Food & Drink

Twisted Up

A Mediterranean spot in Fells Point shakes up the bar scene.

How’s this for a twist: Nestled among Fells Point’s bars and late night takeout joints on Broadway is a restaurant that aims to serve thoughtful Mediterranean cuisine to a crowd more interested in braised lamb shanks than Budweisers.

So far, the restaurant called Twist is succeeding. Open for more than a year, the bistro has thrived on repeat business from locals. So said Antonio, our charming host who answered, “I’m always awesome,” when we asked how he was doing on a recent Monday evening visit. It may come as a shock to the systems of those used to eating out in the neighborhood known for its nightlife, but there’s no bar (Twist is BYOB), and just one TV in the small front dining room (there’s a larger dining room in the back). Two Bugatti posters adorn the walls, hinting at executive chef Jose Molina’s elegant approach to cooking. Everyone should start with a meze plate, a generous helping of baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, hummus, feta, and olive tapenade that provides a diversity of flavors (and at $9, is an incredible value).

The tabbouleh, airy and refreshing, particularly popped. Crab and avocado salad, accompanied by bread sticks, was light yet complex, with a hint of onion adding a kick. The Moroccan lamb sausage, served over roasted eggplant with yogurt harissa sauce, was pleasingly spicy but maybe a bit gamey for tamer palates. Along with some standards like grilled chicken wings and crispy calamari, a trio of quesadillas, including a Greek version with spinach, feta, and olives, rounded out the first course selections.

No fewer than nine sandwiches, including eggplant panini, and burgers are available for lunch and dinner, but Molina’s talents shine best in the entrees. The Maine lobster ravioli, topped with brown butter sage sauce, was rich but not overpoweringly so. It’s one of several pasta offerings that include a gluten-free primavera in a creamy tomato sauce with asparagus and peas. The steak frites was less stellar. Although it was pink in the middle, the meat was overly chewy and a tad bland.

We’ve yet to try Twist’s popular brunch, but the menu is extensive and features options like chocolate-chip blueberry pancakes and Madagascar vanilla French toast. If they’re anything like the chocolate fondant, made in-house, that we nibbled for dessert, we’re sure that they’re terrific. Antonio included a complimentary dollop of caramel sea salt gelato, and when he left the check two bottles of water accompanied it. Small gestures, sure, but ones indicative of the high regard in which Twist holds its customers that will keep them—and us—coming back.

›› Twist 723 S. Broadway, 410-522-4000. Hours: Sun.-Thu. 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Appetizers: $6-12; sandwiches: $11-14; entrees: $14-25.