The Brewer’s Art provides the chance to experience dining in a classic, grand, Charles Street old town home (dating from around 1900). Up the short flight of steps and thru the foyer, you enter a series of 5 large rooms which have the feel of the original space.
The first two rooms you enter function as a bar and lounge. Upholstered easy chairs and cocktail height tables set a casual, friendly feel despite formal surroundings and tall ceilings. (A bartender friend of Marty’s from the Hippo has sung the praises of a burger and fries on the separate and limited light fare menu in the lounge!)
At the entrance of the third of the rooms – which has the feel of a library with dark wood book shelves lining perimeter of the room and an impressive coffered ceiling – you’ll find the hostess station for the restaurant.
We ended up being seated in the fourth room which is lighter and brighter than the other rooms with an impressive ceiling with elaborate plaster moldings, walnut wainscoting and a dark marble fireplace. A series of over-size French doors look out on a sun room which now is home to huge copper beer brewing tanks (This IS “The Brewer’s Art” after all! <Smile>).
In wonderful contrast to classic formality of the room, both the staff and customers are dressed casually while very modern, abstract paintings hang on the walls. (This is not a place that you have to get “dressed up” to go to…)
The dining room menu is quite limited (and is changed seasonally) and offers hearty, “European-style country fare”. Currently, menu offers 6 starters ($8 – $11), 1 soup ($6), 3 side salads ($7 – $9) and just 8 entrees ($19 – $26). But…even with the limited entree options, there is a vegetarian entrée – Mushroom Ravioli ($19). There’s also a separate menu of award winning brews ($4) made in those huge copper vats! The standard brews include Beacon (a hoppy pale ale), Ozzy (a Belgium style brew), Resurrection (an Abbey-style ale) and Proletary (a dark ale). There’s also seasonal brews and a long list of premium “guest beers” made elsewhere.
We both decide to begin with a Caesar Salad ($7) – though we were tempted to try the Curry Cauliflower soup ($6). The choice for the main course wasn’t easy either – Marty decision for the Potato Crusted Cod ($23) – was a close call over the Kobe Beef Pot Roast. John waffled back and forth between the Pork Chops marinated in the “brewed here” Resurrection Ale and the Steak Frites ($26) before deciding on the steak.
Our Caesar salads are served on icy chilled plates (nice touch!) and topped with one white anchovy perched on top of parmesan crisp with lots of yummy Caesar dressing. Very good! (When Marty asks after the fact if he could have gotten another anchovy or two, our waitress smiled and told him he should have just asked…) John’s steak is big thick hunk of meat with rosemary garlic fries and some lightly dressed field greens (wonderful counterpoint to the steak and fries but if he had known they were included, he might have opted earlier for the soup!)/ John decides to try a house-brewed “Ozzy” beer ($4) and it’s a good complement for his meal. John’s steak is cooked as ordered and very satisfying; the fries are hot, a bit crunchy, tasty and delicious (and he feels guilty for not sharing any with Marty!) Marty is impressed with his Potato Crusted Cod – it’s a large serving. The fish is very good and he’s delighted with the sauce (a mix of the “brewed here” Proletary Ale and mustard) as well as by the bed of sweet and sour cabbage laying under his Cod! We’ve heard good things about desserts here and sample a “Duet of Chocolate and Linzer Tortes” (two small house-made pieces of pastry: a raspberry linzer torte and small chocolate indulgence – both seem worth the extra calories! <Wink!>)
The combination of delightful surroundings, good hearty food, and friendly attentive service leave us feeling very good about our experience at The Brewer’s Art. It’s earned a “Thumbs Up!” and our recommendation. (But… you may want to check the limited menu ahead of time and see if choices fit your druthers!) Having just learned about the light fare menu in the lounge, we want to come back to try the Burger in the lounge ($9 w/melted cheddar and those awesome fries – Mmmmm!)
FACTS? Brewer’s Art (Mt. Vernon), 1106 N. Charles St; 410-547-6925, www.thebrewersart.com ; ( Dinner starting 5:30 pm daily; til 9 pm Sun – Weds & til 11 pm Thurs – Sat, light fare in the lounge 4 pm – 11 pm ) Full bar; limited vegetarian options; Finding parking in Mt. Vernon can usually be a challenge; Moveable Feast Supporter. (FYI – This review published in 2010/January)