For the purposes of nightlife, the neighborhood of Canton, to the east of downtown Baltimore, is defined largely by O'Donnell Square, a lively congregation of restaurants and shops just blocks from the water. Bar hopping here isn't even a challenge. Bar crawling is more appropriate. And when the daylight fades on Friday and Saturday nights, those remaining better have their party hats strapped firmly tight. The scene can be overwhelming at times with revelers intent on gaining enjoyment through drop shots, cheap beer, and watered down mixed drinks, which many a person has experienced at one point or another. So it may be surprising that a different option can be had in relative proximity.
Just a stroll around the corner, at the corner of Hudson and Linwood, sits an establishment with a bit more refinement than the drink-slingers on the square. Opened several years ago, Saute Restaurant & Bar gives Canton residents and visitors a more subdued option for nightly entertainment. But more than the atmosphere, the restaurant has some real gems on the menu, both food and wine. Several appetizers are worth the cost of admission, especially the Pulled-Duck Nachos or Pulled-Pork tacos. In fact, if it says "Pulled" anything, go for it. The wine list also has some finds and although it has some disappointments as well, offers a pretty good variety. Of the "By The Glass" options there are some run-of-the-mill choices that will draw apathetic reactions but one in particular was quite a pleasant surprise. Firestone Merlot from Sonoma County, one of the cheapest glasses on the menu, was quite impressive and may be the best value on the menu. It's not even arguable on Tuesday nights when the bottle is half off. Paying retail prices in a restaurant? Yes sir, may I have another!
Granted, Saute is not lighting the world on fire with their cuisine. Top Chef is not knocking down the door of the kitchen to grab the kitchen staff. It's not trying to rival The Charleston or Wit & Wisdom. But that is not the goal. Saute is a great neighborhood spot to get good food and good wine in a relaxing environment at decent prices. See you on Tuesday!