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Friday, March 17, 2017

The Elephant

Written by  Richard Finger
Surpassing pachyderm-sized expectations! Surpassing pachyderm-sized expectations!

The Elephant
924 North Charles Street, Baltimore
443-447-4848 • theelephantbaltimore.com

Nick had always told me about his memories of The Brass Elephant. He was excited to see renovations heralding its reopening as The Elephant after more than five years of closure. We’d received a gift card to dine there for our wedding and were looking forward to the visit. The idea was to enjoy a nice, quiet dinner for two, and spend some quality time as a couple.

We were warmly greeted as we walked in, and seated in the main dining salon overlooking Charles Street. We were mesmerized by our surroundings, the high ceilings, the elephant-inspired light fixtures, the pearlescent painted walls and trim. Overall, there was much attention paid to the details, and for Nick, as an architect, he took notice. There was a feeling of elegance as almost all the tables surrounding us were filled with patrons wearing refined attire. Our server quickly brought to us our drinks, I decided on a glass of California Nielson Vineyards Pinot Noir ($14), while Nick stuck to his favorite, a Manhattan. It was enjoyable to relax, talk unobtrusively, and discard life’s many stressors, even if just for a moment or two.

The Elephant dinner menu offers a sufficent variety of options that will appeal to almost any taste, whether it veers toward red meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetarian. For a starter, I selected a bowl of the pumpkin bisque, served with a dollop of sour cream, while Nick decided on the lobster bisque. As I write this, I am using my sensory recollection, as the pumpkin bisque was absolutely fantastic, as was Nick’s lobster bisque. Both soups were served with warm bread and butter. Other selections on the starter menu included Spiced Meat Balls, Grilled Octopus, and a Duck Pear Salad.

For main meals, Nick selected the Cedar Plank Cod ($33), which is served with mashed potatoes, candied brussel sprouts, and herb butter, while I had the grilled beef tenderloin ($35), served with potato puree, cauliflower gratin, sautéed spinach, and demi glaze. The Cod dish was one of a few options included on that evening’s wood plank menu, as there were also lamb, seafood, and flat bread meals. On the “Singles” section of the menu, the tenderloin was one of four choices, with the others being a duck breast and seafood options. Both meals were well prepared, creative without being pretentious, and unquestionably delightful. The Pinot Noir and tenderloin pairing seemed to be a wonderful match.

While we ate leisurely, the owner came over to our table and engaged us in discussion. She was very genuine when asking if we were enjoying our evening, not only asking us about our meals. After our conversation, I had picked up a card situated nearby the front entrance explaining the history of The Elephant, which dates back to the early 1800s. A descendent of the Howard family had built a residence there as a starter home in the 1850s. The location served as a residence to several families until the 1920s, when the space had been converted to an antique furniture showroom. In the 1970s through 2009, the space was used as a restaurant called The Brass Elephant, and now, in its current form, is known as The Elephant.

Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed our evening there, more than surpassing our expectations and the hype. We were glad to have made a reservation for a busy weekend evening, and suggest doing the same. The menu does change from time to time, and can be found on their website. The Elephant gets a resounding endorsement from us, and as spring is soon to be here, what a wonderful time to go out for a night in town.

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