In its former lives, the space now occupied by J'Ollies Restaurant was a biker bar, a seafood restaurant, and a pub. When J'Ollies moved in, though, that space was transformed into a family-friendly restaurant where diners can feast on pancakes and waffles straight from the griddle, or homemade biscuits bathed in sausage gravy. They can even create their own omelet, filling a hearty three-egg and cheese package with meat and veggies. Later in the day, lunch and dinner options include American classics such as beer-battered cod, meatloaf, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
The chefs at Calvert House Inn, which is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, commingle succulent crab, scallops, and oysters to create a menu of freshly caught fare alongside free-range meat dishes and a bounty of vegetarian plates. An appetizer of oysters rockefeller ($7.95) readies palates for the main event, as baked oysters sizzle beneath spinach, bacon, and a drizzle of earthy Pernod liqueur. Broiled 5-ounce morsels of backfin and jumbo lump crab make up Maryland-style crab cakes ($12.95–$25.95), which scrumptiously celebrate East Coast culinary traditions and mermaid birthdays alike, and shrimp Calvert ($18.95) drapes garlic-and-lemon-infused crustaceans with a light tomato sauce and gems of feta cheese. A mélange of natural and free-range beef, pork, chicken, and lamb dishes keep appetites on solid ground more effectively than eating a magnet, and herbivorous eaters find a range of meat-free items, including the roasted-red-pepper-and-onion-topped grilled-eggplant sandwich ($7.95).
Chef Timothy Dean, a former contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Season 7, builds gourmet burgers with certified grass-fed Angus beef free from hormones and antibiotics. Even though Dean honed his culinary skills under chef Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate Hotel and later at Paladin in New York City, he chose to focus on more casual cuisine for his own restaurant. According to a 2012 article in the Washington Post, Dean says, "I've always been in fine dining but I realized that people are just not spending that kind of money anymore." So he decided to pair his gourmet finesse with food that is accessible to everyone.
That decision paid off because his burgers earned him a rave review in the Baltimore Sun, which proclaimed, "The vibe is fast food, but the food – burgers, fries and gourmet pizzas – is worthy of white tablecloths." His burgers come crowned with classic toppings such as american cheese, vine ripe tomatoes, and bibb lettuce as well as inventive combinations such as The Baker burger with housemade jalapeño aioli and fried onions.
Along with signature burgers, Dean also features hand-tossed pizzas topped with jerk chicken and thai basil and sides of sweet potato fries with honey. For dessert, patrons may sip thick, handcrafted milk shakes in flavors including dark chocolate, vanilla bean, or strawberry. Sweets include red velvet cupcakes, Belgium chocolate-chip cookies, and Kahlua chocolate-chip brownies.
If comfort food is supposed to evoke a sense of ease and familiarity, the Impossible Double Hank burger breaks rather severely with tradition. With its intimidating name and heaps of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bacon, and cheddar, the burger forces the brave patrons of Hank’s Tavern & Eats to confront their most delicious fears. Though less overwhelming than the double-portioned hamburgers, the tavern’s shrimp po’ boys, baby back ribs, and fish burritos are made with similarly fresh ingredients and prove just as tasty. While digging into these and other hearty eats, patrons can follow local sports on 20 TV screens and guesstimate their height by lying facedown on the 50-foot bar.