Courtney and I went to B&O Brasserie last night, taking the Circulator up (go Baltimore!) to be dropped pretty much at their front door. We had gone for lunch several months ago and been impressed, but the annoying (for us anyway) location was a major factor in not making it back until the Circulator made it simple and easy to get there and home without parking hassles.
While I was impressed on our lunch visit, last night we were blown away. This is very good, innovative food served in a cool contemporary setting. It's worth the trip, and we are anxious to return.
For appetizers we ordered the steak tartare, a two inch high cylinder which came on a bed of carpaccio. In my previous lunch review I had said that B&O did a magnificent job with this dish, and they do. But as good as it is, it paled in comparison to our second appetizer, the smoked pork belly. This is an amazing preparation-- rich and delicious. It now ranks among my favorite dishes anywhere.
For entrees, I had the crispy skin rockfish, and Courtney had the "surf and turf," -- serrano wrapped quail with a seared sea scallop. Both were excellent, but the highlight of the meal for both of us was the accompaniment to the rockfish -- an oxtail and avocado risotto. I joked that I was ordering a triple order of it to go, and honestly, I was tempted. It was outstanding.
We also foolishly got an order of duck fat fries on the side -- I say foolishly not because they were bad -- they were very good -- but because it was simply too much food. The only disappointment of the meal, and it's very minor, was the standard ketchup served with them. An aioli or an artisan ketchup would have been welcome. They didn't really need a sauce though -- they were hot, thin and crispy.
For dessert we had a cherry upside down cake that came with ice cream and caramel popcorn -- another very good dish.
The final verdict is that while I expected B&O to be reasonably good, I did not expect to be wowed like I was. This is very good food in an unlikely setting. Hotel restaurants are not generally known for being great. B&O is now on my list of favorite Baltimore restaurants, and while there may be some future menu exploration during those visits one thing is for sure. One of us will be ordering the risotto.
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