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Oct 25, 2006 03:54 PM

Need a jeans-appropriate restaurant in Baltimore (or EC/Columbia)

Fellow 'hounds, help me out here if you can. I need a restaurant in Baltimore, or between baltimore and Columbia, that meets the following criteria for a dinner with my parents and my girlfriend:
1) Jeans are perfectly appropriate attire for both men and women
2) Can't be primarily a bar or pub as there are extreme smoke sensitivities
3) Nothing you would consider "ethnic" including italian
4) Ideally, would have appeal for a "meat and potatoes" crowd without being too boring
5) Seafood is OK, but can't be primarily finfish.

Sorry for all the criteria, I am trying to cater to diverse interests here. We have been to Mama's a bunch for this purpose and I have been instructed to find somewhere new this time. One place that came to mind was Birches. Another was Brewer's Art but I'm not sure if they're cool with jeans there as I haven't been. Any other suggestions greatly appreciated.


Just to clarify: we're not talking sneakers/t-shirt with the jeans. Casual shoes and polo / button down shirts (or sweaters) for the guys, and whatever the approximate equivalent would be for females.

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  1. Birches would fit the bill, as long as you/they don't mind having to walk through the bar to get to the dining rooms. Though I don't recall it being particularly smoky.

    That said, I recently ate there with my girlfriend and her parents, coincidentally, and had a terribly average meal. The kitchen must have got slammed because we waited close to an hour between apps and mains. And my pork loin was definitely not worth the wait. Happily the other entrees tasted better. But we all left a little disappointed.

    As for Brewer's Art (dining room), I wouldn't wear a t-shirt and sneaks there, but I don't thing jeans are innapropriate.

    Peter's Inn is smoke free now, isn't it? Kind of a gamble with the small menu, but it just might work.

    The only other thing that comes to mind is Helen's Garden, but I haven't been there in a LONG time.

    1. Howard County is a great bet for you - there's no smoking in every restaurant - and those that do have smoking are required to have a seperate ventilation system for their seperate smoking room. Folks can still smoke, but the rest of us who are bothered by smoke can go into any restaurant without worry!

      However, all of my favorite places to eat generally fall into your taboo category of ethnic. You might enjoy Kelsey's Irish Pub - is that the wrong sort of ethnic? - with great food. The dining room is smoke free, and seems like the type of place you are looking for.

      The Ellicott Mills Brewing Company might fit your bill, though I have been less than pleased with their basic menu. It's really quite standard - you know you'll get a decent meal - but nothing spectacular. However, it IS a meat-and-potatoes kind of place and the beer is great.

      I personally like the following places, but they might be a bit too ethnic or adventerous for this meal:

      Cafe de Paris in Columbia

      Aida Bistro in Columbia

      Iron Bridge Wine Companyin Columbia

      I love all of them, and jeans (as long as you gussy them up!) should be fine at all of these places.

      1. Okay, I just lost a longer post, but here are my suggestions.

        Claddagh in Canton would fit your bill. They have really good, well, meat dishes and dining room is separate from bar.

        Two other places that serve comfort food type of things are Copra in downtown (upscale take on comfort food; I used to go all the time and really enjoyed it every time) and Parkside (menu is pretty standard; food is good but certainly not spectacular).

        La Cazuela has a great steak dish and even though its Ecuadorian, it's pretty accessible IMO.

        Waterfront is a much better than bar food, but you have to walk through their bar to go upstairs to the dining room.

        Finally, there's a new restaurant downtown called Milton's Grill. It's evidently, ribs, meat, chicken, etc. Here's an article:

        1. You would definitely be fine in jeans and a nice shirt at Brewer's Art. That's a good choice.

          Actaully, many of Baltimore's "nicer" restaurants would be ok for that dress. I would think, for example, jeans and a nice shirt would be fine for the Bicycle and Chameleon Cafe.

          All three of those are not "ethnic" or smokey.