Hot Spots: Tried & True

by Brian Michael Lawrence

The Clipper Mill Road tract down the hillside from Hampden has amassed quite the collection of food and beverage choices: Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact, Cosima, La Cuchara, Birroteca, Gypsy’s Truckstaurant, and Waverly Brewing all call the area home. Joining them this fall is True Chesapeake Oyster Co. 

Located within the recently renovated Whitehall Mill complex (it’s around back), it takes advantage of the space’s soaring height and architectural interest.
Chef Zack Mills, best known for his work in the kitchen at Wit & Wisdom in the Four Seasons downtown, helms the kitchen here.
The menu is designed in the spirit of a seafood house, but with unexpected spins and bits of flair.
We sampled the mushroom toast and the farm & co-op salad with local goat cheese, candied walnuts and a sorghum & cider vinaigrette…
…spaghetti with middleneck clams…
…roasted half-shell oysters…
…crab dip mac & cheese…
…and the Chesapeake fried chicken with pickles, celeriac puree and honey-hot sauce. It’s become one of my favorite renditions of fried chicken in town—moist inside and perfectly seasoned and crunchy outside.
Beverage director Chelsea Gregoire has gotten a lot of media attention for her bar and cocktail program.
We’ve sampled things both basic and quite specialized, and it’s all solid.
The bar itself has fronts on two sides— both on the more casual front room…
…and the more formal, expansive dining in the rear.
The interiors are rendered in earth tones and neutrals—exposed brick, hewn wood and polished concrete all contribute to a naturalistic feel.
Large floating white glass globes encased in oversized fisherman’s netting serve as lighting fixtures, and the spare artwork employed is of geometrically inspired nautical photography.
Besides the bar, the front room contains communal tables and some booth seating.
In the rear, the main dining room contains tables, booths and banquettes, with the bar area on a raised level overlooking it.
Crowds have been flocking to True Chesapeake since it opened, and it’s a worthy trip from anywhere in town. There’s plenty of free parking out front, as well as a nice view of the Jones Falls River beyond.
{True Chesapeake Oyster Co., 3300 Clipper Mill Road, Hampden}
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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