Brian Michael Lawrence / Style

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 continues to pique this Baltimore style maven's interest, be it fabulous food, cool cocktails, or great looks he finds, both on people and in places. 

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To Sir, With Love

The venue at the corner of Bond and Aliceanna streets has housed some legendary music establishments, including Fletcher’s and The Get Down. It now houses Sir Duke Bar & Liquor Store. The place exudes an aura of nonchalant cool. The bar is up front on the right, with several tables in the center and a casual lounge area on the left. Vestiges of its time as a music and dance venue remain, reflected in the artwork that adorns the walls. The excellent, eclectic music selection on the sound system plays to this as well. Walk toward the rear, and a back room contains shelves of hooch, available for purchase. A cool accent is the retro bicycle, built in as a support for the counter bar. The service is friendly and unpretentious, and daily happy hour specials include...

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Room for Cocktails

The Elk Room is a newcomer on Baltimore’s craft cocktail scene. It joins a growing list (think Bookmaker’s, Rye, The Bluebird Cocktail Room, etc.) of establishments dedicated to serious mixology. Situated behind a non-descript door at the rear of a courtyard that it shares with its big brother, Tagliata Italian chophouse, its interiors are dark, refined, and lush. Duck through the heavy velvet draperies and you’ll find yourself in a smallish, dimly lit barroom. The walls behind the bar are stocked with a breathtaking variety of alcoholic elixirs, all residing under the watchful eyes of a mounted, stuffed…you guessed it…elk. A handsome leather-bound menu lists the house cocktail specialties as well as a short menu of cheese plates, charcuterie, fondue and sliders. My choices for cocktails included two classics: a vodka martini… …and a...

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101 Reasons

New kid on the South Charles Street block is 101 Deli Bar. It joins its nearby related siblings Wayward and Banditos in this bar-heavy party district (its neighbors are Mother’s Grille, Ropewalk Tavern, Mad River, Nick’s, Nobles, MaGerks and the long row of drinking establishments on nearby Cross Street. To the left, a long bar features a row of beer taps and several TV screens for sports viewing. There’s always a daily menu of 10 local craft brews on offer, as well as a full bar. The backdrop for everything is a clean, nicely designed space with color accents that reflect the local sports teams—orange overhead shelving and purple upholstered booths. Wooden butcher-block is used for the dining tables and the long communal table in the center of the room.

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Comin’ Through The Rye

Open for just a few weeks in the developing Port Covington part of town, Rye Street Tavern joins its sibling restaurant, Rec Pier Chop House in Fells Point, as Baltimore’s newest dining destination. Both are operated by NoHo Hospitality, and are part of the holdings of Kevin Plank’s Under Armour empire. My Sagamore rye sazerac was equally well done. During my time there I was greeted by Sagamore Spirit Brian Treacy, who has overseen the launch of the namesake spirit. A particularly appealing aspect of the property is the wide expanse of green lawn that separates the restaurant from the nearby water’s edge. Groups of welcoming Adirondack chairs clustered around firepits offer perfect spots for gathering with friends in nice weather. For those who venture to this developing part of town, the payoff is good one, and Rye Street Tavern is a solid addition...

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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. If you enter off the street, you’ll be greeted by a small cocktail bar with glass doors that open out onto sidewalk tables. The menu consists of casual American classics with an emphasis on fresh seafood. 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. A nice selection of bourbons and whiskies fills out the back bar, with a knowledgeable staff who is eager to pour. A...

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Rat Pack Retro

A photographer friend was organizing an all-boys dinner for approximately 25 or so gents, many in the photography, newspaper and journalism business—dubbed whimsically, the “Friendly Sons of St. Michael’s.” Looking around, I took note of the wooden paneling, metallic frosted mirrored walls, and deep, tufted red leather booths—all set off with a vaguely nautical theme. There are several dining rooms, all featuring wooden paneling and tables with wooden captain’s chairs.

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Nuovo Italian – Tagliata

Local restaurateur Alex Smith and his Atlas Restaurant Group (Loch Bar, Azumi, Ouzo Bay) has added another sibling to his growing collection of restaurants in Baltimore: Tagliata. Located on the border of Little Italy and Harbor East, in the spot formerly occupied by Fleet Street Kitchen, it opened in mid-summer. Subtle changes have been made to the layout, and some dramatic changes made to the décor, courtesy of local designer Patrick Sutton. The front door has been relocated from the streetfront to the side, off of the large courtyard. The martini I ordered was perfectly concocted and refreshingly chilled, and the happy hour crowd on a weeknight was well-dressed, attractive and lively. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 3pm to 7pm, and features wines by the glass for $6, a selection of draft and bottled beers for $4, and classic cocktails priced at $8, along with...

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Cocktails al Fresco

The latest project from Spike Gjerde’s Foodshed restaurant group, Sandlot lies on the point of land that juts out into the harbor at the foot of the Exelon tower. (It sits atop a capped toxic EPA Superfund site, but let’s not think too hard about that.) It’s an all-outdoor venue, with little opportunity for shade or cover, but if you’re looking for a spot to feel the sand between your toes and sip some adult beverages, it’s perfect. If you’re hungry, be prepared to stand on line to place your order, but patience pays off when you dig into some of the island-spiced pulled pork or the spit-fired grilled chicken. As you might expect, the place is popular with a younger, party-seeking crowd, and packs up with crowds on weekends.

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Tables & Tastes

…this oval coffee table by Mike Ryback/Ryback Woodworking… …meatball al forno with pomodoro sauce, provolone picante and garden basil… A perfect complement to the bites was the Tintaretto cocktail, a refreshing mix of pureed strawberries, ginger beer and Prosecco. {AGGIO, 614 Water Street, Downtown}

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Cocktail Chic

What to wear when throwing together an impromptu pre-Independence Day cocktail party? Events & catering consultant Tracey Watson chose this chic maxi floral sundress by Milumia with a button-up front and leg slit. “I liked it so much, I ordered seven versions of it from Amazon Prime!” says the Homeland resident. Tracey pumped up her party dress with a pair of high-heeled sandals by INC International Concepts. Situated on the second level of the old Red Man’s Lodge building, it features a beautiful main cocktail lounge outfitted with communal tables, banquettes, and chrystal chandeliers overhead. The menu goes beyond charcuterie to include things like lamb meatballs, chicken liver mousse, steak tartare, and fried sweetbreads. Kevin Plank’s new Sagamore Spirit Distillery recently opened in Port Discovery, and I was given a tour of it...

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