This weekend we visited The Reserve, which dare I say, may very well be Federal Hill’s new answer to the much missed Bicycle. Don’t let the young crowd, who seem to choose Miller Light as there drink of choice scare you…the Reserve is not just another Federal Hill bar. With a creative menu, eclectic (and often outrageous) specials menu and an elegant decor and atmosphere, this place is different. When you walk in you notice the beautiful dark wood and sophisticated décor. The bar is gigantic and tables are available to either grab a drink or a full meal. I suggest you sit down and do the latter.
The Reserve features two bars, one very large one in the front and another in the back where you can look through a pane glass to view the kitchen. There are also several tables throughout the bar giving groups the ability to eat together.
Typically when you go to any bar establishment in Federal Hill you expect a few burgers, sandwiches and an occasional seafood item. The Reserve has raised the notched offering upscale food in a casual way. I mean how many places do you know that serve Bison, Kangaroo, Quail, Blowfish and Wild Boar?
We started out the night with Crab Dip made with Brie in a Pumpernickel bread bowl. You would think that there is too much going on, but it was awesome. The Brie and Pumpernickel were a perfect match and lumps of crab meat were mixed throughout the savory dipping sauce! The bread bowl was big enough to feed all of us comfortably, with extra bread on the side. Of course we were so excited to get our appetizers I forgot to take pictures of them
We also indulged the Grilled Calamari that came with a Tomato and Arugula Salad and fresh Mozzarella. The calamari was awesome, tentacles and all! It was well seasoned with a great smoky flavor that paired well with the mozzarella and salad.
For dinner I got a Grilled Corn Meal Crusted Red Grouper and Nathan had the Wild Boar Lollipops (one of the many nightly specials) Our dear friends Trey and Angela had the Lobster Ravioli and the Japanese Sampler, which was also listed on the nightly specials.
My fish was great, crusty on the outside and moist in the middle, with a potato and vegetable hash underneath. There were also capers to give it that little salt kick I always crave with seafood. The presentation was beautiful, and definitely something you don’t expect to get as “bar-food”.
Nathan’s Wild-Boar lollipops were the best dish of the night and had that flavor can only be derived from a medium rare wild-boar. Cooked as requested at medium and to perfection these medallions were a dish I almost regretted not getting myself. The meal was paired with some crisp asparagus and piped mashed potatoes. The consistency of the potatoes was a little thick and sticky, but it worked well with the rest of the dish…so we assumed it was on purpose.
Angela’s lobster ravioli was not only beautiful but also very delicious. I’m not the biggest fan of lobster, thinking it lacks flavor, but The Reserve has changed my mind. The ravioli appeared to be half egg noodle, and possibly half squid ink, Once again, A+ for presentation.
Trey’s dish was the most unique. It featured ahi tuna, fugu (blowfish) and a Kobe Beef carpaccio which was delicately laid over top a bed of truffled risotto. This is what I like about the Reserve. The specials are unique and push the edge. The first time we stopped by, we saw Kangaroo tenderloin on the menu. The special menu could be the strongest part of the Reserve, but the regular menu delivers as well.
Of course if you’re looking for some basic “bar-food” The Reserve also offers sandwiches and burgers, but all with a twist. We saw an order of the bison strip steak come by our table and it smelled and looked incredible. Upon recommendation of Chef Matt, “If you see something on the specials menu you like, get it! I’m constantly changing the specials, and you just never know if it’s going to be there the next time you come back.”
We will definitely come back to The Reserve, and take full advantage of the valet parking (which in Federal Hill is a genius move!) The drinks were strong and tasty. The food was unique and delicious, and the staff was friendly. I can’t wait to see all the new developments and additions that are in store for The Reserve. It just may start to be one of my new favorite places to go eat in Federal Hill.