B & O Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco is one of our favorite restaurants, especially for special occasions, but also for a simple weeknight dinner. The restaurant has seen several executive chefs over its relatively short existence, but each has created complex, high-end dishes that have never been boring or predictable. B & O's current executive chef, Scott Hines, continues the tradition set by his predecessors with a new fall menu that entertains the palate with layers of flavor and ingredient combinations that are new and exciting. We were happy to be invited to try out the new offerings recently.
We started our meal with a Brussels sprout salad made of the bright green outer leaves of the sprouts. Crab apples, onion, Marcona almonds, and pancetta round out the salad, providing a variety of flavors and textures. When I first tasted it, I thought the pancetta was Mexican chorizo. I later found out that the maple vinaigrette included achiote (or annatto) which lends an earthy flavor as well as a yellow hue, and is also used in chorizo. I was glad to discover that my tastebuds were not playing tricks on me.
The oxtail marmalade is slow cooked oxtail (actually the tail from cattle we think of as cows, as opposed to oxen) blended with sweet and savory ingredients to create intense, meaty, flavor. When combined with a bit of bone marrow schmaltz (a rich combination of bone marrow and beef tallow) and a little of the lightly acidic pickled shallot and peppercress garnish on a slice of ciabatta, the result is a rich and satisfying bite that is lovely and well-balanced. A top-notch appetizer that would also be a perfect bar snack when paired with one of the B&Os always inventive cocktails. In that vein, I had the Harvest Moon from the new fall menu, a surprisingly dry combination of apple brandy, cacao nib syrup, lemon, and Millstone gingerroot cider. The Minx had the Rock Wall, a combination of mezcal and rum with cider, lemon, and spiced sugar syrup that reminded her of wood smoke and fall leaves.
Full disclosure - Chef Hines provided several recipes for our latest book, Maryland's Chesapeake. He's a terrifically creative chef who is also very generous. We are so pleased that he's running the kitchen at B & O, and look forward to many more delicious meals there.
B & O Brasserie
The Hotel Monaco
2 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland, 21201
Posted on Minxeats.com.