On any weekend night, Bel Air’s picturesque Main Street is teeming with diners and bar-hoppers looking for a convivial place to partake in libations and good eats. Until recently, their choices have been largely limited to spots known more for the former than the latter, and it’s no secret that the surrounding area offers chain restaurants and not much more.
Enter One Eleven Main, which opened last fall to add a fine-dining alternative to the mix. Owned by Richard Anderson and family—whose Richard’s Fish & Crabs is a Harford County mainstay—and helmed by executive chef Bryan Boessed, formerly of The Iron Bridge Wine Company, this charming storefront lends Main Street a welcome dash of serious food cred.
The owners have transformed a former deli into a pleasingly pretty spot for casual but elevated dining. Walnut tables, soft lighting, and creamy walls create a muted backdrop that lets the food take center stage. (Our only suggestion would be to add some white tablecloths for a touch more elegance.) There are craft cocktails and a thoughtful selection of wines, with a knowledgeable waitstaff to tell you all about them. In short, the makings of a sophisticated dining experience.
Boessed’s menu features fresh, seasonal takes on comfort food, geared to please a relatively wide swath of diners, both adventuresome and more traditional types. You won’t find cutting-edge cuisine here, but touches of vibrant, judiciously applied invention make for fun and satisfying dining.
Witness the three-beet salad, a lovely version of this requisite menu item. One Eleven’s is gorgeous to behold: Diced golden beets mix with deep green watercress, orange segments, spicy goat cheese, and walnuts atop an emulsion of red beets, while translucent slices of candy-striped chioggias decorate the plate. Similarly handsome (and unctuously delicious) was an appetizer of butter-poached pork cheek with creamy polenta and an unexpected spark of kimchi to cut the richness. Four baked oysters arrived bubbling with a topping of blue cheese, guanciale butter, and bacon, while whole tentacles of grilled octopus are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, dressed with citrus dressing.
Our entrees were almost as good, but otherwise exemplary beef short ribs were marred by oversalted mashed potatoes, and the Hoppin’ John accompanying the sauteed wild rockfish lacked flavor. That said, the thick filets of fish were perfectly cooked and the short ribs melted in the mouth. A wholly successful bacon-wrapped wild game meatloaf (boar, bison, and venison) came with “salted potatoes” that were, oddly enough, not too salty at all. And dessert—a rich, custardy vanilla “poudin”—was perfect.
Bel Air, you’ve got yourself a real find.
ONE ELEVEN MAIN 111 S. Main St., Bel Air, 443-900-8027.
HOURS Tues.-Thurs. 4:30-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 4:30-10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
CUISINE Upscale comfort food.
ATMOSPHERE Casual fine-dining.
PRICES Appetizers: $8-15; entrees: $24-36; desserts: $8.