Food & Drink

First Look at No Way Rosé in Federal Hill

Chef/owner Ashish Alfred gives us a tour of the bright space highlighting French cuisine and cocktails.

Visible from down the block, an exterior mural of a hot pink bottle spilling rainbow liquids beckons diners to 31 East Cross Street. Once inside, you’re immediately greeted by bright signage and lush, rosy blooms cascading down the wall from the second floor.

Pink booths throughout the dining room, plus larger-than-life portraits of late chefs Anthony Bourdain and Paul Bocuse, are just a few changes that the two-story brick building has endured since Chef Ashish Alfred acquired it last year, with plans to usher a new concept into one of Baltimore’s most cherished neighborhoods.

“If you walk around Federal Hill, there’s a lot of great restaurants, but it can get a little bit monotonous for somebody who’s looking for more grown up things to do,” says Alfred, the chef and owner of modern Parisian brasserie Duck Duck Goose, with locations in Fells Point, Washington, D.C., and Bethesda. “I wanted to build a place that I would want to hang out in.”

Inspired by his trips to upscale French party and brunch spot Bagatelle in New York City, as well as recent travels overseas to Paris and Madrid, Alfred says he hoped to bring a slice of European cafe culture back to Baltimore. After it became available last year, he settled in the former home of Bookmakers Cocktail Club to launch his latest dining destination: No Way Rosé

“I think the general consensus was that people felt [the building] was a little bit too dark,” Alfred says. “So, for us, a big goal was to bring in a lot of color and a lot of light to just make it feel really fun. We wanted to create a space where people could just feel relaxed and linger over wine and cheese. That was the idea—just to keep it lighthearted.”

Chef Ashish Alfred poses near the bar.
A seafood tower against the backdrop of the dining room's tribute to Anthony Bourdain.
A charcuterie selection offers duck prosciutto, Pâté de Campagne, wagyu bresaola, and wild boar saison sec.

Set to officially open on Wednesday, March 9, Alfred’s No Way Rosé—named, in part, as an homage to long-closed East Cross Street establishment No Way Jose (now One Star Country Club)—will serve French-inspired cuisine, inventive cocktails (the “Moulin Roux” blends sparkling wine with vodka, lime, and ginger) and, fittingly, rosé on tap.

Dishes such as escargot vol-au-vant with a sherry cream sauce and salmon tartare topped with sparkling salmon roe will sit atop mauve serving plates. Diners can also look forward to moules frites with bacon, sea scallop ceviche, house guacamole with Hackleback caviar, and a lemony linguine with clams. 

Unlike Duck Duck Goose, which is famous for a gruyere and blueberry jam-topped burger, dubbed the “DDG,” No Way Rosé will feature a fresh raw bar—something Alfred says he’s especially proud of, along with his Black Truffle Agnolotti with ricotta, parmesan, and crème frâiche.

“We worked really hard to try to recreate this thing,” he says, adding that it was a dish he sometimes ate twice daily while visiting France. “I think we got pretty close.”

The salmon tartare with smoked Crème fraiche and salmon roe.
The raw bar selection.
The escargot vol-au-vent and a cocktail.

Referencing his favorite Paris eateries, Alfred says that he wants No Way Rosé to become a place where everybody feels good. Sunday brunch will be a draw, with plans for contortionists, stilt walkers, and live DJs to enhance the mid-morning service.

“Sometimes you bounce around Fed Hill or you bounce around Fells Point, and some places can feel a little cliquey,” he says. “That’s not the case here. We’ve got something for everyone.”

In keeping with the inclusive mantra, the spot will offer a thoughtful zero-proof cocktail program, not unlike the lineup at Duck Duck Goose. 

Though most of the building's interior (which Alfred designed himself) has been reimagined, the team kept Bookmakers' purple velvet sofas upstairs.

Above all, when they enter the new space for the first time on Wednesday evening (don’t bother calling to make a reservation, all tables are first-come, first-served) Alfred says that he wants patrons to enjoy it to the fullest.

“For me, something really satisfying is coming out of the kitchen at like 7:30 or 8 o’clock at night,” he says, “and the lights are little bit too dark and music a little bit too loud. And somebody’s doing a happy dance at the table while the food’s arriving. That’s what I’m excited for.”