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


In Good Taste

Donna's Cafe To Close in The Village of Cross Keys

The beloved restaurant serves its final meal this Sunday.

In Good Taste

Juice Bars to Keep You Feeling Fresh in the New Year

New smoothie and fruit juice spots are cropping up left and right.

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Zeke’s Coffee; Bmore Licks; The Hoof Cafe; Remington Wine Co.

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.


Food & Drink

Disco Fever

Italian Disco hits the right notes.

On The Town

Where to Drink and Sing Your Way Through the Holidays

Ugly sweater shenanigans and merry-oke nights will get you into the spirit.

On The Town

Celebrate Ravens Playoff Run at These Bars and Tailgates

Drink specials and purple parties happening this wild-card weekend.

-Photography by Kate Grewal

Connect With Us

Most Read


Baltimore Museum of Art Has Rare “Sold Out” Day, Thanks to John Waters: Hundreds line up to see the Waters retrospective before it closes.

The Gavel Goes Back to Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi of Little Italy: Daughter of former Baltimore mayor becomes first House Speaker to regain position in six decades.

Why Baltimore Restaurant Week Feels More Important Than Ever: Despite recent closures, industry looks forward to starting 2019 on a high note.

Women Legislators Emerge in Record Numbers: Nonprofit Emerge Maryland identifies and trains women seeking political office in the state—and it’s working.

Tavern Talk: The White Oak Tavern delights in Ellicott City.