Columbia's loss is Canton's gain. Before Langermann's settled in at the old Kiss Cafe space in the Can Company in December, the restaurant's chef/owner Neal Langermann and managing partner David McGill were scouting out possible locations in Howard County's planned community.
Then, they (fortuitously for us city dwellers) stumbled upon an available property in the gentrified Baltimore neighborhood. "It was the right place and right time for us to land," says Langermann, who is creating Southern-influenced cuisine in the eponymous restaurant's open kitchen. (The chef formerly worked at Georgia Brown's in D.C. among other places.)
Langermann's has an industrial warehouse chicness: the ceiling soars high, floors shine with wood, ductwork flashes silvery, walls are brick, details are red. A bar area is set off to one side.
We nestled into a white-clothed table, feeling Lilliputian in the cavernous, noisy dining room at first. Our pleasant server quickly gave us an overview of the menu before taking our drink orders. There is a respectable selection of wines by the glass, from $6.50-13. Since we are succumbing to the Merlot comeback, we enjoyed a fruity Chilean Montes, which suited the flavors to come magnificently.
The first of several calorie-laden offerings soon arrived—a bread basket with cheddar-cheese biscuits and honey-glazed cornbread with a dish of whipped butter, too! (Warning: Leave your diet at home.)
The fried catfish fingers gave us pause for a moment. The catfish was so creamy and moist that we thought the breaded chunks were oysters. Not so. It was just the freshest fish, cooked through, of course. Served with crisp coleslaw, this appetizer could be a mini meal. The fried-green tomatoes were fat slices given extra flair with a made-in-house, piquant chow-chow topping (chopped green-tomato relish) and a smooth lemon-butter sauce.
The courses were paced appropriately, giving us time to appreciate each dish's nuances before the next round began. We were quite impressed with the size of the pork chop, looking robust with mashed sweet potatoes and braised spinach. The chop was liberally doused with an addictive Calvados apple jus that boasted a lovely note of thyme.
The sea bass was no slouch either. The firm center-cut fillet was posed on a pool of puréed creamed corn surrounded by wild mushrooms and fingerling potato halves. The parts created a satisfying whole.
Desserts, too, have their own twist. Key Lime pudding cake is really just pudding, albeit a cool, citrusy one. The pale-yellow mix is a light finish with a few raspberries and a fresh mint garnish.
But we couldn't ignore the bourbon bread pudding—and we shouldn't have. It was the machismo counterpart to the delicate Key Lime presentation. Two beautiful, cake-like slices of slightly boozy bread cubes played off French vanilla ice cream in a wonderful way.
We went back for lunch not long after our dinner to see how the restaurant was faring in the daylight hours. (It's also open for breakfast.) Parking is more of an issue then, even though there is a parking lot surrounding the stores and restaurants. (In the evening, a nearby garage is open to the public for free after 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.)
The sunny restaurant seemed to be doing a decent noon trade with a mix of families and office workers. We've yet to see anyone sitting in the upstairs loft area of the restaurant, though.
There really aren't too many differences between the lunch and dinner menus—a few more entrees in the evening, more sandwiches during the day. You can still get the yummy fried-green tomatoes and catfish fingers if you'd like.
This time, we discovered another appetizer to root for: barbecue spareribs slathered with a maple-cranberry sauce. These are lip-smacking, bone-sucking morsels. We loved the presentation, too. The six meaty ribs were stacked like Lincoln Logs, just inviting you to play with the pile.
Alas, we also found the biggest disappointment of our visits—the crab cake sandwich. It's not a patty that would make a Marylander proud. Served on a sturdy potato roll with lettuce and tomato, it arrived as temperate as a spring day, though not nearly as pleasant.
The pale cake looked like it had barely touched a pan, and there was nary a jumbo lump (the crab size according to the menu) to be found. The overall effect was, sadly, bland and mushy.
Other sandwiches include a turkey pastrami Reuben, grilled ham and cheese, and a burger with aged white Cheddar. Two entree salads are offered: grilled salmon with roasted beets and goat cheese, and beef tenderloin with blue cheese and corn.
We had great success with one of the restaurant's signature dishes—shrimp and grits, a Southern mainstay, with five, fat, naked shellfish (no heads or tails) and spicy andouille sausage in a flavorful clam broth over creamy grits. Delicious.
Once again, the kitchen didn't hold back on dessert decadence. The warm square of bourbon pecan pie was rich with molasses and nuts and two scoops of praline ice cream on top.
The folks at Langermann's seem genuinely interested in your welfare at the restaurant. On both visits, a manager stopped by to inquire about our meals. And our service was friendly and helpful.
A waiter also told us that the chef spends a lot of time there, too, to ensure the quality of the food preparations. That type of hospitality goes right along with the sumptuous Southern fare. We're sure the kitchen will work on the crab cake.