New Kid on The Avenue

There’s no doubt that Hampden has the hottest restaurant scene in the city right now. After a spate of new openings there over the past year, the newest entrant is the Avenue Kitchen + Bar, on—you guessed it—the Avenue.

Set on two levels, the space was formerly occupied by Mamie’s, Dogwood, and most recently, a 3-year run by Le Garage French bistro. The new project is backed by restaurateur Patrick Dahlgren, whose other projects include The Rowhouse Grille in Federal Hill and Heavy Seas Alehouse in Harbor East. Running things on a day-to-day basis is Bill Irvin, whose local restaurant resume includes Kooper’s, Manor Tavern, La Folie Bistro and The BoatHouse Canton.

If you enter off the street, you’ll be greeted by a small cocktail bar with glass doors that open out onto sidewalk tables.

Head down the ramp into the comfortable main dining room and a roomy barroom to the left, with a row of taps, lots of barstools and a collection of high-top tables.

The menu consists of casual American classics with an emphasis on fresh seafood.

The chicken-in-a-basket is a personal favorite—juicy, flavorful chicken jacketed in a thick, crunchy layer of breaded crust, accompanied by a crisp, fresh slaw and golden fries.

Weekend brunch has an expansive menu of breakfast entrees and sandwiches. My pick is the thick-cut rosemary focaccia bread grilled cheese sandwich—oozing with gooey melted gruyere cheese and topped by two perfect sunny-side-up eggs and paired with crispy French fries.

My pick for a brunch cocktail is a classic mimosa, but at nighttime, the bar brings a strong cocktail game.

A nice selection of bourbons and whiskies fills out the back bar, with a knowledgeable staff who is eager to pour. A place like Avenue Kitchen + Bar fills in a nice niche in this northern neighborhood—a perfect pace for locals to gather, and a destination spot worth traveling for. {Avenue Kitchen + Bar, 911 W. 36th Street, Hampden}

About Brian Michael Lawrence

Brian Michael Lawrence is one of THE Baltimore style experts. After all, he was the longtime editor-in-chief at STYLE Magazine, which specialized in covering everything stylish around the Baltimore area. Brian also served as editorial director for the digital division at Sinclair Broadcasting, and creative director at Blue Sky Design. Currently, he oversees communications & marketing for the department of Tourism, Film & the Arts at Maryland’s Commerce Department.  In his bi-weekly column, you’ll get to see what cool hotspots are piquing the interest of this Baltimore style maven and why - whether it's the fabulous food, cool cocktails or elegant environs.

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