On Thursday, I attended an opening party for Oliver Speck's Eats & Drinks, in the former space of Vino Rosina in Harbor East. Under the same management and chef (former Top Chef contestant Jesse Sandlin), Oliver Speck's aims to be a more casual BBQ joint, rather than another New American bistro, which we've covered.
The space itself hasn't changed much and still retains exposed brick, wooden wine shelves, and chalkboard walls. But a more casual vibe became obvious in the details—new flat-screen TVs above the bar, staff wearing baseball T-shirts, and fun magnetic letters on the vent hood of the exposed kitchen.
We tried a couple of the cocktails, which all seem to have a whimsical, down-home vibe. Our favorite had to be the Ziggy Piggy, pictured, which was garnished with candied bacon (!) and featured scotch, Domaine de Canton, muddled plum and mint, ginger simple syrup, and ginger beer. A lot of scotch tends to be too strong for me, but the sweet/spicy/aromatic flavors were such great counterpoints (and the bacon was a lovely added bonus).
We also recommend trying the Maine Mule (their take on a mule, served in a Mason jar, made with organic potato vodka from Maine) and Life's a Peach with Bulleit Rye, peach, lemon, lime, and brown-sugar syrup. Of course, we also got to nibble on some food, including some extremely crunchy and salty pork cracklins, horseradish-heavy deviled eggs, and a pulled pork slider topped with vinegary, house-made barbecue sauce.
Though it's early, we suspect that this new, fun concept will stick around for a while. For a full restaurant review, look out for our November issue.