The Chesapeake Room, Barracks Row

(See the December 8, 2010 Review here.)

I’d been to The Chesapeake Room three times in 2010 (July 8th, August 3rd, December 7th), and it slowly worked its way up my food chain (sorry) in quality, finally being raised to Italic and eventually ranked as my #1 restaurant in Southeast Capitol Hill before being elbowed aside when Brian Wilson became the new chef at Montmartre. What surprised me over the past year were the disagreements I received (several, from different people) about the high placement in the Dining Guide. When I hear from several disparate people that I’ve over- or under-rated a restaurant, it usually means they’re correct, and so I made a mental note to go back and reevaluate The Chesapeake Room, finally getting there last night.

Having already had a surprisingly ample snack at Fusion Grill, I didn’t have space for a full meal, so The Chesapeake Room became part two of a mini-progressive dinner.

I didn’t realize that Brewer’s Art Resurrection ($5) was sold in cans, but I guess I should have because of this post. This is a good beer, and I’m going to tell you something about it that will surprise you. Guess where it’s brewed?

Nope, not in Baltimore. It’s brewed in Royersford, PA at Sly Fox Brewing Company, and I was every bit as surprised as you are.

Chef Gregorio Martinez was working last night, and I simply couldn’t resist the call of autumn: Veal Autumn Stew ($15) was the most appealing thing to me on a still-stodgy menu (stodgy in terms of how it “reads”). However, the execution of this pleasant, peasant dish was anything but stodgy: large, bite-sized chunks of veal were mixed in with roasted root vegetables (turnip, carrot, onion), and served atop good, garlicky mashed potatoes (the fourth root vegetable) with a veal gravy reduction. What impressed me the most about this dish was the quality of the veal. This may not sound like much upon first thought, but if I were blindfolded, and took a bite of this meat, I’m fairly certain I would instantly recognize it as veal. Not chicken, or pork, or goat, or duck, or lamb, or some other type of beef, but veal.

Based on this small, but meaningful, sample, The Chesapeake Room is maintained right where it was: squarely in Italic, and right behind Montmartre. Nothing I saw on this evening led me to believe it should be otherwise; about the only nitpick I have is that it seemed like the kitchen was a bit slow in getting orders out, but that observation is based only on a couple of times when I looked around the room, so there may not be much to it.

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