Baltimore, MD — In the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood The Brewer’s Art has been winning awards from ‘Bawlmarians’ and critics alike for over three decades.
And for many good reasons.
The restaurant and bar resides in a 1901 row house built for prominent businessman W.G. Bowdoin. The Mt. Vernon inspired structure still exhibits the architectural detailing, craftsman ship and exquisite marbles and woods originally commissioned for this fine “in town” residence.
Downstairs is a cool, darkened rathskeller bar and wine cellar that Esquire Magazine rated as number two in their “Ten Best Bars in America.”
The establishment also won the Restaurant Association of Maryland 2010 award for “Favorite Bar and Tavern.”
It’s is a hip environment that attracts all ages, from college student to local residents, artists and designers, they are there for the quality, versus the quantity, of the beer they consume.
It is an adult friendly place with a youthful pulse.
The Brewer’s Art’s beer is regionally well known and widely available. Their brew menu includes a collection of house-brewed beers, Belgium Ales, Iambics, Trappist and Abbey Ales. You will also find local microbrews like Clipper City Pale Ale.
House beers include, but are surely not limited to, Zodiac – pale ale with lots of malt. Mt Hood Hops give this brew a nice earthy bite (5% abv/alcohol content). Ozzy, a rich red Belgian inspired brew is pleasantly dry and perfect for the upcoming hot summer days. Styrian Goldings hops, known as an aroma hop, lend this beer a pleasant herbal spice nose making it as enjoyable to smell as consume (7.25%abv) and Proletary Ale, a dark beer that is black in color, smooth and very easy to drink (5% abv).
Their most popular beer may be the Resurrection ale (7% abv), a malty, lightly carbonated brew that has a wonderful nose filled with fruit and spice is found served throughout the region both on tap and now bottled.
A neat bit of “giving-back” to their community, The Brewer’s Art is donating proceeds from bottle sales to local charities such as Bat Conservation International, Baltimore Reads, the Herring Run and the Jones Falls Watershed Associations and more.
A bit stronger brew the flavor of Resurrection Ale, whose name comes from the brewer, Chris Cashell resurrecting the yeast after it dies during the brewing process, is pronounced without being overwhelming. A satisfying accompaniment for crisp salads and salty snacks.
Upstairs guests find a comfortable bar and lounge area illuminated by the bright light from the large front window during the day and where the bustle of North Charles Street is visible a.m. and p.m.
Our journey brought us to The Brewer’s Art for the beer and Chef Dave Newman’s cuisine. The menu is seasonally changing and filled with land and sea inspired plates as well as pasta and vegetarian dishes.
A tasting menu started with a duo of Chilled Asparagus Soup ($8) and Miso-White Tuna Tatako ($9). The chilled asparagus soup was appropriately rich and creamy with a lovely silken mouth feel however the dishes standout was the Scottish Salmon Tartare served on crisp bread.
The salmon is house smoked allowing for the flavor to stay fresh, untainted from shipping. The salmon tartare is finely chopped, perfectly seasoned and with the most enjoyable salt supporting the tartare.
The Miso-White Tuna Tataki was an explosion of tastes, textures and aromas. Thin, delicate slices of seared raw tuna were served with a shiso-radish salad. Shiso is a perennial herb from the mint family has a crisp mint flavor that works alongside slender strips of fresh, crisp radish.
To the side are cubes of Yuzu-Soy Gelée, a gelatin made with Yuzu, an Asian citrus fruit that adds a touch of sweet with a spicy mayo under garnish providing a robust base for this well-balanced dish.
Chef Newman creates an imaginative and interesting salad selection. The Strawberries and FireFly Chévre ($8), or goat cheese, introduces cheese from FireFly Farm, regionally located on Maryland’s Allegheny Plateau in Bittinger, Maryland.
The FireFly Farms’ artisanal cheeses are aged to perfection resulting in an incredible creaminess of texture and taste that comes from the product being carefully managed from birth of the kid, or young goat, to the final aging process.
The result is a cheese that is routinely moist, creamy and easily spreadable.
The FireFly Chévre are being featured on Chef’s menus, at frommage counters in grocery stores and wine bars. The have been participants in numerous international gustatory events, often taking top honors.
It’s a safe bet that a dish featuring FireFly Chévre holds a very special tasting surprise and Chef Newman’s pairing of the Firefly Chévre with sweet, seasonal strawberries, a sprinkle of pistachio and a light shower of the fresh tasting vanilla tarragon vinaigrette creates a salad worth remembering. But remember, it’s seasonal so get it while the strawberries are still plump and moist.
Our visit continued with dishes that highlighted their spring menu - Grilled Shrimp with Spring Pea and Mint Risotto ($26) that marries the richness of the large lightly grilled gulf shrimp and creamy risotto with the spring freshness of the peas and mint.
The House-made Artichoke Ravioli ($10) on the Starters menu celebrates the warmth and earthiness of the summer season with a tart Meyer Lemon Butter and Pistachio-Mint pesto. Meyer lemons, native to China but now grown stateside, are smaller varietals of citrus with thinner skin and milder taste that is coveted for the brief time during late winter and early spring that it can be found.
The fruit is said to be a cross between the mandarin orange and lemon, the Myer lemon has an intense perfume with hints of honey and herb, and which heightens any dish it may enhance.
Paired with the Artichoke Ravioli, Chef Newman places his Grilled Asparagus ($7) over a goat cheese “fondue” garnishing with candied walnuts and a bit of reduced balsamic vinegar. The young tender asparagus tops work well with the goat cheese and walnuts creating a very savory vegetable dish.
One of springs most favored offerings is rhubarb and Chef Newman serves it over a Resurrection-brined pork ($23) nestled on a creamy polenta. Sautéed escarole adds a bit of bitter to the dish that works well against the sweet rhubarb relish and rich brandy-shallot sauce.
In house pastry chef, Kathy Adams, keeps the finish to your meal sweet and satisfying with sumptuous desserts including an incredible Walnut and Almond Tart ($7) that has a caramel filling in an almond crust generously drizzled with chocolate.
Our server paired this tempting dessert with Three Philosopher’s Belgian style blend. This rich malt with fruit forward taste and strong malt backbone was perfect with the rich, almond and walnut desert.
We visited this property twice and found that the order and pace of service was most enjoyable, staff friendly and knowledgeable and the evening enjoyable.
The Brewer’s Art
1106 North Charles Street
Jacquie Kubin is a 15 year, award-winning veteran of travel and culinary writing. Today Jacquie edits and directs a staff of writers for Donne Tempo Magazine and is always looking for new talents who wish to expand their horizons. Email Jacquie with ideas, questions or to share your writing dreams. Follow Donne Tempo on Twitter and Facebook.
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