A real gem in the heart of Bel Air

One Eleven Main’s food, ser­vice make a first-class ex­pe­ri­ence

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

There’s an ex­tra kick from en­coun­ter­ing an in­ti­mate restau­rant where the food, like the staff, ex­udes per­son­al­ity; a place where you feel so wel­come you can en­vi­sion be­com­ing a reg­u­lar. That’s what hap­pened when I stepped for the first time into One Eleven Main in the heart of Bel Air.

This charmer, which opened in the fall of 2015, has a straight­for­ward, classy look, with lots of wood adding warmth (the restau­rant’s dated, bare-bones web­site leads you to ex­pect a much drab­ber ex­pe­ri­ence). The feel­ing here is at once tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary, an apt com­bi­na­tion for a place fo­cus­ing on new Amer­i­can cui­sine.

On a weeknight visit, seated at a win­dow ta­ble with a view of a mod­er­ately bustling South Main Street, our meal went from strength to strength. It be­came quickly, abun­dantly clear that ex­ec­u­tive chef Bryan Boes­sel, who joined the restau­rant in 2016, has a flair for the things that mat­ter — tex­ture, fla­vor, pro­por­tion, pre­sen­ta­tion.

Mind you, it didn’t hurt that we hap­pened to pick a day when One Eleven Main of­fers what has to be one of the re­gion’s great deals in dining. On Tues­day and Wed­nes­day evenings, you can get three cour­ses for $39, just a few dol­lars more than the reg­u­lar price for en­trees. All bot­tles of wine are half-off on those nights, too.

We would have gladly paid full price for ev­ery­thing (in­clud­ing the vel­vety, reg­u­larly $75 Frank Fam­ily Pe­tite Si­rah we sa­vored with din­ner), but, hey, a bar­gain’s a bar­gain.

Things got off to a strong start from the chewy, al­most sour­dough-y bread, not to men­tion ex­pertly con­cocted mar­ti­nis, which sig­naled how strong a part­ner the bar is in this en­ter­prise. (I was less taken with one of the house spe­cial­ties, a rhubarb Collins, but I ap­pre­ci­ated the mixol­ogy fi­nesse in­volved in that pi­quant drink.)

If you think Brus­sels sprouts ap­pe­tiz­ers are too passe to bother with any­more, think again. The ver­sion here showed how much life re­mains in this trend. The car­away-dusted sprouts were roasted with ex­tra care, re­sult­ing in a ter­rific ex­te­rior crunch, a lovely melt inside. A vi­brant Di­jon aioli com­ple­mented the veg­gies nicely.

The chilled, cracked crab cock­tail proved a win­ner, too. The very fresh-tast­ing crab had an as­sist from a vig­or­ous mus­tard sauce and, on the side, pick­led toma­toes and shaved cel­ery. We also took ad­van­tage of an item that fea­tured the last toma­toes of the sum­mer, part­nered by an ex­cel­lent bur­rata with a perky ramp pesto and grilled flat­bread.

Our main course in­cluded a mas­sive (10 ounces) and re­mark­ably ten­der French cut pork chop, rest­ing against a roasted honey nut squash. A thick and crispy slice of pork belly com­pleted the hearty dish.

Speak­ing of hearty, the pan­roasted Ch­e­sa­peake rock­fish was as meaty as sword­fish, yet still flaky. It was ac­com­pa­nied by a very tasty as­sort­ment of can­nellini beans, tomato nicoise and hari­cot verts.

You can’t go far with­out run­ning into seared sea scal­lops on a menu, but you’d be lucky to find any as ten­der, mild and sub­tly fla­vor­ful as the ones we en­joyed here, topped with a vivid dash of romesco. The dish gained fur­ther en­hance­ment from a but­ter­nut squash puree, brown but­ter parsnips and an arugula-al­mond salad.

Desserts were on a like­wise stel­lar plane, in­clud­ing an el­e­gant baked ap­ple with marsh­mal­low cream, and a re­fined, sweet-tart lemon curd with straw­ber­ries.

And then there was the bread pud­ding. I know what you’re think­ing — not an­other bread pud­ding. But this one had such re­mark­able per­son­al­ity, the slight crispi­ness on the out­side giv­ing way to a rich, creamy, al­most cake-like in­te­rior.

Con­vivial, seam­less ser­vice was one more sign of how se­ri­ous One Eleven Main is about providing a first-rate dining ex­pe­ri­ence for food­ies and just plain folks alike.

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