At a time when so many of Towson’s downtown buildings have been razed and replaced by hulking structures, it’s nice to discover a modest 1920s cottage-turned-restaurant. And you have to love the name, Bread and Circuses Bistro and Bar—a term from Roman times that means wooing the populace with food and entertainment. On weekends, Bread and Circuses does indeed offer live music, but its draw is an eclectic menu of sandwiches, appetizers, and entrees that is available throughout the week with brunch on Sundays. In a past life, the restaurant was a coffee shop called French Press until it started serving dinner three years ago, complete with beer, wine, and liquor.

The restaurant was quietly enjoyed by locals, but word has spread. The small dining rooms—a parlor filled with artsy knickknacks and a lower level with artwork for sale—fill quickly.

One evening, we started with a garlicky tomato bruschetta with goat cheese and a silky Nantucket bisque with corn and crab. Both were excellent starters.

The kitchen was kind enough to split the shrimp and scallop Provençal on two plates for us. There was more than enough to share, especially with the accompanying rice. Our chicken Mykonos was fragrant with spinach, feta, tomatoes, shallots, and a lemon-basil sauce.

A downside was an indifferent server, though that did not appear to be the norm. Our waiter spilled a good portion of wine as he aimed for our wine glass. He mopped it up a bit, leaving behind a stain and dribbles on the glass. Then, he walked away without even acknowledging the incident.

The cost of dessert ($7.95) also gave us pause until we realized most of the offerings were luscious creations from Pâtisserie Poupon, the French bakery with locations in Baltimore and D.C.

On a lunch visit, the salmon Rushdie caught our eye. It’s a double-decker sandwich with grilled salmon, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo—a delicious mouthful.

As new development spreads throughout the bustling Baltimore County seat, Bread and Circuses’s quaint bistro setting stands out for its individuality and down-to-earth food.


›› Bread and Circuses Bistro and Bar, 401 Delaware Ave., Towson, 410-337-5282. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday brunch. Appetizers: $6-12; sandwiches: $6-13; entrees, $12-28; desserts: $7.95.