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Iron Bridge Wine Co.

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buzzwinkle Nov 9, 2007 08:41 AM

I'm really curious about others experiences at Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, MD. I rarely make an opinion on one visit, but this may a first for me. We went last night, which, unfortunately, was a wine tasting night and the place was packed. No problem, we diligently waited our turn and were seated after an hour.

After that it just goes downhill. Service was less than optimal and other diners, seated near us and after us, were receiving their appetizers and main courses long before us. We rarely saw our wait person. While our appetizer was fun and interesting, the main courses were less than desired. "Cheesesteak" is a filet with a side of mac n cheese. Good concept. Horrible mac n cheese. It was as if the chef had mixed cheese whiz with elbows and then added water.

A positive note, the wine was very good. We are not afficionados, but our server was able to recommend two wonderful reds which we enjoyed quite a bit.

I'm looking for a reason to go back, but it sure won't be based on our experience from last night. Anyone have some good feedback for us?

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    MrsWheatie RE: buzzwinkle Nov 9, 2007 09:49 AM

    We found Iron Bridge meh. Nice selection and handy. But we enjoy going to Annabells in Ellicott City when we aren't in the mood to dip into our stash.
    http://www.annabellsfinewine.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: MrsWheatie
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      ekillinger RE: MrsWheatie Dec 23, 2007 07:10 PM

      Fan of Annabell's as well. Not the mob scene that is Iron Bridge. Not as much in terms of food selection but have a great selection of cheeses that can be paired with the wines and usually a desert or two. The owner, Adam, is knowledgable and always has a few selections from off the beaten track.

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      jrussd RE: buzzwinkle Nov 9, 2007 10:40 AM

      I've had similar experiences at Iron Bridge, although none as bad as you described. The food really is mediocre. You go for the wine and the atmosphere and to just hang out, especially if you're with a small group of friends. If you're looking for something else, like a night out or a cozy place for a really good meal, Iron Bridge really isn't for you.

      6 Replies
      1. re: jrussd
        sistereurope RE: jrussd Nov 9, 2007 11:21 AM

        I always forget about the Iron Bridge - I've been meaning to go there, but now it looks like we won't bother.
        To those of you who live on the westside - do you, like us, find yourself going into Baltimore all the time? We live in Oella, so we're less than 5 minutes from downtown Ellicott City. But we just don't like anything there enough to become regulars...Ellicott Mills has ok beer but we've always found the food bleh. We haven't been to Jordan's - it seems expensive (and we are allergic to chains anyway)...we found the new Rumor Mill rather depressing (it was SO empty the 3 times we were there - food wasn't too bad, but we're not rushing back there) We haven't been to Cacao Lane in years - is it worth re-visiting? I know that a lot of people like Terisguel's, but again, that's not exactly a regular go-to kind of place. To give you a better idea, we love Peter's Inn (it's our go-to place), Tapas Teatro, Brewer's Art, The Helmand, The Bicycle, Henninger's, Petit Louis...and our favorite hang-out bar is the Wharf Rat (the one in Fells Point). Anything we're overlooking in this neck of the woods? Thanks!!

        1. re: sistereurope
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          jkosnett RE: sistereurope Nov 9, 2007 12:51 PM

          No

          1. re: sistereurope
            JonParker RE: sistereurope Nov 9, 2007 02:21 PM

            Cafe de Paris isn't far. It's really good French, but bistro, not fine dining like Tersiguel's. The prix fixe is something like $40 a person for appetizer, entree and dessert, but if that's too much food or money you can get out for less ordering a la carte. They do best at the basics -- the duck confit or the steak frites are yummy. I really like this place, and it's probably the best in that area.

            Is Rumor Mill the place that took Side Street Cafe's old space on Main Street?

            Of course, I was presented with the same problem you had, and solved it by moving to Federal Hill, so you might consider that as well.

            1. re: JonParker
              sistereurope RE: JonParker Nov 9, 2007 03:25 PM

              Thanks for reminding me of Cafe de Paris...we discovered it this past summer and really liked it a lot. The prix fixe is an excellent deal, the food reminded us of a Parisian bistro, and the owner (I think it was the owner) gave us a warm greeting at the door, allowing my hubby to practice his French. It's time to go back soon!!

