Saturday, September 1, 2012

Of Love And Regret

1028 S Conkling St
Baltimore, MD 21224
410.327.0760
www.ofloveandregret.com
Of Love and Regret on Urbanspoon

When I was a much younger man, my friends and I used to frequent the Good Love Bar in Canton neighborhood of Baltimore.  This was early on in it's history before it suffered from a fire and before it became caught up in the bar/club/DJ scene.  The place had a nice, hip vibe with great drinks and lots of dark nooks and crannies to get lost in.  When I saw that a gastropub called Of Love and Regret had recently opened up in Canton, I thought it to be a nice little evolution from my younger days.  Besides, considering my life was full of both love and regret, how could you resist visiting a place like named after your own story.


A couple things worried me initially about the place.  Some of the reviews I read about it, liked the idea, the ecletic food and the atmosphere but thought it was to pricey for Baltimore.  This was a red flag since maybe Baltimore isn't ready or will never be ready for a place like this since one of the criteria may be that all anyone is looking for in Baltimore is a cheap place to get drunk.  I sure hope this isn't the case.  The second thing is that when you approach the bar and you never saw the sign, it would look like any nondescript Baltimore corner packaged goods bar.  It just doesn't draw your eye that it may be a place worth your while.

When you do enter, it's a whole new experience.  There's exposed brick, long wooden communal tables, a huge bar top, a long row of beer taps and eclectic decorations.  I want to say that the artwork looks Victorian but I don't really know what Victorian is supposed to look like so I'm just going to go with that it looks like what I picture Victorian artwork is supposed to look like.  That sentence was probably funnier in my head, but I digress.  Here's what I know, I was there for brunch so it was a little empty but I liked the vibe right away.  The service staff was helpful and easy-going.  They were knowledgeable, friendly, and I can definitely envision spending many long hours in this joint.

I only had time for brunch since I was going shopping with my niece for her birthday in Ellicott City afterwards.  I had heard a lot about the dinner menu with such interesting items like pig ears and korean pancakes and I hoped that the brunch menu offered some similar things.  When I first looked at the menu, it looked like standard brunch fare with some variation of eggs Benedict, some pancakes, a dish with big, heaping servings of breakfast food, etc...  I was a little disappointed and thought that maybe I should just get brunch, shelve the post and wait to find some time to go back for dinner.  Then the waiter kindly (as in kind enough not to treat me as dumbass) pointed out to me that there were more offerings on the flip side of the menu.  They had burgers, which all looked good, and a variety of sandwiches including french dip.

What?

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

Blog post was back on track.  You're probably thinking that you've eaten french dip in most diners and every dive bar alive, so that doesn't sound like interesting food.  However, if you've been reading this space for a while, I've been looking for a good french dip sandwich for some time.  Naturally, I ordered the french dip and I can't even remember the other offerings.  My meal was rounded out with two of their home brewed beers and a Brandy & Honey Poached Pear.

From my light research about the place, the whole basis of opening up the gastropub was to feature Stillwater Artisanal Beers which is a local brewery that has received critical acclaim in the area.  My two choices for beer were their 'As Follows' and their 'Stateside Saison'.  What I found best about the beers were the description from the server.  He led me through the different flavors I should be experiencing so that I could really watch out for them.  The 'As Follows' was on the drier side as beer goes with a definite 'hoppy' aftertaste.  The 'Stateside Saison' had more body, was richer/heavier, and gave me a more depth of flavor with a great smoothness.  Both were good.  Note to self:  must try the rest.

The french dip was chopped up ribeye with what tasted like cheddar and white cheddar melted on top along with caramelized onions.  All this was placed between two thick buttered slices of Texas toast.  It wasn't the classic, crusty roll that I'm used to but it was also served with steak fries which made up for it.  Oh, and let's not forget the au jus on the side which was just au jus which is exactly what it should be.  Yes, I think you can safely classify this as an elevated french dip with the choice of meat (which was nicely medium rare), the two types of cheese and the onion treatment.  However, it still had all the flavors of french dip that I had been craving for a long time.

For dessert, it was described to me that they had this peanut butter and jelly dessert with tahini butter, other things, and crack cocaine.  It sounded fantastic.  So fantastic that they ran out so I went with their Brandy & Honey Poached Pear.  This was a poached pear with some caramel & chocolate ice cream on top which was, in turn, topped with almond toffee.  Overall, I enjoyed the dessert and I think all the elements worked well together.  I just got a bit thrown off by a couple of things.  First, the caramel flavor was a bit overwhelming and tended to take over the whole dish on occasion.  Second, I found the poached pear consistency to be not of my liking.  I found myself wishing that they roasted it for just a bit (or roasted it a bit longer).  The toffee bits, however, were a good revelation the dish was well balanced on the times you got to eat all the ingredients at once.

I don't know if Baltimore is the ideal place for a gastropub in the vein of Of Love of Regret.  It brings a nice sophistication to food and drink that may prove to have a very limited audience in Charm City.  The atmosphere and just sheer hipness of the place also worry me that it may appeal only to a minority of people in the area.  And, let's not even talk about the prices being too high since they seemed fine to me.  I do know that the food is good, the beer is ever better and the atmosphere will keep me coming back.  I'm already trying to figure out when I can come back and try their more adventurous fare for dinner.  Please, also, don't take this as a knock on Baltimore (it's practically my second hometown), it's just I'd love to see more of these type of places thrive but you just never know when it comes to B'more.

3 comments:

  1. The ambiance of this place is one of a kind. It gives a certain feeling that makes you want to come back again and again to this place. Great food is also a factor.

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  2. French dip for the win! Mouth watering description of the food in the place is awesome, makes me wanna go there.

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  3. Perfect place if you want to have a memorable date with someone you like. That makes me think about finding someone who I can date with.

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