Oh Bistro Rx, where do I start. They are cute and have an innovative menu – that can involve things like kangaroo. There is usually parking since they are not right on the square, but it is an easy walk from Canton or Fells. I’ve been for dinner a few times and find them a little over rated. Prices are a little high and the food and service is mediocre – generally most are satisfied, but is generally one person in my party who is a little disappointed.
Despite this, I took the advice of a friend of mine who feels the same way about dinner, but raves about their brunch. My opinion might be starting to change – food is spot on and affordable. They serve local coffees from High Grounds, on the other side of the park. They also do bottomless mimosas, bloody’s, and screwdrivers by the pitcher. We didn’t go that route; I was much more interested in the coffee.
My friends favorite and the most popular order at the table was the Katzenjammer Hash. They serve their crispy-outside, soft-inside potatoes in a skillet amongst a trio of pork products–scrapple, bacon, and sausage (it might be andouille)–which add a spicy kick to the whole dish. They must have a very special griddle back there and they have mastered crispy edges without overcooking anything. And if that isn’t enough they top that with two perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
The sausage and biscuits were also a hit – spicy sausage with a creamy gravy and their house made biscuits.
I went with my brunch staple – the Benedict A La Bistro. I liked these. The prosciutto was crispy and offered the perfect amount of saltiness for the creamy poached eggs and the hollandaise. Instead of smothering the potatoes, the eggs topped a buttery crusty muffin. I still got to try the potatoes; they were good, crunchy outsides and spiced with peppers and onions. I think the hollandaise could use a little more flavor and spice, but it was lemony and superbly creamy.
Best part is they are starting brunch on Saturday. A fellow blogger has been for dinner and likes it a little more than me.
* this post had a little help from friend Matt Baker.
For as much as I like all my friends at Wit and Wisdom, I couldn’t wait for the Four Seasons Food Truck: Taste to hit our area. We went for lunch on a cloudy Friday when the truck was outside the hotel. I was a little late meeting my friends; which meant they waited in the super long line to order and then another long wait for the food to be ready. I arrived just in time for them to call our number. And since my friend was order 100, so she got a free drink and picked a berry iced tea. This place was busy, and although I didn’t get food from Chef Zach Mills, we didn’t have much complaining about food from the Hotel Chef Oliver Beckert.
I went with this fantastic thinly shaved beef taco. Tender charred pit beef with sweet carmelized onions wrapped in a tortilla and topped with a horseradish sauce and cilantro. I love the freshness of cilantro and the horseradish added a perfect complement with the peppery spice.
We also split some of those old bay house made chips and a Kale Salad, which was actually my favorite dish of the day. Kale was slightly wilted in the citrusy sweet pesto vinaigrette; the oranges, corn, and feta created contrasting flavors and textures – winner. Maybe I do like Kale.
My friend went with this ginormous reuben burrito. Combining all the classic ingredients – corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and 1000 island dip – in a spinach wrap that was then pressed and grilled. She also got extra pickles – which were dill pickles. Look at the size of those things. I loved my first one. But, I didn’t taste any dill; I only tasted salt. So much salt, that I could barely eat a second one without going inside the hotel and get some water from the bar.
We had almost all the large plates. My friend got the crab burger with a mango mayo and a mango and fennel slaw. I could barely get two words out of her to describe it; very good, but that she couldn’t really taste the fennel.
Overall, great food truck – and I can’t wait for it to come back. I wish I had gotten a chance to hit the truck late night when Zach was cooking his pork tacos.
Every so often Harbor East has some fun events. I was lucky enough to spend the evening with my friends at Sip, Savor and Stroll. This event sold out quickly – so if it sounds fun, get your tickets fast next time – we all signed up at for the same “group” and were scheduled all together with a few other folks in Group 8. This was a very well-organized event, the check in line moved quickly and all the restaurants were ready for us even as we moved through to the end of the night.
Everyone started at Gordon Biersch, where they gave us a generous first drink. I went with their fall beer – FestBier – a Marzen with a malty flavored and balanced hops.
Our first official stop was Bin 604 – part of the Cindy Wolfe and Tom Foreman empire. They were serving food from Pazo and their two new house wines. Don’t let the bottles full you – they will look different in the restaurant. The food was clearly light snacks – a couple of meat trays (without their delish Manchego), an eggplant dip, and a third dip of what seemed like roasted red peppers. The meat went quickly, and there wasn’t nearly enough bread for the dips. I liked the white and loved the red wine. If you have any questions about wine, talk to the folks in this place. They will recommend a wine that is similar or even order you the one you want.
Our next stop was Lebanese Taverna. Thank goodness they over fed us – we were definitely needed some sustenance. Look at this food spread – and this wasn’t for the group to share. This was one plate for everyone and a full glass of wine or cocktail. I went with the Tilia Malbec from Mendoza. I really liked this wine. I know, shocker… It was very medium bodied wine with a hint of berry tones. The tannins were present, but edgy enough to cut the acidity in the wine. Now on to the food – each of those sections were fantastic. In the upper left was a little spinach pie and lamb meatball. We also had that adorable fresh salad with beets and orange. The best part of that was the pomegranate seeds – adding sweetness and a little crunch for that spicy arugula. I am actually shocked that my favorite was the lemony, cilantro shrimp and Israeli couscous. Those are not my favorite things – but they could be if I spend more time here. And I ate every pits of that humus with their warm, soft pita dippers.
Our next stop was a little bit of a hike – all the way to Bond Street Social. I want to like these guys. I don’t. Their food is fine and they have decent drink choices. The atmosphere is kind of upscale and fun vibe; they have a gorgeous location and plenty of outdoor seating. In theory, I should really like them. But, I am always underwhelmed. The food is really overpriced and that upscale vibe turns very quickly into a frat party on the weekends. This stop was no different – we had the duck confit arepas. Our other small plate was the lobster rangoon. They were fine since they were “free”, but I certainly wouldn’t spend $12 or $13 respectively for them. I just can’t figure out who these guys want to be.
You would think we would be done by now – but nope… two more stops. One of my favorite Harbor East stops – Talara. At first, I was disappointed were weren’t getting my favorite small plates. We started with their asian tartar sushi roll with tuna and a little wasabi mayo. usually do get those for happy hour. Then I tasted the ribs – sesame glazed baby back pork ribs. These were fall of the bone tender and might be making an appearance on our regular order. They also went amazingly with my very strong red sangria. I do love these guys – from the service to the food. Outrageous!
Thank goodness our last stop was just across the street at James Joyce. I don’t go here very often. I am not sure why – they had a great crowd on a Wednesday at 10pm. Our adorable bartender was nice enough to make me an Irish coffee. This is the only place in Charm City that I think can make a quality Irish coffee – which includes that fresh whipped cream and top it with a little brown sugar… YUM. I don’t remember what they fed us. Sorry guys – It must have been good because it was gone before I knew it existed.