I spend a lot of time—too much time—writing restaurant reviews. I want to write novels about the decor, the food, the service, etc. It can feel daunting, which causes me to delay my reviews much longer than I would like. In an effort to post reviews shortly after dining, I'm streamlining the process so that all reviews will be in the same format. Let me know what you think!
Restaurant: By Degrees Cafe
Neighborhood: (North) Harbor East—with parking!
Architecture/Ambiance: By Degrees is in the old Fallsway Spring building, which I wrote about for BMoreMedia. The space is striking from the moment you walk up. The windows are floor to ceiling and the whole space is concrete and metal. It might have been a little too minimalist for some, but I love the industrial look. There's a nice, decent-sized bar and a lofted cafe area. It's not large, but it's big enough to be called a cafe.
Service: We had two different waiters and both were very nice. There were out of two different dishes that I asked about and the server didn't offer any suggestions, but I figured they might not know the whole menu since it opened recently.
Food, food, food: We ordered the roasted beets to start. They came with candied almonds, goat cheese, apples, and orange vinaigrette. They were well cooked, but nothing really stood out about them. I then ordered the slow-roasted pork shoulder sandwich with pickled red onions, frisee and cilantro on a baguette. (I opted for it without the spicy aioli.) Steve had the braised beef brisket with red pepper & horseradish aioli, fried shallots, and frisee on a baguette. We were a little surprised when they came out with paper wrapped on them, as if they were ordered to-go. It seemed odd that they'd be made fresh and then wrapped, but they tasted good, so we assumed it was just for looks. We had fries on the side, which were fairly standard.
Biggest pro(s): The space is amazing. I could see fantastic parties and a fun bar scene there. Owner Omar Semidey is so kind and really tries to give back in the community. (He has worked with local workforce development groups.) Plus, Baltimore needs more cafe-style restaurants, in my opinion.
Biggest con(s): They were out of two dishes that I wanted and, while the food was good, it didn't stand out in a city of some really above-par food.
Would I go back? Yes, for lunch. It felt a little too low-key for a seated dinner. It's perfect for a work lunch or grabbing something quick to go. The parking makes it easy to pop in, and I really want to try that turkey sandwich.