Located in the old headquarters for the B&O railroad, the B&O Brasserie in downtown Baltimore aims to provide elegant upscale dining at a reasonable price. The restaurant itself is located in the same building as the Hotel Monaco, right near the Royal Farms Arena. As soon as you walk into the restaurant you feel the elegant train design that the Owners wanted to bring to the restaurant.
They tapped into their railroad past by making many of the booths feel like a small train car, it’s a nice touch that brings a level of privacy for the diner.
The staff at B&O Brasserie is very friendly and eager to please its customers. The way I would describe my dining experience would be if you were a parent and you saw your child really trying hard but they still fell flat on their face. That’s kind of what it felt like here. I appreciated the effort and the imagination put into some of their dishes, but the overall execution was lacking.
We started with a cheese plate which was elegantly done, the green apple and warm bread counterbalanced well with the array of cheeses they served. But let’s be real, any fine dining place can do a cheese plate.
From the appetizer we went to our main course which was a New York Strip steak and one of their house brick oven pizza.
First the steak. When one orders a center cut NY strip and you ask for it to be medium, you’re not expecting well done. You’re expecting medium. This was a huge buzzkill and sabotaged the whole dish, by poorly executing the simple task of cooking a steak the entire dish fell flat. The steak was topped with a flavorful chimmichurri sauce that added a nice kick of acidity to the steak. The smashed potatoes and asparagus were seasoned and prepared well, but the overcooked steak took away from what should’ve been a great dish.
Next the house brick oven pizza, this was filled with potential but again fell short of hitting the dish out of the park. The market pizza was essentially a white pizza with broccoli raab, mushrooms, and cheese. But rather than making the broccoli raab a mere component of the pizza, the raab was so prominently featured that it took over the entire dish. The strong bitterness of the raab masked any flavor from the cheese or the mushrooms. So what could’ve been a homerun, was again a big disappointment.
If I could choose a saving grace for the whole meal I would say it’s the dessert. But even that has its own issues.
We started with the carrot cake which was very impressive in the execution. I applaud the pastry chef for being daring enough to put a modern spin on a dessert classic. They created a carrot sponge cake with a cream cheese filling and they served it alongside a scoop of a ginger ice cream with pistachio crumbles. The carrot puree/syrup they created was a flavor packed addition to the dish that added a distinct carrot flavor to the cake. The dish itself was tasty and well executed, but it was not necessarily something I would seek out and come to this restaurant just to have.
The key lime tart was the star of the entire meal, the flavorful filling (how’s that for alliteration) had a subtle touch of lime in it that let you know it was there but didn’t overpower the dessert in its entirety. Meanwhile the crust was delicate and buttery providing the perfect vessel for the dessert.
All in all B&O Brasserie isn’t bad, it’s just not great. The daring menu and imaginative kitchen leads me to believe that my experience may have been the exception to the rule.
The bathroom however is exquisite. So there’s that.