If you've never been to Tark's Grill before, let me warn you that it's not the easiest place to find. It's actually inside Greenspring Station, the little Cross Keys-like shopping area at Falls and Joppa Roads, not on the outside near Poulet. The signage is small, so keep your eyes peeled, especially at night!
We visited Tark's early on a Thursday evening, and it was already packed full of noisy people. I'm guessing many of them were regulars from before City Cafe owners Gino Cardinale and Bruce Bodie took over the restaurant. New ownership brought Tark's a new chef and new menus, all of which will be familiar to patrons of their Mount Vernon establishment. Chef James Jennings is doing double duty at both restaurants and is so far offering pretty much the same food at both, with a few exceptions. The menu will also seem familiar to patrons of The Food Market, as that restaurant's chef/owner Chad Gauss has run City Cafe's kitchen in the not so distant past and his influence is evident.
Seems complicated, but the food thankfully isn't. However, the menu is a bit puzzling. Similar to The Food Market's menu, there are multiple appetizer divisions like "Finger Food" and "First Bites," plus the less confusing "Principals." I'm not sure what the difference is between the first two categories, or why fried oysters and buffalo popcorn chicken are finger foods but warm brie flatbread and crispy calamari are "first bites." And why "first bites" is the second category on the menu. But maybe I'm the only one who notices these sorts of things.
The oysters were my favorite of the bunch. They were barely cooked on the inside and nicely crunchy on the outside. The bacon aioli was rich, and despite being under the oysters, didn't render them unreasonably soggy.
The original incarnation of Tark's Grill was a steakhouse--not our thing at all--so we're pretty pleased with the new version, at least concept-wise. I do think it deserves its own menu though, because I'm betting the Lutherville crowd is pretty different from the City Cafe's regular clientele (and The Food Market's). Perhaps it's not as necessary to offer 33 appetizers, 20 entrees, and 7 side dishes in the county? Or maybe it is. I'm sure Bruce and Gino will figure it out; they've been successful restaurateurs so far. I hope Tark's is a hit for them, as it's nice to have another locally owned, non-chain, restaurant in our neck of Baltimore County.
2360 W Joppa Rd #116
Lutherville-Timonium, MD 21093
Posted on Minxeats.com.