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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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....

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En Español

Amidst the explosion of the Hampden restaurant scene in recent years, Holy Frijoles has been a longtime stalwart. Located smack-dab in the middle of the The Avenue, the informal joint serving dependable Mexican cuisine has been at it for a number of years. So last year, when a devastating fire closed the establishment, folks waited patiently for the reopening. It took just about a year, but the unveiling finally took place in late fall, as the restaurant/bar not only reopened in its former digs, but added a healthy addition as well. The main room looks pretty familiar, with the big main bar on the left… …and a scattering of high-top tables along the right wall. Bright, bold colors and lots of funky artwork define the space. Along the rear wall are several colorful vintage pinball machines. ).push({});

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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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