Food & Drink

Now Playing at Creative Alliance

The Marquee Lounge merits its own billing.

Sure, it’s convenient to stop at the Marquee Lounge for a beer and a
bite to eat before or after a show at Creative Alliance at the Patterson
in Highlandtown. But you don’t really need a performance as an excuse
to sidle up to the bar or take a seat at one of the restaurant’s bare
wood tables. The small, lively bistro is a destination unto itself. For a
short time, the Hamilton restaurant Clementine managed the space,
installing one of its former sous chefs in the kitchen. When the
restaurateurs pulled out of the Creative Alliance, chef Jeremy Price
stayed behind to oversee the seasonal, local offerings. And we’re glad
he did. He’s constructed a tight, interesting menu with several items
that have Asian influences. The food here is unfussy, yet exhilarating.
The banh-mi sandwich, for example, is a hearty version of the Vietnamese
staple with Berkshire pork belly, silky chicken-liver pâté, house-made
sausages, and kimchi vegetables stuffed into a crusty baguette that’s
been slathered with chili-lime mayo.

Light fare ranges from
wild-mushroom pancakes and sautéed kale to Korean Buffalo wings. We fell
in love with the “char-cu-te-rie,” an array of house-smoked duck
breast, more of that pâté, a house-made pork terrine, a dollop of
excellent blue cheese, house-made pickles, and enough toasted-bread
slices for all of the parts. The blackened chicken nachos are easily a
table snack: A pile of locally made Tortilleria Sinaloa nachos blanketed
with pickled-jalapeño cheese, pico de gallo, and crème fraîche.

night we visited, there were three entrees—chicken pot pie, a veggie
noodle bowl, and a grilled Creekstone Farms steak with chimichurri
sauce, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables. We’ll definitely go back
another night for a full dinner.

The desserts are as homey and
earnest as the savory choices. Though the flourless chocolate cake was a
temptation, we opted for a good-old-fashioned carrot cake that we’re
sure was baked with tender, lovin’ care.

The tiny room was packed
the night we visited. It’s a cozy environment with dark brick walls and
wood and a bar that basks in a painted mural’s reds, oranges, and
yellows—a gorgeous setting to enjoy cocktails, wine, or craft brews. And
the bartenders and servers are as congenial as the place.

restaurant entrance is off the Creative Alliance’s lobby. And while the
galleries and stage are a draw, the Marquee Lounge certainly deserves
its own starring role.