Thursday, June 12, 2008

Next to Open on Harford Rd: Hamilton Tavern

When it comes to exciting new places opening up in Baltimore, Harford Road through Hamilton and Lauraville has become the hottest area in town. The next spot to look for sometime in July is the Hamilton Tavern at 5517 Harford Road at the corner of Wisteria Avenue. Don't expect it to be like the Hamilton Tavern that previously occupied the space.

The owner of the both the building and now its liquor license, which permits carry-out, is Tom Creegan. He is also one of five owners as well as a working partner at Brewers Art. Assisting him with major, fast-moving, and on-track renovations is his wife Felicia who will oversee the business end of the new establishment. The chef will be Sarah Thall, formerly of Maggie Moore's. Ron Foster will be in charge of the front end.

"We've always wanted a local bar," says Creegan, "with a little bit better selection of beer." Resurrection Beer, made famous at Brewers art, will be one of five North American craft brews to be offered on tap. Also available will be spirits, a list of oft-changing relatively inexpensive wines, and a menu offering what Creegan describes as "upscale comfort food ---kind of like what you remember your grandmother making for dinner, but with a little twist."

Wide sliding windows are being installed near the main entrance on Harford Road. Upon entering, the bar will be to the left facing the north wall. Lining the wall to the right and facing several small tables will be curved wooden benches salvaged from Camden Station. Original wooden floors previously buried by six layers of tile and linoleum are in the midst of restoration. The walls will be plaster, the ceiling pressed tin. Beyond the bar and up a couple of steps will be a mezzanine dining area enclosed by railing.

The Creegans are also thinking about the possiblilty of occasionally offering acoustic folk music, blues, or jazz on slow nights. However, it will probably be another year before they seriously explore entertainment options pending renovations of a large room on the second floor into additional dining space.

During a period when the restaurant industry and a lot of trendy neighborhoods are feeling the pinch, the new Hamilton Tavern is well positioned along this rapidly emerging destination stretch of Harford Road. What's behind it all, I ask? "A lot of young people have moved to the area in the last five years, and there's all this energy and youth," Tom Creegan explains. "We all know each other and have talked for years about making this kind of thing happen rather than having to drive to Fells Point, Belvedere Square or Towson. It finally reached the point where everyone took the plunge."