The new B&O American Brasserie restaurant, which just opened July 30, is nowhere near the B&O Railroad Museum, which might confuse some. In fact, the restaurant is fittingly located in the original B&O Headquarters at the intersection of Charles and Baltimore streets, smack dab in the middle of downtown. Last night, I attended a beverage preview at this new restaurant, adjacent to Hotel Monaco, where I got to sample some of the restaurant's most delicious cocktails, wine, and beers.
The decor at the new restaurant paid homage to the famous railroad with centerpieces reminiscent of oil lanterns, elongated details on the ceiling a la train cars, and oversized, wooden seats and bar stools. But the design also included modern, elegant touches (like a grandiose chandelier) that made the space swanky without feeling stuffy.
I was excited to preview some of the cocktails and wines of the new place and was going in with high expectations. Former Ixia beverage director Brendan Dorr is now working behind the bar at B&O, so I anticipated some innovative, exciting cocktails. And I was right. One of my favorites was the tart nectar margarita, made with tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice. I'm a big fan of ginger, so I enjoyed the chamomile cup, a play on the British classic Pimm's Cup, with added vodka and ginger beer, for a spicy and citrus-filled cocktail. Always creative, Dorr gave the classic manhattan a twist by adding maple syrup, giving the drink just a hint of sweetness without masking its traditional flavors.
The wine list was equally impressive, and some local standouts were my favorites. A glass of the Vidal Blanc from Boordy Vineyards was a sweet, Riesling-like white that would pair well with seafood. While the Chrysalis “Sarah’s Patio” Norton from a winery in Virginia was a thick and fruity red, very close to Sangria.
The wine is reasonably priced with glasses as low as $5. Cocktails are a little on the pricey side (many around $12), but they make up for it with their happy hour. Monday through Friday, from 4-7 p.m., B&O serves $3 Clipper City Loose Cannon drafts, $3 wine selections, and $5 cocktails (which rotate daily). Not bad for a place whose style rivals some of the most elegant restaurants in Baltimore.
But that's the thing about the new B&O American Brasserie—it's versatile. You could come here in jeans during happy hour with some friends or you could come dressed to the nines and enjoy a romantic evening dining upstairs. And in today's restaurant landscape, I think it's smart to be as inclusive as possible.
[Image: courtesy of flickr.com/photos/jeffq]