CWE à la Mode

Are you hip enough for Maryland House?

And still there's more seafood to delight in: the crudo of freshwater fish (usually trout), which hums on the fork alongside fresh arugula, red onions and marinated white anchovies. "Crudo" is Italian for raw; the fish is steeped in citrus juices, like ceviche. The milder flavor of the trout and the salty sting of the anchovies meld beautifully in a yin-and-yang, Odd Couplesort of way.

Only about four items are listed on the menu as "cooked." That indication, and their prices (into the high teens), makes it seem as though they'd be entrée-sized. Sadly, that's not the case. Seared tuna is about the size of a candy bar, sliced into bite-size pieces and treated to a ridiculously mild salsa verde. But there's a robust, peppery crust at work that supplies the necessary oomph. A pan-roasted beef tenderloin medallion, all wee four ounces of it, makes for a ravishing if stingily rationed portion of red-meat lustiness, plated above the sweetest of starches, whipped parsnips, and a multidimensional blueberry glaze.

Just one Maryland House dish disappointed me: the sea scallop risotto. The scallops were tall, marshmallowy, nearly perfect; the risotto was hard, loose, watery — a borderline disaster. Maybe that owes to limitations of the kitchen.

A very, very, very fine House: This CWE spot deserves every bit of its popularity.
Jennifer Silverberg
A very, very, very fine House: This CWE spot deserves every bit of its popularity.

Location Info

Map

Maryland House at Brennan's

4659A Maryland Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - Central West End

Details

Maryland House at Brennan's
4659A Maryland Avenue; 314-361-9444. Hours: 6 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Tue.-Sat. (Kitchen closes at about 10 or 10:30 p.m.)

Asparagus salad $10
Seared tuna $14
Beef tenderloin medallion $18
Shoe Whore $9

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For that matter, the bar is staffed on the light side as well — usually just one bartender and an occasional bar-back, with Brennan often filling in as a busser and runner. That wouldn't be a problem if the "International Drink Menu" weren't so temptingly complex. Who the heck comes up with drinks like the Nite Fox (sangria, Campari, sloe gin and oranges), the Shoe Whore (strawberry brandy, Frangelico, heavy cream, basil) and the Perfect Fit (blood oranges, Mandarin vodka, Grand Marnier) and pulls them off so effortlessly? Probably the same people who can decorate a bathroom with bundled twigs and make it look right-on and cool, instead of just a lame copycatting of something out of House Beautiful.

I'll weather any onslaught to my self-esteem in order to indulge in the foods Maryland House offers. Maybe I'll even go there without worrying about what I'm wearing. Looks matter a lot at Maryland House, but for some of us, taste will always matter more.

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