Restaurant review: Beer complements food at Red Brick Station

The words "beer food" bring to mind items like pretzels, peanuts and pizza. But at Red Brick Station in White Marsh the term means mussels steamed in ale, fish dipped in a beery batter and meat marinated in stout. Here, the beer is often in the food.

It works, in part because the beer is fresh. There is a brewery on the premises, between the bar and the dining room. It also works because the kitchen has a nice touch with spices. The concept here is to serve English-style ales and English pub fare. While the beers I tasted during my visits to England have a leg up on these ales, the food at Red Brick is as good or better than any I found in British pubs.

When our small order of mussels ($9.99) arrived at our table, I was expecting the usual chewy, steamed version of this seafood appetizer. Instead, these delicate Prince Edward Island mussels were tender, tiny and, thanks to a sauce made with chilies and garlic, positively fiery. Good stuff.

Our other appetizer, shrimp pot stickers ($7.99), was also pleasing. They were delicate, steamed just right, and served with a ginger dipping sauce.

Red Brick Station sits on The Avenue, a re-created Main Street in the shopping area off Honeygo Boulevard. The night we were there, the bar and lounge area — on your left as you pass the brew kettles — were loud and lively. The dining room — to the right of the kettles — was bustling as well.

True to its name, the restaurant's decor is dominated by red bricks. A large glass wall running along one side of the dining room provides a view of the nearby shops, it but also allows the headlights of cars parking diagonally in front of the restaurant, to shoot annoying streams of light into the room. A van that pulled up in midmeal had its headlights trained on me for what seemed like an eternity.

Our entrees were large and pleasing. The fish and chips ($12.99) featured white fish that had been dipped in beer-infused batter and fried. The batter was crisp, not soggy, and the fish, I later learned, was hoki, the fish of choice used in fried-fish sandwiches around the globe. It had firm texture, good moisture and, yes, tasted like fish, not breading. The serving was so large, three big pieces, that I had little appetite for the pile of french fries served with it.

The three-pint pasta ($15.99) had a beery moniker but no suds in its ingredient list. Sauteed shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage were mixed with onions, peppers and peas (a favorite of English pubs) served over penne. The curry sauce that covered this mixture was very spicy, according to the menu and our waiter. To our tastes, it was pleasing, not dangerously hot. Again, the portion was gigantic, too much for us at one sitting.

Our server was fast, efficient and polite, saying "excuse me" each time he queried us on how things were going. His mother and his manager would be proud.

Dessert, a dish called Chunky Monkey ($4.99), had a flavor profile similar to the ice cream of the same name. Pieces of caramelized banana sat atop milk chocolate cups filled with peanut butter custard. The whole affair was topped with too much whipped cream. It succeeded largely because of the caramelized bananas.

My wife sipped a glass of Kendall Jackson chardonnay ($7.25), while I sampled a selection of the brewer's handiwork ($4 a pint). Among the Avenue, the Daily Crisis IPA and the Spooner's Stout, my favorite was the stout..

When the beers at Red Brick Station appear in a glass, they are mild-mannered. When they show up in the food, the fare can get fiery.

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Red Brick Station

Where: 8149 Honeygo Blvd., White Marsh

Contact: 410 931- 7827,

Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner

Appetizers: $4.99-$11.99

Entrees: $12.99- $29.99

Food: ✭✭✭

Atmosphere: ✭✭1/2

Service: ✭✭✭

[Key: ✭✭✭✭: Outstanding; ✭✭✭: Good; ✭✭: Fair or uneven; ✭: Poor]

You be the critic: Have you been to Red Brick Station in White Marsh? Write your own review.

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