Most people who think of Baltimore think of crab cakes far before they think of any other food, even oysters despite the fact that it is surrounded by a harbor. That said, if there’s oysters on a menu, there’s little chance that I’m not ordering a dozen, or if there are plenty of other things I’d like to try, a minimum of three. While you can get them on the half shell at B&O Brasserie in the heart of Baltimore (standard I suppose), they serve them with smoked trout roe, campari mignonette shiso, which was surprisingly delicious. And this, my friends, was the start of our eloquent meal at a very casual but chic brasserie adjacent to the trendy Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton property where we stayed for a couple of nights during our late August stay.
I was in the mood for a classic salad which I did — they had a few yummy choices, including a strawberry salad with almonds and goat cheese, a heirloom salad with feta and pepitos and a classic baby romaine salad with watermelon radish and pickled red onions.
Of course, the octo tacos, which apparently they’re known for, were a true stand out. Think charred octopus with a chorizo verde, celery-herb salad (the crunchiness was just perfect), and it was tossed in a pumpkin seed vinaigrette in a jicama shell. Wow!
To keep things interesting, we ordered a buttery chardonnay and went with a fish of the day and a meat dish. If you end up at B&O, be sure to try the Lamb Chops with jus charred spring onion, the Braised pork Shoulder with gigante beans and rapini or the Basted Scallops with farro verde, sweet peas, pickled carrots tossed in a green garlic vinaigrette.
I definitely noticed some southern influence on the menu and in the preparation. Because we did NOT order a crab cake, executive chef Michael Ransom, who is certain that his unique preparation of crab cakes is such a standout, that he sent one up to our room after dinner. He hailed from the Chef Shawn McLain’s James Beard Award-winning seafood and vegetable-focused restaurant, the Green Zebra before coming to B&O Brasserie and he has also worked with such renowned chefs as Susan Goss (West Town Tavern), Christian Phernetton (Old Town Brasserie) and Chef Ravi Kapur (San Francisco’s four-star Prospect) before leading his own kitchens at Bar Adagio and Henry’s in Berkeley. Small world as we began to talk food and then of course, we ventured into tequila and other things before we ended up on a night on the town with him checking out local neighborhood bars and bistros.
Was his crab cakes outa this world? Let’s put it this way — we were completely full when we left the restaurant and I was keeping carbs at bay for the entire trip, but I did sample it and Anthony devoured it. Coming from an Italian’s palette who is becoming fussier by the day as he moves into the more serious foodie category, it’s a huge compliment. Two thumbs up! We love your cooking Michael and what a fabulous host you are!
2 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201