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Bluegrass Tavern Restaurant Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Inside Bluegrass Tavern restaurant.

Inside Bluegrass Tavern restaurant.

Libby Zay

The Bottom Line

With a cozy, southern atmosphere and an emphasis on food made from local ingredients, Bluegrass Tavern is a neighborhood gem that is quickly becoming a dining destination in Baltimore. Set a few blocks from busy Light and Charles streets in Federal Hill, the double-decker restaurant draws people looking to dine on house-made charcuterie while sipping from a menu of over 30 craft bourbons. Meat is definitely the focus of the constantly evolving menu: On any given day, the selection might include quail, antelope, boar, oxtail, venison, rabbit, or duck. Those looking to try some new tastes—and don't mind spending some cash—should give Bluegrass Tavern a shot.
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Pros

  • Wide selection of bourbons
  • Great ambience: Cozy dining room makes a great date spot
  • Outdoor seating area on warm days
  • Seasonal menu focuses on local and sustainable foods
  • Knowledgeable, helpful servers

Cons

  • No parking lot and limited street parking
  • Exotic menu may be too over-the-top for some tastes
  • Small portion sizes
  • Few vegetarian options
  • Not recommended for families with young children

Description

  • Address: 1500 South Hanover St.
  • Phone: 410-244-5101
  • Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Closed Mondays
  • Prices: Appetizers: $7-17; Sandwiches: $9-14; Dinner Entrees: $12-32
  • Parking: Street parking only; valet available after 5 p.m.

Guide Review - Bluegrass Tavern Restaurant Review

Bluegrass Tavern is the kind of place where food should be taken in slowly, bite by bite. Executive Chef Ray Kumm's menu is designed to be savored, not devoured—so those hoping to stuff themselves with huge plates of food should look elsewhere.

One of only a handful of restaurants in Baltimore that offers charcuterie, Bluegrass Tavern does meat right. Duck prosciutto, venison sausage and bacon jam are just a few carnivorous options that are made in-house and served alongside some relatively unmemorable cheeses. If you're unschooled in the art of charcuterie, ordering from the menu can seem a bit overwhelming. Don't be afraid to ask the expert servers for advice, or to just take a gamble and pick a few options at random—chances are you won't be disappointed.

As for entrees, Chef Kumm takes a creative approach to southern comfort foods such as hushpuppies, fried chicken, sweetbreads, pulled pork and cornbread by masterfully mixing in bits and pieces from French, Italian and Asian cuisines. The result is dishes such as bulgogi marinated flat iron steak paired with kimchee and cold Korean potato salad. Although the taste profile varies from day to day, the emphasis is always on fresh, local ingredients paired with craft beers and a wide selection of bourbons. Take heed from the suggestions on the menu or make your own match.

At fist glance, visitors might be a bit shocked over the menu at Bluegrass Tavern. Less adventurous eaters will probably be drawn to the "Daily Grind," a $14 burger that is the only constant on the menu. However, the burger should be the last choice amongst the rest of the inventive options. The taste of both the burger and accompanying fries is disappointingly average, especially compared to the many nearby burger joints. At Bluegrass Tavern, those willing to step out of their comfort zone and expose themselves to new foods and new tastes are the ones who are rewarded.

Besides food packed with flavor, the atmosphere is also a bragging point for Bluegrass Tavern. Although parking can be a bit of a headache, the ambience is anything but aggravating. Painted in relaxing greens and blues with lots of rustic wood, this is a grown-up restaurant with a bit of a masculine edge. If dining with a date, ask for the cozy dining room on the first floor that features a stone hearth and low lighting. And in case you are wondering: Despite the restaurant's name, the background music is anything but country.
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