At Quench, Chef Ed Hardy and barman Matt Allred aim to live up to the hype stemming from the Favorite New Restaurant and Best Cocktail Program awards they earned from the Restaurant Association of Maryland. They, along with their team of chefs, go beyond simply making food and mixing drinks?they prepare artful dinner specialties and unique, out-of-the-box cocktails. Though their meal creations arise out of seemingly simple ingredients?local produce, house-ground meats?the team crafts wildly creative send-ups of typical pub fare in addition to traditional comfort foods. Short ribs are braised for days, bacon is cured in-house, and fresh ground lamb meatballs fill out the seasonal risotto with fresh local ramps. Quench also plates healthy fare such as edamame hummus served with local cucumbers and apples and a fresh and locally caught fish of the day, all complemented by inventive cocktails. The seasonal dessert menu of house-made ice cream sandwiches and rhubarb cobbler round out the dining experience.
The drinks, with clever names such as Sex in the Burbs and Django Juice, draw on a palette of blood-orange juice, house-made foams, and uniquely infused spirits. Mixology classes prepare students to delight party guests, and Quench also hosts events such as Saturday and Sunday brunches scored by live music and scratch-made weekday lunches.
A name like Houlihan's points to a menu of hearty comfort food, and although the eatery certainly has staples such as Cajun jambalaya and reuben sandwiches, it also has dishes not found in your typical American pub. Soy-glazed char-crusted ahi tuna and sesame-chicken salads show off Asian-inspired ingredients, and Italian dishes include chicken fettuccine alfredo dripping with three types of cheese and flatbread pizzas topped with roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. Some meals can even be made with gluten-free ingredients.
Like the food, the drink menu is a mixture of old standbys?from Yuengling to Amstel Light?and new favorites such as Fat Tire and Angry Orchard Hard Cider, plus a variety of specialty cocktails. And a well-edited wine list provides options at all price points without making customers read a menu twice as long and three times as complicated as their last tax returns.
The owners of First Break Sports Bar & Grill turned a tragic fire into an opportunity. After the loss, they took time to update the space beyond its original condition, and today gleaming granite tops the bar and hardwood floors shine throughout. A typical night sees the latest sports events flickering on 25 HDTVs, while smokers retire to a separate lounge where they can throw darts through the smoke rings they blow. Players send billiard balls cracking at 9-foot Diamond Pro-Am tables, and on Wednesday nights, participants count their chips during Texas Hold 'Em tournaments. But whether they're spectating or playing, diners can fuel up with selections from the bar's menu with sandwiches, wraps, and pasta until 2 a.m.
Though devoutly British in name, Union Jack's British Pub is actually a transatlantic blend of both English and American conventions. Inside the expansive space, stone walls and a fireplace bear a distinctly European feel, though HD plasma TVs and projection screens broadcast games of hockey and American football. The food menu retains a similar dichotomy, offering up options such as Maryland crab cakes, fish and chips, and Caribbean jerk chicken sandwiches. The two nations fully unite at the handsome wooden bar, where guests can sip on one of 16 drafts, ranging from Fuller's London Porter to state-sourced Samuel Adams. Should cultural clashes persist, patrons can retire to the billiards room after their meal to settle disputes over the proper pronunciation of "aluminum."
At the The Royal Mile Pub, servers and regulars alike greet guests with a hearty "Cead mile failte!" It's Gaelic for "a hundred thousand welcomes," and the sentiment permeates every brew, stew, and show. Juxtaposing the local with the far-flung, Royal Mile cultivates a communal mood while maintaining a Scottish identity. To wit, the menu spotlights haggis, Orkney Scotch eggs, and traditional British-style breakfasts.
Spotlighting Scotland is a trend that also permeates the eatery's decor. Colorful tartans hang from the rafters, some of which match the kilts of live performers. The pub even takes its name from the region: Between Scotland's Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyroodhouse, there's a 1-mile series of streets traditionally traveled by Scottish royalty. The Royal Mile Pub is named for this thoroughfare, and its staff has welcomed its guests as it would kings and queens since it opened in 1981.