New chefs and menu on deck at the Boathouse, Pazo and B&O

Winter is a time of rebirth and renewal, making it an ideal season for restaurants to revamp their menus. Or something like that. It’s also a good time to ditch the low-carb diet to savor some comfort foods.

Leave your house if you can, like I did, in order to try new dishes at Pazo in Harbor East, downtown Baltimore’s B&O American Brasserie and The Boathouse Canton.

First up is B&O. Though open for five years now, it remains a serious contender in Baltimore’s culinary scene. Most of the tables in the 4,500-square-foot restaurant were occupied when I dined with my husband on a Tuesday night in early November. We had a chance to chat with the B&O’s new Executive Chef, Mike Ransom, who recently moved to Baltimore from San Francisco.

The chili and garlic calamari, made in a brick oven, tasted more like a stew and bore no resemblance to the fried stuff that you might get at a sports bar. We also tried the sweet and savory potato and leek pancake topped with an apple salad.

My absolute favorite dish was the sweet potato gnocchi, served with Brussels sprouts and sage fried in butter. It’s the kind of dish you think about long after the meal and wonder when you’ll get your next fix. And hey sweet potatoes are good carbs!

sweet potato gnocchi at B&O American Brasserie

sweet potato gnocchi at B&O American Brasserie

Pazo last summer switched its focus from Spanish to Southern Italian cuisine under the guidance of Executive Chef Julian Marucci. The cavernous, two-story restaurant made its mark 10 years ago for being among the first restaurants in the city to open in a former industrial building.

I recently tasted some of the new dishes along with some other food writers. My favorites were the wood-grilled octopus; crispy mozzarella di bufala with Brussels sprouts and spicy tomato sauce (yeah I love the Brussels); and, the bucatini with lobster, tomato and — wait for it — Brussels sprouts. Tony Foreman, who owns Pazo and other restaurants in the Foreman Wolf Group, was on hand to talk about the dishes and the accompanying Italian wines.

Bucatini with lobster and Brussels sprouts

Bucatini with lobster and Brussels sprouts

Next, we head to The BoatHouse Canton where I recently joined about two dozen other local media folks on the second floor of the waterfront restaurant, ideally suited for a private event. Standout dishes from Chef Matt Campbell’s winter menu included the lobster mac and cheese and the grilled salmon with pearl onions, bacon and — yes, Brussels sprouts.

The grilled salmon at the BoatHouse in Canton

The grilled salmon at the BoatHouse in Canton

The BoatHouse opened last spring in the former Bay Cafe space, following a $1.1 million renovation. You can see the handiwork of SM+P Architects, who designed a warm, clean, modern space. Their other restaurant projects include Canton’s Verde and Hampden’s Woodberry Kitchen and The Food Market.

About Julekha

Maryland (sub) urbanite who writes about food, art, travel, and commercial real estate.
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