Hip to be Square

Inside the Hotel Revival, Square Meal is a good deal.

Henry Hong - December 2018

Review: Square Meal

Inside the Hotel Revival, Square Meal is a good deal.

Henry Hong - December 2018

-Photography by Kate Grewal

After a flurry of publicity upon opening, in particular for offering a $21 version of the Baltimore lunch mainstay “chicken box,” Square Meal, the ground-level casual eatery in the recently opened Revival hotel, appears to have tightly pulled back the reins. The menu has been condensed to a short list of fairly straightforward breakfast offerings and salads and sandwiches for lunch, and guests now order at the counter before taking a seat. What hasn’t changed is the fact that the food, although seemingly mundane, is coming from a legit, chef-driven kitchen.

A few clues can be found on the breakfast menu. Take, for instance, the biscuits and gravy—the biscuits are freshly made, tender, and fluffy, while the gravy has a beautiful rusty hue and surprising complexity, thanks to the addition of Merguez sausage and goat cheese. A seasonal frittata is loaded with roasted vegetables and dressed in creamy Chihuahua cheese, a bright tomatillo salsa, and cooling lime-scented crema. Even the trusty breakfast sandwich gets treated to house-made sausage, making its $6 price tag a decent deal. (This is a hotel, after all).

The lunch menu is about as terse as it gets, with several salads and a few matter-of-factly named sandwiches (“Ham and Swiss,” for example) all served on ciabatta, along with some sides such as chips and potato salad. The kale salad has anchovies and Parmesan listed in the description, which is the only indicator that it’s a Caesar. But then it arrives, and the kale is carefully cut with nary a stem in the pile, the high-quality anchovies are of the tart, marinated white variety, the croutons are at once crunchy and chewy, and the dressing is perfectly balanced.

The cryptic “Spicy Chicken” is actually a deep-fried breast served on that aforementioned ciabatta, complete with dill pickles. Despite its heft, the sandwich remains juicy while staying crisp and flavorful all the way through—no doubt owing to a thorough brining. The veggie burger here is also something special, as it is eggplant-based with peppers, carrots, onions, and oats added in. This makes for a nicely browned surface encasing a soft, moist interior with sweetness and smoke from the eggplant and satisfying textural variation and background savory notes from the other ingredients.

To complete the cafe experience, Square Meal delivers excellent coffee drinks, although, to be fair, using beans from local roaster Ceremony Coffee makes the job that much easier. Along with espresso, lattes, and permutations like the flat white and long black, nitro cold brew is on the menu, as is a small selection of seasonal drink specials with ingredients such as red wine or coconut simple syrup and toasted pumpkin seeds. Even the coffee has a chef’s touch. With its new pricing structure that’s easier on the wallet, Square Meal proves that you don’t have to pay a lot for good food—the infamous chicken box was a mere bump in the road.

The-Scoop.png#asset:37797

Square Meal 612 Cathedral St., 410-727-7101. HOURS Daily: Breakfast 7-10:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. PRICES $4-14. AMBIANCE Clubby.





You May Also Like


Food & Drink

Radical Growth

As Red Emma’s turns 15, it has become a model for a number of worker co-ops in the city.

Food & Drink

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Ranch dressing is still trending.

Food & Drink

Canton's Raw Bar and Raw & Refined Can Be Hard to Tell Apart

The overlaps run even deeper than the comically similar names.


In Good Taste

Local Bread Subscriptions Are Making Fresh Loaves More Accessible Than Ever

These pre-paid methods are the best thing on the market since, well, sliced bread.

On The Town

Farmacy Brings a True Farm Brewery Experience to Baltimore County

Located on a working horse farm, the facility uses ingredients straight from the fields.

Food & Drink

Local Flavor Live Podcast: Maryland Crab Soup vs. Cream of Crab

Plus, Union Collective gets a winery, a day in the life at Tagliata, and our best bites this week.

-Photography by Kate Grewal

Connect With Us

Most Read


The Orioles Aren’t Moving Out of Town, But They Have a Long Way To Go: Putting a wrap on relocation rumors and the O’s predictable 2019 season.

Boys' Latin Honors Military History with In-School Museum: At the Roland Park private school, wartime memorabilia forges lasting personal connections.

Scenes from Congressman Cummings’ Funeral at New Psalmist Baptist Church: Mourners share memories of the Baltimore leader and civil rights advocate.

What to Know About the Maryland Cycling Classic Coming September 2020: For starters, Baltimore's pro cycling event will be more than 100 miles long.

Miller Steps Down as Maryland Senate President; Baltimore's Bill Ferguson Tapped to Succeed: Longest serving Senate president in state history has been battling cancer.