There's not a lot of encouraging news in the restaurant world these days, especially not here in Baltimore. Between the closing of favorites like Ixia and the recent "Baltimore=The Wire" episode of No Reservations, Baltimore food lovers are smarting a little bit.
Maybe that's why the opening of B&O American Brasserie (410-692-6172, 2 North Charles Street, adjacent to the new Hotel Monaco) is garnering so much attention. For weeks, local food writers have been buzzing about the restaurant, which as of yesterday is open for breakfast and dinner (it will also be open for lunch starting August 17th).
The menu is of the local, fresh, American sort - lots of seasonal ingredients, a raw bar and a great cocktail menu. I haven't eaten there yet, but based on what I've heard, the space is cool and the food is tasty.
All of that is great for Baltimoreans who love food, of course, but what I'm really excited about is a little more personal. I'm excited about the chef.
Chef E. Michael Reidt is a CIA grad and was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2001, when he was cooking Brazilian-inspired food at Bomboa in Boston. In the years since, he's helmed several restaurants in central and southern California and he's gotten press in a bunch of foodie and mainstream publications. He's a chef with national buzz behind him and that is, I think, exactly what Baltimore needs.
Not to take away from the rest of the chefs in town -we've got some excellent people weilding knives around town. But Baltimore is a hometown kind of place, which is mostly a good thing, but it can also be limiting. Sometimes you need somebody from the outside to raise the profile of a city. It might not be fair to the chefs who have been turning out creative, quality food in Baltimore for years, but Reidt's arrival has the potential to change the national perception of the Baltimore food scene.
And that, really, is a fantastic thing for everybody.
[Photo of Chef E. Michael Reidt courtesy of B&O American Brasserie.]