Charm City is continually upping its culinary game and local chefs are pulling out all of the stops. I recently tried new menu items at Rusty Scupper and B&O American Brasserie and attended a media preview of Gunther & Co. (opening 5/20!) and was impressed with what I saw/ate/drank.
B&O American Brasserie
Chef Mike Ransom is really one of my favorites. He’s such a nice guy and is constantly coming up with new ideas for dishes. His recent additions didn’t disappoint.
We started with a Wagyu carpaccio with apple pear, watercress, shaved yolk, kewpie mayo, horseradish, and harissa with house crackers. It’s shaved so thin and Mike explained how they shaved the yolk, as well. (I can’t describe it. You basically cure it and can then shave it.) We also loved the giant English peas and fresh herbs in the mixed greens salad.
To Steve’s delight, grilled calamari was added to the menu. We waxed philosophical with Mike about how much better calamari is when grilled rather than fried. Why hide the deliciousness with fried breading??
There were several new entrees, so it was tough to decide what to try, but I went with the market fish (rockfish) with warm potato salad, more English peas, and corn shoots. The corn shoots are fascinating; they’re from the top of corn and taste exactly like it but look nothing like corn. The potato salad wasn’t mayo based; it had a light lemon dressing.
Steve went big with the center-cut New York strip and didn’t regret it. He loved the duck fat potatoes, giant asparagus, and roasted maitake mushrooms.
Per usual, Brendan and his team behind the bar mixed up amazing cocktails for the season. (Listing them as Paris in the Springtime made me even more excited to go back to Paris in a month!) I started with the Purple Rain, which was actually created and named before Prince’s death. The lavender infusion was so light but packed a kick. Steve had Learning to Fly with Aviation gin and lemon, which was really light and fresh.
I was talking with Eric Fooy, who was heading the bar that night, and mentioned a drink, the Horsecar, that Brendan made about five years ago but was only on the menu a short time. Eric found the recipe and whipped up the blend of gin, thyme, blueberries, and simple syrup and, to my sheet delight, presented me with the drink I’d had dreams of for years.
Gunther & Co.
Gunther & Co. is the new concept from owner Nancy Mola of 8407 Kitchen Bar in Silver Spring. The awesome team at Collins + Wilson invited me and others in to check out the space, menu, and amazing drinks.
We started with champagne and oysters in the bar and were treated to head bartender, Shaun Stewart, whipping up amazing drinks. He used the new Sagamore Spirits whiskey to create a version of the Meet the Beet-alls, swapping the gin but keeping the Cynar, beet liquor, rhubarb bitters, and fired orange peel. I could drink this … a lot. It’s dangerously good. He also created a light, tropical-esque pineapple drink with Papa’s Pilar rum and reverse egg white … you just have to go to understand.
We sampled several menu items throughout the evening as we moved through the space, including my favorite, roast pork with mango chutney on a buttermilk biscuit. (I’m having a love affair with chutneys recently.) The roast duck was cooked perfectly and accented with citrus and olives, a unique combo. The shrimp and lemongrass potstickers were a surprise; I wasn’t anticipating Asian influence on the menu. The chocolate pave and buttermilk panna cotta with citrus for dessert made for a perfect ending as we checked out the view from the mezzanine.
I’m excited to get in to Gunther & Co. to try the full menu — especially brunch. The bar opens at 4pm followed by dinner service at 5pm on Friday, May 20, so prepare yourself to be there!
Rusty Scupper has been the go-to seafood restaurant at the Inner Harbor for decades and, with new executive chef William Wilt at the helm, are coming up with innovative new dishes.
Steve and I chatted with Ed, the GM, who is always so nice and welcoming. We had the chance to meet William, as well, and he was really excited to share his new dishes and spice up (no pun intended) the classic menu. Chef is changing up the menu each month; below are the May offerings.
Soft Shell Tempura – Tempura-fried jumbo soft shell with spicy cabbage slaw, Sriracha sauce and wasabi aioli
Corn Flake Crusted Whale Soft Shell – Whale-size soft shell crusted with a corn flake-fennel crust served over corn and crab risotto with grilled asparagus and sun-dried tomato basil beurre blanc
Crab Stuffed Soft Shell Saint Michael – Jumbo soft shell stuffed with lump crabmeat dredged in seasoned cornmeal and pan-fried, served over whipped potatoes with warm corn and tomato salad with red pepper coulis and lemon-caper aioli
Blue Point Oysters/large plump salty
Oyster Sampler with Blue Points/large plump salty