You know the restaurant space on O’Donnell Square, sure you do! Formerly Razorbacks, Rick’s American and the last incarnation was Fins on the Square. The boys, because if you are under 30 to me you are still boys, Mel Carter and Brett Lockard of Blue Hill Tavern renown are partners in Tavern on the Square (TOTS). Top toque is Blue Hill Tavern’s former executive sous chef, Jeremy Thatcher, who isn’t afraid of showing his penchant for bold flavors.
The partners took over ownership of Fins on the Square in the early fall. Carter took the first week of 2012 to refurbish the space and change over to Tavern on the Square. An extended bar, black wood trim and seating combined with the “rosemary sprig” color paint for the walls create a subdued back drop to A. Audrey Bodine’s Baltimore photographs.
One week to refurbish a restaurant is an amazing feat. The night the husband and I dined, the restaurant had only been open five days as Tavern on the Square. TOTS was jamming at the bar and the restaurant soon started to fill. We were guests of Mel’s, he knows that I am a fan and really enjoy Blue Hill Tavern.
The food (check out the slide show)
The menu, well written, well thought out, had the husband and me yearning to try many of the dishes but I settled on the Bahn Mi Sliders. The rolls were as exciting as the brisket filling with pickled vegetable Kimchi – not quite traditional Bahn Mi but deeelicious all the same. I would certainly re-order on my next visit. You don’t have to trust me; the husband wants that again along with the Venison Chili with bacon, beans and vegetables which is available in a cup or a bowl. The husband fell in love with the Mac and Cheese with Applewood smoked bacon, smoked Gouda and some underlying heat from jalapenos.
In fact, we thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes we got to taste. I’m not a pot pie fan but the Pheasant Pot Pie arrived in its own ceramic fry pan with a dark flakey puff pastry, crispy yet tender, filled with roasted pheasant, onions, carrots, peas, mushroom, leeks and it own pheasant gravy. I kept eating it, couldn’t stop, which was a slight miracle considering all the dishes that Mel had us taste before.
Let me not forget Duck Confit Spring Rolls, which continues TOTS eye to game food which came with two generously filled spring rolls and an accompanied teriyaki ginger dipping sauce. Along with the appetizers, soups, salads, sliders, sandwiches, and entrees Tavern on the Square offers five grilled pizzas; Spicy Shrimp, Margherita, Duck Confit, Smoke Salmon and Guanciale and Venison Sausage with Smoke Mozzarella. Oh, the Guanciale and Venison Sausage grilled pizza was full of flavors that paired beautifully. We couldn’t finish it so it made for a delicious dinner the next evening with a salad. Again, Tavern on the Square’s salute to wild game makes an appearance.
It isn’t all about game
Mel Carter, who has hunted with his family for a number of years, understands the beauty of game and honoring it on his menu with the items mentioned above and other selections like Pheasant and Waffle, Bison Sliders, Wild Boar Burrito, Venison Sausage Grinder, Duck Confit Grilled Pizza, Wild Boar Chop, and Wild Boar Ragout.
The wild game selections are the not the usual suspects on a menu and so is the case at Tavern on the Square with numerous appetizers like Seared Ahi Tuna, Crab Dip, Jumbo Calamari, and Jumbo Chicken Wings. TOTS offers seven salads; Caesar, Greek, Tavern House, Chef Salad, Sesame Chicken, Caribbean Jerk andCornmeal Crusted Calamari. I’m not going to list the entire menu, trust me when I say that there is a large selection for all tastes.
Happy hour – Monday thru Friday – 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Damn good happy hour deal, ½ off all drinks as well as selected appetizers. It’s a great way to get a taste of the bold flavors of Tavern on the Green. There are also nightly specials.
As for televisions at the bar, sufficient to watch your favorite game and eat really well.
Tavern on the Square – 2903 O’Donnell Square – Baltimore, MD 21224 (410) 675-1880