Although we regularly go to the bar at Brewer's Art for dinner, we had only had one previous meal in the back room; there, while my husband raved about his rack of lamb, I had a forgettable dish. With some trepidation, I took my family there for a celebratory dinner on Saturday night. It was truly excellent. I had substantially underrated the backroom, which was a substantial improvement upon the quite good meal I'd had at Henninger's the previous night.
I now believe that it should be placed over Henninger's and Peter's Inn as a place we should recommend to visitors looking for an excellent meal (but less expensive than Charleston's) at a distinctively Baltimorean spot. Indeed, although I'm a Soigne devotee, because of Brewer's Art's special charm, I'm now going to strongly consider taking visitors there instead, especially of the meat-and-beer loving variety. Though I believe Soigne probably performs at a higher level on average, Brewer's Art proved remarkably satisfying, especially for a hearty winter meal, and I never would have imagined putting them in the same category before.
So: to start, husband and I had a nice pumpkin/apple soup with ricotta dumplings, mom had an anchovy-laden caesar salad, and sister had the Resurrection Ale braised four-hour pork, which she adored -- though she'd asked for a steak knife, she didn't need a butter knife. Entrees: two orders of steak frites, an "Ozzy Ale Brined Chicken" -- which was exceptionally flavorful and crispy, with an excellent cornbread/chestnut stuffing and a tarragon jus -- and two lamb stews, which were praised the most lavishly. For dessert, a subtle mascarpone cheesecake, which I preferred to the chocolate mousse/blood orange curd special.
With seven Resurrection Ales, the bill came to -- I believe -- $240 for five of us, which makes it competitive with Henninger's.
A few final notes:
1. Vegetarians -- and perhaps even vegans -- should note the presence of multiple options.
2. Chef Ravi Narayanan was prowling the joint; he spent a great deal of time chatting with us.