#EncoreEatsBaltimore – Satisfying the Architect’s Appetite
Long hours slaving over the drawing board can make an architect peckish. Pull up a chair and join architect Ward Bucher as he explores Baltimore’s cuisine, characters and architecture one forkful at a time.
Chez Hugo – 206 East Redwood St.
Interested in authentic French cuisine with a twist? Chez Hugo, just three blocks off Baltimore’s Inner Harbor) fits the bill, literally! Located at 206 E. Redwood Street, it sits next door to the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. The restaurant is named after the restaurant owner and chef’s son, Hugo.
Pairing the two for a night out is truly a Baltimore cultural treat: history, theatre, french cuisine. What more could you want? Historically, the theatre is a visual treat operating out of a restored bank, the Romanesque Mercantile Trust & Deposit Company opened in 1886. The Chez Hugo bistro pulls its interior design cues from the same era, continuing the romance of an evening out with tiling, artwork and atmosphere reminiscent of a time when les artistes would gather post-theatre for lengthy conversations paired with sumptuous victuals. There are even seasonal absinthes to be had that give nod to the luxuriating cafe haunts of bygone evenings.
Featuring the inspired farm-to-table cuisine of native Frenchman Chef Steve Monnier, Chez Hugo is a casual bistro restaurant divided into a 60-seat dining room with a small private dining space, and a 24-seat bar. The dining space is highlighted by an open kitchen and wood-burning hearth with a sub-level baking kitchen, butcher room, and an aging room. Chef Steve Monnier offers contemporary, seasonal cuisine within a relaxed, casual dining space to share his passion for family, friends, and great food. On our lunch visit, we delighted in the company of veteran server, Cooper, aka Coop, and Quiche aux Legumes, Seasonal vegetables, Gruyère, and salade verte. And for dessert, the coup de grace, Creme Brulee. Check it out at www.chezhugobistro.com.
Rosina Gourmet – 301 Water Street
While searching for a new lunch experience in downtown Baltimore and rubbernecking at the beautiful old buildings I came across a mysterious sign on the corner of a block long classical-style building: rosina gourmet. No other information, just a small arrow at the bottom. About two-thirds of the way down Water Street I found the entrance surrounded by massive two-story Ionic style granite columns that reminded me of the Roman baths of Caracalla.
Thinking this was an expensive tablecloth restaurant I was hesitant to enter. A peek in the doors revealed not a maître d’ and low lighting but café tables and chairs and a lunch counter with a hand lettered blackboard. Rosina’s features salads, soups and sandwiches, all handmade to order. I had one of the daily salad specials, and it was delicious.
If you go to the rosina gourmet website, ignore the Lombard Street address for the downtown location because the entrance is really at 301 Water Street.
Peking House – 11 East Baltimore Street
One of the peculiarities of Baltimore is the lack of easily visible addresses at businesses. So, for me, finding Peking House was truly a treasure hunt. The architecture bonus of this meal was really two doors down and involved the discovery of the magnificent bronze Baltimore Street entrance of the 1928 Baltimore Trust Building. Believe it or not, a gym is right through those art deco doors!
Peking House is the perfect place when I’m busy and don’t have much time for lunch. I order a lunch special for carry-out by phone and it’s ready by the time I walk the three blocks from the Encore office. There is lots of seating at tables but most patrons are standing around the counter waiting for their order. This visit I had chicken with cashews and snow peas for $7 (including tax) with enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch. Visit it soon and don’t be shy about peeking in those big doors of the Trust.
Stone Tavern – 506 East 25th Street
Since our team was taking a lunch break from measuring a building, I looked for local eats on my cell phone. I imagined that the nearby Stone Tavern was an 18th century mansion with a Washington Slept Here sign. Actually the Stone Tavern is a busy, narrow diner with a row of booths and a counter with stools serving comfort food to a diverse neighborhood crowd. We had wonderful western omelets, and Ernie loved his side of bacon. Visit it soon!
Werner’s Diner – 231 East Redwood Street
Werner’s has a 1950 Art Moderne interior and a diner menu with lots of Greek dishes. Empty at 11:00 AM, there was a waiting line by noon. The diverse crowd was enjoying the Dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) with tzatziki (yoghurt with cucumber), fried sweet potatoes, or a huge cobb salad with feta cheese. There were lots of sandwiches and takeout, all at a reasonable price. There was free delivery as well but then I’d miss the friendly, chatty staff.
Originally, I shared that Werner’s had closed its doors, but I am happy to correct the record as we recently stopped by and had lunch! As of August 11, 2019 it was business as usual!
Saturday Morning Cafe – 111 Water Street
When the weather is bad or I’m extra hungry I walk a few steps from the office across the cobblestone Water Street to the Saturday Morning Cafe. It has a counter with red vinyl topped stools and an all-day breakfast only menu with a Southern flair. My favorite is the Breakfast Skillet with grits with three fixings, sausage, and two sunny side up eggs. I always end up with a box with leftovers. Check out Saturday Morning Cafe