              Yes, the Rumor Mill is where Sidestreet's used to be. Interesting fusion kind of menu, but as I said, zero atmosphere and really immature service. Food was uneven - some things were really good, others not so. Overall the food was just OK...maybe it will pick up, because we were excited when we first heard about it.

              So I guess that we'll continue to trek downtown. It's just a shame that EC doesn't have a boatload of chowhound-worthy places!! Believe me, I'd have no problem moving to the big city, but my farmer wanna-be husband would never give up his big garden and his chickens!!! (the eggs do kick a*** , I must say:)

              1. re: sistereurope
                JonParker RE: sistereurope Nov 9, 2007 04:10 PM

                I hate to sound like a shill for the place, or an insider, neither of which is true, but Erik Rochard (the owner) treats everyone like his best friend, even on their first visit. He's got customer service down to an art, which wouldn't make up for mediocre food. Fortunately it's good -- not transcendent, but darned good. I go like once a year, and every time I wonder why i don't make it more often.

                I never thought much of Side Streets. I think that area is ripe for a moderately priced, really good restaurant. Tersiguel's and Jordans are quite expensive (and Jordan's has gotten some really bad reviews here). I think one reason I'm such a fan of Cafe de Paris is because it's the one place that I didn't have to say "it's not bad for around here." I can't think of another place in EC or Columbia that i don't have to judge comparatively.

            2. re: sistereurope
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              dining with doc RE: sistereurope Dec 15, 2007 07:25 AM

              Jessie Wong's Asean Bistro (high end pan asian, get the lamb chops, whole fish or any special of the day, piano player on weekends)
              O.Z. steakhouse: pretty good
              Trapeeze: also good
              Cafe de Paris: at times good
              I like Iron Bridge and have always had good meals. We meet our Baltimore friends since it is equal distance from DC. It is fun, it is loud, you usually have a long wait. We start with a nice Pino Noir and the cheese platter and go from there. Usually by the time we sit, we are feeling no pain. I like to sit at the common table in the back. It is fun to see what everyone around you orders and can meet interesting people

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            stacylyn RE: buzzwinkle Nov 10, 2007 05:34 AM

            I always find that the ethnic places in Columbia are best. The places we frequent aren't necessarily the same type of atmosphere that you may be looking for, though.
            Sushi King
            Pho Dat Than
            House of India
            Bangkok Garden

            You get the idea.

            I like Cafe De Paris, too....and wonder why I always forget about it as a good option!!

            As for Iron Bridge....I like lunch there. Dinner is ok. The wine is good, as is the atmosphere (although, the tables are SO tight) in the main room.

            2 Replies
            1. re: stacylyn
              sistereurope RE: stacylyn Nov 10, 2007 06:47 AM

              Yes, we like Sushi King a lot (and go there whenever we crave sushi. Everyone is really nice there!), and we also like Mango Grove for Indian. I was thinking of something like what Jon described - a really good moderately priced kind of "neighborhood" place - like Chameleon Cafe, which I forgot to mention in our favorite kind of places list. We like CC a LOT, but It's on the other side of town!

              1. re: sistereurope
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                tapas gal RE: sistereurope Dec 6, 2007 09:15 AM

                OK - I am replying to your previous comment (about 4 up) but wanted to comment here as well...hopefully not confusing!
                1st - Jordan's is a chain? I had no idea... I haven't eaten there in over a year but I certainly didn't seem chain like to me whatsoever... I have always loved it- the tuna tartar is wonderful. And the only place I will get a steak now. I justed moved out of Catonsville to Lauraville so I am missing some of my westside restaurants. A place you could try is LeeLynns in Ellicott City (http://www.leelynns.com/). Petit Louis, Tapas Teatro and Chamelon Cafe are 3 of my favs also so if that helps with the recommendation validity! Oh, and... I live 3 blocks from Chameleon so that helps with the loss of some of my Catonsville favs!

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              jmaounis RE: buzzwinkle Nov 10, 2007 06:29 PM

              We've been there many times for lunch, Saturday or Sunday. Never had dinner. The wine is the star. Food used to be better. Now it seems hit or miss. Never bad, just not up to what it should given the wines and the potential. Pastas are often good. But the wines are really the star.

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                jkosnett RE: buzzwinkle Nov 21, 2007 07:56 PM

                I seem to have read somewhere that Iron Bridge is opening a second location in Fairfax County. Anyone know if this is true?

