Heart & Soul

Heart & Soul

Chef David Thomas, who formerly operated Herb & Soul restaurant in Parkville, has a new venture downtown near City Hall. Named for a 19th-century African-American journalist and activist, Ida B’s table serves what it calls modern soul food.

It occupies a large space in a brick industrial building within a stone’s throw of the elevated JFX overhead. Inside, there’s a barroom to the left, and large dining room divided into two areas with a wrought-iron rail.

Polished wood, industrial ductwork overhead, exposed brickwork and wood-textured drum shades for lighting, constitute the décor. There are also two adjoining spaces that can be used for private events.

Dramatic, oversized artworks portraying prominent African-Americans – including actor Paul Robeson and the restaurant’s namesake – adorn some of the walls.

The menu contains Southern-style classics and modern takes on soul food. Look for fried green tomatoes, “Southern sushi” (dirty rice and blackened chicken wrapped in collard greens), buttermilk-fried frog legs, deviled eggs, a grilled Carolina pork chop with roasted heirloom carrots and Carolina Gold rice perloo, and a pan-seared blue catfish with Hoppin’ John. The Old Bay fried chicken is crispy and delicious, and comes with a flaky buttermilk biscuit, Liberian greens and dirty rice. The excellent meatloaf is a blend of bison, and comes accompanied with greens and mashed root vegetables.

The restaurant maintains relationships with many local farms and purveyors, with most ingredients locally sourced.

The barroom has a nice cocktail program; my Sazerac was perfectly prepared.

On the several occasions I’ve visited, the placed has been full of patrons and the servers friendly and on point. Ida B’s – despite its slightly off-the-beaten-path location – is a solid addition to the downtown dining scene. Open for lunch and dinner. {Ida B’s Table, 235 Holliday Street, Downtown}

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.