Pig face, bone marrow, parsnip soup, tuna belly, glazed Jerusalem artichokes….these are just a few of the small plates and tastes that you’ll find at the Tavern Room, the front-of-the-house casual dining side to Fleet Street Kitchen in Harbor East, Baltimore.
The neighborhood has no shortage of fine dining establishments so the creative minds at the Bagby Group decided to split the Fleet Street Kitchen space (that’s the sign you’ll see on the outside) into two separate dining experiences. If you’ve been in the bar area and adjacent dining room before the March 1st switch, the only change you’ll see is the absence of white linens from the tables.
The rustic decor is the same. No walls have been knocked down. The servers are just as helpful but you will find a different menu. But don’t look for typical pub grub here. The Tavern Room reaches beyond wings, fried comfort food and beer. The only fried dish you’ll find on the menu is the Pan Seared Fluke, and calling it fried may be stretching the definition slightly.
The casual menu is dotted with five “small plates”, six “tastes”, and six “large plates” in addition to a half dozen desserts. There’s an equal share of vegetarian and meat-fish small plates.
Besides the fresh baked artisanal bread, the Glazed Sunchokes (a Jerusalem artichoke), is one of the stars on the small plates menu. Forget what you think about artichokes – these taste nothing like the standard veggies you get from your local supermarket. Well paired with herb goat cheese, hazelnut butter, and fine herbs, the artichokes are hearty and worth being a meal on their own.
If you praise the pig and can appreciate all that it has to offer, you’ll enjoy the Pig Face and Pickles taste. This porkly plate offers the chef’s choice of jowl, snout chin, cheek, tongue, ears, and pork rind. For the less adventurous, the Ocean Trout Crudo is a colorful taste of trout belly, crème fraîche, blood orange, black radish, and puffed quinoa on a crostini.
The Tavern Room even takes a slight departure on how you’d normally wet your tongue at a pub. According to Marketing & Public Relations Director, Dave Seel, in beverage history punches were traditionally the tavern drink, before liquor and cocktails were introduced. Beer? Yes, of course. I think it’s against the law to be a Baltimore eating establishment and not serve beer. But you don’t come to the Tavern Room for beer.
You come to the Tavern Room for liquids like the artisanal Punches. These unisex mixed-drink delights served in large mason jars are the types of libations that can make enemies friends. The Kentucky Navy is a fun and tasty blend of bourbon, rye, spearmint tea, black walnut bitters, citrus and local cider. You may just have to order two jars to fight off the natives. Enjoyed on the rocks – and believe me, the ice cube is the largest perfectly squared cube I’ve ever seen in a glass – this punch goes down smooth.
Want to give the Tavern Room a try? Check them out on weeknights during happy hour when small plates and tastes are half-off or on Tuesdays during their half-off wine bottle nights.