Wednesday, September 17, 2008

4 East Madison

Oddly, perhaps, 4 East Madison was kind of off my radar even though its owners and operators are my friends and have been since it opened in 2002. Perhaps because they weren't pushing many culinary envelopes, I failed to consider how unique to Baltimore the experience of dining there could be.

Partners Betty Loafman and Sandy Lawler expanded into the restaurant business this past June without a lot of talk, promotion, or advertising. Since Four East Madison is primarily a bed and breakfast, most of its patrons were---and still are---from out of town. What they receive is the opportunity to enjoy life in Baltimore's Mount Vernon Place in a beautifully renovated historic setting.

For now, lunch in the garden is only served 11:30-2 Wednesday through Friday. Dinner is served 5-9 Thursday through Saturday. "I have to cook," is how Sandy explained the development of "feast @ 4 east." Since the beginning, Sandy's job has been to cook breakfast for the guests. She enjoyed her duties enough that she wanted to "keep on cooking and see what happened." Feast @ 4east has been recognized as Baltimore's "Best Summer Lunch Spot" as well as the city's "Best Bed and Breakfast" by City Paper

Mrs. Yi and I dined at feast @ 4east this past Friday, arriving shortly after 8 p.m. With most of the guests having already left, the din was low enough for us to blissfully groove to the recording of traditional New Orleans Jazz that was playing. The pleasant ambiance was completely different than at any other restaurant where we've dined in Baltimore. Since feast @ 43east is BYOB, we brought our own wine, which was promptly corked by a stylish and engaging young waiter from Seattle.

Feast @ 4east's menu accurately heralds "delightful food, sustainably sourced, prepared simply with a French Mediterranean flair." While not lengthy, it encompasses a range of choices to satisfy the culinary needs and preferences of just about anyone. Mrs. Yi and I sampled and thoroughly enjoyed a wide range of selections. My favorite was the "savory seasonal tart pictured above.