                1 Reply
                1. re: jkosnett
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                  chriscatva RE: jkosnett Dec 3, 2007 01:03 PM

                  They opened a second location in Warrenton (Fauquier County) a few months ago. I've been a few times. Service has been rather iffy -- sometimes okay, sometimes less so, never great. Food has been generally pretty good but not great. Wine selection is interesting, and is my main reason for going. The restaurant is extremely attractive and a pleasant place to hang out with a friend and drink some wine. It's kind of pricey overall, though.

                  It would be hard to tell from their web site that this location exists, and it offers a mailing list that only has info on Columbia events. Theoretically there's a separate mailing list for the Warrenton store, but I've signed up for it and never received anything. They need to get their act together.

                2. phatface RE: buzzwinkle Nov 26, 2007 11:14 AM

                  Ah! Iron Bridge. The food used to be a little better, the service too. Now most of the wait staff (save Nate behind the bar) seem to have developed a laissez-faire attitude.
                  We were there a few weeks ago, and what struck me was the way the wine costs for bottles and glasses have gone through the roof. The monthly wine special was a fair bargain, and now you can find the same wines at full retail for less than the IBW Co. sale price. The wine and atmosphere is the thing, just get there for early happy hour and hang out at the bar, or grab the back corner four-top behind the bar and chill.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: phatface
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                    SGI RE: phatface Dec 11, 2007 08:19 AM

                    Wow. I'm am really surprised to hear about such a terrible experience at Iron Bridge. I love it there and have had a lot of great experiences - for dinner for two and also with larger groups. However, I did go recently for brunch and was disappointed ---> the menu and the place lit up by sunlight doesn't quite fit. What I love about it is the browsing for bottles, lingering at the bar and munching on a cheese plate while waiting for a table, and meeting people. It's hands-down one of my fave places in/around Baltimore, but perhaps things are changing.

                    Cafe de Paris is also great and I understand that Iron Bridge and Cafe de Paris tend to swap employees. I just went to Annabell's for the 1st time two Fridays ago and really liked it, but you can't have a meal there. It does offer wonderful cheese plates, though.

                    sistereurope - don't forget about Indian Delight (BYOB!) on Frederick Rd. or the Candlelight Inn. Candlelight Inn might make you feel like you should order a Shirley Temple, but it's nice and quiet and the nostalgic feel to it can be quite cozy. I can't rave about the food, but I also can't say it's terrible. I can't seem to get into Cacao Lane but perhaps there are others on the blog that share a different opinion. The restaurant does have a nice outdoor seating area for the warmer months. It's certainly worth a try if you haven't been there in a while. And, I completely agree that the area is ripe for a moderately priced neighborhood restaurant like a Henninger's, Peter's Inn, Bicycle, etc. Dare to dream!!!

                    1. re: SGI
                      sistereurope RE: SGI Dec 12, 2007 02:12 PM

                      Yes, SGI, I dare to dream! I grew up in Catonsville so I'm kinda over the Candlelight...and haven't been to Cacao Lane in ages. Maybe I'll have to give it another try and report back (I do order out from Indian Delight on occasion, although I prefer Mango Grove in Columbia). Haven't checked out Annabell's - I like to looks of it though...wish they offered more than cheese...
                      If you discover any other "hidden gems" out this way, let us know!

                  2. s
                    sarbuze RE: buzzwinkle Dec 12, 2007 03:16 PM

                    Regarding Iron Bridge: The wait is always too long, the service is generally just "OK", plus parking can be tough on a busy night. The food has always been fine and the wine list is obviously quite good...

                    Regarding Cafe de Paris - Excellent place. Here's a recent review on the place (that I wrote):
                    http://foodandwineblog.com/?p=175

                    1. Pool Boy RE: buzzwinkle Dec 14, 2007 05:39 AM

                      Ironbridge is an OK place. I agree with the comments that the service is average at best, the food is mediocre to average and so on. But the wine choices are decent and there are some cherries to pick there if you look a little. And the space is fun and it's easy to hang out there. It's best to get there before or after prime time I think, as I hate waiting and I generally don't like places that don't take reservations.... Been there a few times total only, so your mileage may vary.

                      Cafe de Paris is a great choice. While the food is never amazing, it is almost always good (although a trip this past week there where I tried veal short ribs left me wanting a bit -- but the soup and dessert were great). Eric is a great host and treats us like family eben though we only make it there 2-3 times a year.

                      www.roguefood.com

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