Dining review

At Canners Row, surprisingly good food on the waterfront

For The Baltimore Sun

In warm weather, we want to commune with nature, especially when eating a meal. Canners Row in Canton is the newest spot to provide a waterfront view — with the bonus of great food and drinks.

The restaurant, which opened in mid-April, offers an eclectic American menu with appetizers, entrees, burgers, sandwiches and pizzas. Chef Gerardo Gonzalez is heading up the kitchen.

On a recent evening, the restaurant’s glass panels were open, connecting inside diners with the boats docked outside and the parade of people walking the promenade. There are outside tables and decks, too. We like the carefree ambiance.

Several crush drinks add to a vacation vibe, including a Lynchburg lemon one with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, fresh squeezed lemon and triple sec. Wines by the glass and beer on draft and in bottles are also available.

We appreciate the restaurant’s spacious floor plan, with tables set far enough apart that you don’t feel like you’ve joined the people next to you. The modern, industrial decor keeps it simple, so you can focus on your surroundings and your meal.

We weren’t expecting food of this caliber at the laidback spot with a prominent bar. Our experienced server was terrific in explaining the menu — a disheveled-looking paper, which appeared to have inadvertently gotten wet, then dried to a rumpled state.

We began with a delicious tuna tartare, showcasing several ruby nuggets intertwined with bits of avocado, cilantro and jalapeno peppers, and molded on a crostini in a pool of mild red-chili oil.

The six fat oysters on the half shell —from the Chesapeake, our waiter said — would have been much better if they had been served chilled. We really liked another appetizer, the wood-fired cauliflower, which was tossed with smoked tomatoes and charred rainbow carrots and drizzled with a flavorful arugula almond pesto.

The strawberry salad was a fine seasonal mix of greens, ripe strawberry slices, candied pecans, red onions and dabs of goat cheese. We were glad the strawberry vinaigrette was served on the side. The Pepto-Bismol color of the pink dressing was unnerving at first, but it turned out to be more tangy than sickeningly sweet. The salad needed only a little of the rich, thick topping.

The grilled double lamb chops were splendid specimens and beautifully plated atop creamy mashed potatoes. They were paired with sautéed spinach and charred carrots, with the whole dish zigzagged with a zingy balsamic reduction.

Another entree, the wood-fired sea scallops and shrimp, was also terrific and abundant with seafood, sharing the space with a melange of tender cauliflower and carrots.

We also tried the more casual side of the menu with good results. The blue-crab burger featured an 8-ounce beef patty slicked with good crab dip on a bun with Bibb lettuce, a tomato slice and pickles. It was accompanied by decent fries.

There are other patty options, including a beef burger stuffed with mac and cheese, or you can build you own with various cheeses, vegetables and meats.

We can see why our wood-fired pizza was named the “perfect pear.” It was fabulous, with soft Anjou pear slices, sage, butternut-squash bechamel, candied pecans, roasted garlic, mozzarella and gobs of sweet ricotta cheese accentuating the pie.

The desserts had an Italian heritage and were great endings, especially the limoncello and lemon gelato parfait with its cool citrus finish. We also enjoyed a mango-raspberry parfait.

Chocolate fiends will like the delicate chocolate tiramisu. The layered confection, glazed with chocolate, was elegant and light.

The chilled bombe, wrapped in a white-chocolate shell, was a fun, captivating dish, revealing layers of ice cream, including a wonderful tart raspberry section.

Owner Robert “Bobby” Alipanah, who previously operated the defunct Robert Oliver Seafood in Mount Vernon, knows what he’s doing at Canners Row, named after the area’s previous canning industry.

Our one challenge of the evening was finding the red-roofed restaurant. It’s located off Boston Street, but there was no visible signage on our visit.

Our advice is to look for the complex that includes Bo Brooks Restaurant. There is a gated entry, where you take a parking ticket. We didn’t know we had to get it stamped, and we had to give the parking attendant our receipt so we could leave without paying a whopping fee.

It dampened our mood somewhat. But once you know about the parking situation, it’s worth grabbing a table at Canners Row and enjoying the harbor vista.

Canners Row

Rating: 3 stars

Where: 2723 Lighthouse Point East, Canton

Contact: 667-239-3466, cannersrow.com

Kitchen hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Prices: Small plates, $9-$18; pizzas, $13-$18; entrees, $15-$24

Food: American

Noise/TVs: The restaurant was quiet on our weeknight visit; three TVs

Service: Our gracious server was professional and experienced.

Parking: There is a gated parking lot. Be sure and ask the restaurant to stamp your parking ticket before you leave, or you’ll have to pay a fee.

Special diets: Some options available.

Reservation policy: Accepts reservations for parties of six or more.

[Key: Superlative: 5 stars; Excellent: 4 stars; Very good: 3 stars; Good: 2 stars; Promising: 1 star.]

lsuzanne@comcast.net

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