your salary is (whether it be 34k or 204k), in my mind there are few people who would not mind spending a high amount on a regular basis on eating out. The restaurant must retain the neighborhood clientele and become a "regular" spot for patrons. They must not kid themselves into thinking that people will drive in from outlying areas to eat there and they also must continue to adjust the menu based on the customer feedback and selling stats. I have eaten there a couple of times. The pumpkin ravioli was fantastic, as was the crem brulee. The chicken was horrendous and dry and dull, as was the burger, and the flatbread prosciutto was fantastic. The crab mac and cheese was also great, but only if you appreciate a slight flavor of curry, which I do. The wine and beer menu is nice, though not very wide. I felt that the price was static across the board and there were no descriptions of the labels offered on the menu. When I inquired to the few servers around about a recommendation for a beer, they were dumbfounded and unknowledgable.

I continue to go there due to the ease of access and the clientele (my dogwalking acquaintances). Also, I enjoy that there is a small place so close that has an atmosphere that is both intimate and almost chic without being over the top.

I don't know what you would like to call the area north of the park, I have always referred to it as Canton but I have only been in Baltimore for 1.5 years. It is certainly not Highlandtown, nor is it "the ghetto." It is a neighborhood with great potential that only continues to increase in value and popularity.

**As a side note, I felt that the review was decent, not negative or overly positive in any way (which is a good thing), and I believe the generalization used about the horn-rimmed glasses clientele may be a bit incorrect and assuming, but not entirely off base. At any given time, I am sure there are at least one or to people there bespectacled, as there are also a few hipsters, yuppies, old folks, sports fans, and those coming by just after work. it is a healthy mix.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "p" in the field below:
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 erik.maza@baltsun.com. 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.
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with baltimoresun.com's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected