Rye Street Tavern is sweet! I’ve been a few times and had some great food and drinks, but my most recent outing with some friends from DC was really satisfying. We decided to hit brunch on Sunday afternoon hoping it might be a bit less crowded and we were right- just the right amount of guests to seem busy but not a ghost town. Ample, free parking is a nice perk and if you are early for a ressie you can sit out on the comfy Adirondack chairs and have a drink while enjoying the harbor views.
Rye Street Tavern is esthetically pretty cool- it looks like a newly built barn plopped on a plot of land next to their sister distillery, Sagamore Spirits in Port Covington in East Baltimore, right on the water. It’s part of the redevelopment plan spearheaded by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. The interior is sleek and semi-industrial with hints of concrete, copper and tile. The lounge fireplace softens the main bar area and offers a sense of coziness to break up the glass, steel and wooden floors. We chose a nicely leather upholstered booth in the main dining room with plenty of room for the four of us.
Our server, Liz, was a delight. Prompt, funny and casual. I totally hit it off with her and several times my spouse had to hit my ankle under the table because I get a bit chatty!
We started with Bloody Caesars for drinks ($13) and an order of the Tuna Poke $16) and Fried softshell clams with Old Bay aioli ($16). Ok, the Tuna Poke was tasty with the right amount of spice, but the fried softshell clams were absolutely divine. It was like a blast of creamy, saline sea-ness surrounded by the lightest fried breading. The dipping aioli was slightly tart and flavorful and a perfect accompaniment. A crisp, fried basil leaf and charred pepper rounded out the dish. Ummh!- I’m still thinking about it.
It took a bit for our entrees to come, but Liz kept us busy with laughter and soon our order of Classic fried chicken ($20), a Juicy Lucy burger ($15) and two other dishes I cannot for the life of me remember, arrived. I don’t know where they raised the chickens that were sacrificed to make our meals, but it must have been a poultry spa for birds that pamper and nourish the chickens constantly. AC’S Famous Fried Chicken was a classic Southern Style ½ chicken served with silky and buttery biscuits and house whiskey pickles. Wow! The chicken actually tasted like chicken.
Remember when you were young and your grandma made homemade chicken soup? Yes- that kind of chicken. Before it was pumped full of water with a syringe in a factory. It was breaded evenly and fried to a nice golden brown and cooked perfectly. It arrived hot, tasted great and was very filling. The Burger was made using fresh beef and also tasted like real beef. It had a very distinct, round, full flavor that was accentuated by the house-cured bacon, cheddar, beefsteak tomato and caramelized onion aioli, not overtaken by them. It was also served on a cute little homemade bun with excellent, hand-cut long fries with a side of ketchup.
Rye Street Tavern isn’t cheap, but it won’t break the bank. As with most nice eateries, alcohol plays a major role in the amount of the bill. The appetizers and entrees are priced nicely. I would suggest ordering a bottle of wine if 2 or more of you are going to be drinking . I have been back for lunch during the week and it didn’t disappoint. This time I actually had a Manhattan ($13) made with Sagamore Distillery Signature Rye Whiskey. It was very well-made and I like their product.
I like the location of Rye Street Tavern because it is very serene and quiet, yet it has this imposing view of Danish freight ships in the distant. It is a pretty remarkable site. It’s a little out there, but definitely worth the short trip to Port Covington.