For years, Silks, the bar at the corner of Hudson Street and South Lakewood Avenue in Canton, was mostly overlooked. It was just another corner bar you'd walk past on the way to someplace else.
But now, after a two-and-a-half-year renovation, Silks has reinvented itself as a welcoming neighborhood spot. With a good, revolving beer selection, an appealing menu that focuses on pub-friendly food and smiling faces behind the bar, it's giving local residents a reason to do more than walk on by.
Scene & Decor Aesthetically, Silks has cleaned up its act, transforming its run-down space into something fresh and attractive. Outside, the old murals and garish signs are gone, replaced by a simple cream-colored facade and black-and-white signage that pays stylized homage to the bar's horsey name.
Inside is just as simple: dark wood, light walls and a lot of booze. Taps behind the main bar and a well-stocked DIY Bloody Mary bar in the dining room beckoned.
During our Thursday-night visit, the tables in the dining room were empty. Since we spied only bartenders, no wait staff, we opted for seats at the bar. Soon, the stools filled up with a crowd of twenty- and thirtysomethings gearing up to watch a preseason Ravens game — and eat.
Drinks From what we heard, the Silks crowd was thinking hard about what to drink. Silks is a beer bar, but the bar-top citrus juicer seemed like a good enough reason for orange crushes. The freshly squeezed cocktails ($7; $5 during happy hour) were icy and well-balanced and just as they should be.
The beer list was seasonally driven, with a decent selection of craft brews, local and otherwise. Our favorite was the sunny UFO Big Squeeze Shandy ($6), from New England's Harpoon Brewery. Its grapefruit flavor was citrusy without being over the top or sticky-sweet.
Appetizer Silks' bread bowl of crab dip ($10.50) arrived steaming hot, with pita squares for dipping. The dip was classic Maryland: creamy, sprinkled with Old Bay and topped with melted cheddar cheese. The flavor was rich and the bread plentiful, but it would have benefited from more lumps of crab plus a celery stalk or two.
Entrees Thursday night is $6.99 cheesesteak night, and most of our neighbors at the bar took advantage of the deal. We should have followed their lead; their sandwiches looked fantastic.
Instead, we made do with a good burger and not-as-good fish and chips. The fish and chips ($11.99) looked nice, with flaky white fish wrapped in crispy fried batter, but the batter was underseasoned and thicker than the side of a pizza box. As we waded through the dish, we uncovered a few mushy bites of fish, which just made us wish, even more, that we'd ordered the cheesesteak.
The steakhouse burger ($11.35), on the other hand, was a treat. A thick burger, topped with onion rings, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce, arrived on a shiny brioche bun. Though the burger was overcooked — more medium than medium rare — it was juicy and very likable.
But the real highlight was each plate's heaping side of fries. Dubbed sidewinders for their lazy curls, Silks' fries were crispy outside, soft inside and gorgeously seasoned.
Dessert Though a couple of desserts were listed on the online menu, we overheard the bartender explaining that they never sold, so the kitchen no longer keeps them in stock. No surprise — Silks is more of a place to grab some food with beer, rather than to settle in for a three-course meal.
We weren't sorry to hear the news about dessert, either. Since we no longer needed to save room for something sweet, we let ourselves gorge on the rest of those amazing fries.
Service During our visit, we never did see anyone occupy the tables in the dining room, though the bar filled up quickly, keeping the two bartenders occupied. Both were friendly and chatty; even when they got busy, they were efficient with food and drinks.
By the time we left, nearly all the bar stools were filled — almost everyone was eating, too. And if there were any diners not thoroughly enjoying a few sidewinder fries, well, we didn't see them.
Back story: In March, Silks reopened after a two-and-a-half- year renovation, which transformed the bar — a Canton fixture since the middle of the 20th century — from a messy hole in the wall to a streamlined, modern corner spot. Silks' beer-friendly menu is well executed and a good fit for the new space.
Parking: Street parking
Signature dish: The juicy steakhouse burger lives up to its name. Stacked with onion rings and paired with cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce, all on a brioche bun, it's full of flavor and crunch. The best part of the plate is the sidewinder fries — thick and twisty with major-league crunch and fantastic seasoning.
Where: 2641 Hudson St., Canton
Contact: 443-708-0317; silkscanton.com
Open: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday (Kitchen closes at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday)
Credit Cards: All major
Reservations: Not accepted
Bottom line: Despite a few misses, Silks' bar-friendly food and welcoming staff make it a capable, comfortable addition to the Canton scene