I didn’t expect to find a good and wine gem in a Maryland town mid-week but Iron Bridge Wine Company off a rural road in Columbia Maryland didn’t disappoint. I’ll be honest….our expectations weren’t high — after all, we just left Baltimore and Philadelphia and had exquisite meals at Michael Mina’s Wit & Wisdom and Lacroix in Philly’s Rittenhouse Hotel, both five star experiences. While fresh oysters on a menu can sometimes blind me to a not so stellar dish selection at times, I also tend to be soft when the wine menu exceeds not just expectations, but the staff’s knowledge is so good that your evening is transformed.
Iron Bridge Wine Company was that kind of experience for us, in of all places Columbia Maryland, which I hadn’t heard of before this trip. Columbia is only about an hour’s drive from Baltimore and surrounded by beautiful nature and farms.
Iron Bridge is known for their steaks and of course, their wine. Before we dive into the scrumptious choices, take a look at their soft, romantic and yet bistro-like ambiance. On one side (below), most of the tables filled up the main part of the restaurant, while to its right was a bustling bar with fun ambiance, but not loud enough where your dinner experience was impaired.
They have something they refer to as “Steak Night” which is a two course dinner, where you can choose from a potato bisque with candied pecans and chives or a salad, followed by a Cast-Iron Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf (YUM!!) or one of their steaks (pan-seared flank or a grilled bistro steak). While we didn’t partake in the special, it’s a great deal and I’d imagine popular with locals.
I’m a sucker for tuna tartare and carpaccio so the beef carpaccio it had to be — they serve it with a truffle aioli, crispy capers, roasted garlic croutons and Grana Padano and of course, the presentation was beautiful.
And I can happy as a clam on a simple salad alone, so knowing that we were going with steak that night, we went for the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Arugula, cucumber, red onion, goat cheese (my favorite) and shaved radish. Simple but light, which I always recommend if you’re going for a heartier main, whether it be a red meat dish or a pasta.
As for steaks, there’s plenty to choose from, but we went for the Signature Steak which was a 12 ounce New York Strip and the grilled beef shoulder tenderloin with bone marrow mushroom Duxwelle, potato puree, honey glazed carrots and a truffled veal jus. You can also get interesting sides, such as shrimp added to the dish, foie gras and black garlic, compound butter and of course veggies, like their crispy brussels sprouts which were to die-for.
If you want to go a lighter route, not only did they have a kale salad and a scallop Ceviche on the appetizer menu but you could get a lightly pan-roasted Rainbow Trout which is also gluten free. They had gluten free options and a couple of veggie only options for the meat averse.
You might be wondering with so much red meat in our order, what we paired our delicious entrees with? The wine knowledge of the staff and management was not only top notch but they try to get creative, pulling out unique selections that would best match your palette. For example, I told him I loved old world Bordeaux but was also a fan of deep, rich and bold new world Cabs from Napa and Sonoma like Duckhorn, Silverado and Opus. Well, who doesn’t love an Opus?
As you walk from the bar to the dining room, you pass plenty of options, as if you’re in an upscale liquor and wine store and had all the time in the world — or wished you had. You simply choose a bottle from the shelf and take a chance or you can listen to their recommendations. Their styles were so unusual here that you’re less likely to find the classic new world options from Napa across the oversized printed wine menu although note that they don’t print all their choices — that’s what the meandering by the wall is for — such fun!
And so, we decided to get a little bold and went with a flight of Virginia wines from RDV Vineyards (our biggest disappointment), and two which completely surprised the palette — a 2012 Chateau Mirefleurs Bordeaux Superieur and a drum roll please…..a 2013 Bodega Bouza Tannat Reserva from Montevideo Uruguay. I’ll be honest, I had never tried a wine from Uruguay before despite how many vineyards I’ve been to across every continent that produces grapes. The Uruguay Tannat had so much texture and layers that you couldn’t help but want to pair it with a variety of things all night long. And so…..we did!
Of course, they had other “Knock Your Socks Off” big reds, including Malbec from France, Syrah from Washington State, Cabernet Franc from Oakville, and an unusual Tanda Garnacha Calatayud from Spain. All of was simply a blast — the service was phenomenal, the wine a surprise and the food out of this world.
While I was leaning away from carbs for our entire East Coast trip, Anthony couldn’t help but indulge in dessert, especially when hearing it was homemade and well, with our wine selection, we simply had to explore.
I did however indulge in a cheese plate which was a must do once I heard that they had my favorite Pecorino Italy on the menu. While the cheese plate is a great option to share for the table, so is the house made charcuterie, which comes with duck pastrami, house pate, chicken liver mousse, shallots, pickled vegetables, pickled egg and grainy mustard!
If you read us often enough, you know we’re fans of sustainable cooking and living, and particularly like it when chefs try to work with as many local farms as possible, keeping things regional, fresh and organic of course. Iron Bridge partners with a bunch of local farms, including Clark’s Farm and Valley Haven Farm, both in Ellicott City, Rebecca’s Garden in Columbia and Grow & Learn in Glenwood Maryland.
Ahhh yes, we would definitely return. Two thumbs up! (note: that would be me on the left uploading a photo to Instagram in real time)
Iron Bridge Wine Company
Columbia, MD 21044