1106 N Charles St
Baltimore, MD 21201
This place was recommended by an associate from Maryland, and it sounded more my style than a crab-cake-tourist-joint, so I figured it would be a good way to walk off my pit beef indulgence and get to see the city. The Brewer's Art is a brewery/restaurant/lounge that is outside the Inner Harbor corporate zone and certainly worth seeking out. Everything from the service to the decor to the varied areas for indulgence were interesting, and to be quite honest, inspired a tinge of jealousy. It's like a cross between Nodding Head, Sugar Mom's and any one (or two) Steven Starr's places – except the beer is actually quite good, the downstairs is not dirty and the ambiance is genuine.
The basement boasts an old brick labyrinth, with little light, and much decor, not to mention a variety of souls from hipsters to grownups to some guy who I think was in the middle of a jog (don't ask). Beers were a ridiculous $3.50 at happy hour prices, which just happened to run 4-7. That's right, a brewery that sells their beer for affordable happy hour prices. Insanity!
Upstairs, the ambiance is a bit more refined, but they still keep the amazing happy hour prices, and the laid-back atmosphere. I was getting more and more jealous by the minute. How could it get any worse? Well maybe the fact that they offered three of the most delicious and comforting bar foods I have come across in recent memory would add some fuel to that jealousy fire.
Keep in mind that the room in which these pictures were shot was incredibly dark; it was a loungey couch-filled room off to the side of the upstairs bar. For starters, there was no way I was leaving without sampling the roasted Berkshire Pork Belly. Of course, it had to be served on a sweet potato biscuit with strawberry-basil salsa, pistachio butter and white balsamic. The pork was among my favorites thus sampled in my hog-filled years, crispy and rich with a smack of salt.
The biscuit was also a winner as the subtle sweetness further enhanced the decadent belly. I could have forgone the salsa and been no worse for wear. Not that it wasn't good, but this meat was the star, as it should have been.
I am going to go out on a limb and re-name the grilled portbella wrap the "vegetarian gyro of every sad plant-eater's dreams." Yes it may be long winded, but this sandwich was worth it. I would order this thing any day of the week, and not miss the meat. As long as it wasn't that roasted pork belly. Thinly sliced mushroom (much like shaved gyro meat) came tucked into a fresh pita nestled with crispy fried shallots, arugula and romesco sauce. Holy hell this was good.
The mushrooms were a perfect substitute for the often mushy mystery meat, adding full body and texture to a melting pot of happiness, wrapped in pita. What's more, it was served with a MOUNTAIN of rosemary garlic fries. These fries are what my poor gut dreams about when I am habitually dredging most offerings in some sort of masking agent to render them palatable.
As the grand finale, the epitome of comfort: skillet baked, herbed mac and cheese. Creamy, crispy and earthy, this was the nail in the coffin. On my walk towards the bus to catch a $6 Orioles game I wondered how much rent was in Baltimore, and how much I would have to pay to move the Phillies down.