Restaurant review

Seductive waterfront view, enjoyable food and drink at Button in Canton

The Baltimore Sun

On a summer evening at Button, the new restaurant and bar at Canton’s Lighthouse Point, you can imagine yourself in some tropical, carefree resort town as pricey boats, docked mere feet away, bob seductively in the water. You can easily keep that illusion going while sipping cocktails a-tingle with grapefruit or coconut flavors.

At least that’s what we did during a visit that revealed the charms of the place, which has been given an appealing makeover since the previous occupant (Canners Row) was evicted over a pesky matter of rent.

Button has brightened the property up nicely, starting with a marine blue roof to replace the old red one. For the full waterside experience, there are outdoor tables, as well as a deck adjacent to the pool of the Swim Club at Lighthouse Point (poolside is reserved for club members).

But you really don’t miss much inside, where floor-to-ceiling windows provide transporting views of the marina, not to mention the passing human parade. Canine, too — the restaurant provides a big water dish that got lots of grateful laps from pets accompanying their owners the day we were there.

In such a casual setting, you might expect to find only perfunctory bar fare. But Button is going for something more up-market, something that could entice you to stop by, linger and return. Yes, you can get a burger or a pizza, but serious salads and appetizers, too, as well as substantial seafood and beef entrees.

Judging by our weeknight visit, Button may still be finding its rhythm. Although we were greeted and seated quickly, our drink order took a long while to arrive, though only three or four other people were in the place. But we figured, hey, that just meant more time to chill and enjoy the sights.

When the lubricating did commence, we particularly enjoyed one of the bar’s cocktail specials — a slipknot — that blended gin, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit bitters and lemon juice to refreshing effect.

Other than a wee bit of graininess and some stinginess with the dressing, the red leaf Caesar salad provided a nice, light starter as the sun cut through clouds in the western sky and bathed the bistro.

An appetizer of perfectly seared scallops came with some peppers on top packing enough heat to fuel one of those boats outside; tiny strips of blue corn chips added character and texture. The arancini, partnered by a cashew basil pesto, proved an equally impressive first course.

From the restaurant’s wood fire pizza oven, a Margherita revealed a well-proportioned topping of tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta and basil (extra marks for not adding gobs of tomato sauce, as many places inappropriately do). Everything tasted fresh, as did the slightly too-chewy dough, but nothing quite jumped out, flavor-wise. So laid-back you might call it a Margherita-ville pizza.

It’s hard for some of us to resist fries, so we had to order Button’s lemon-and-herb version, which proved quite satisfying.

The restaurant’s waterside locale makes seafood essential. In addition to fried shrimp-and-grits and a Cajun-spiced rockfish, the summer menu includes a pasta selection that brings lump crab and linguini together in a light lobster sauce. That bowl of pasta made an elegant little entree.

For something land-based, we splurged on a tender filet mignon that offered commendable tenderness, if modest flavor, partnered by good mashed potatoes and a side of roasted Brussels sprouts enlivened by a bacon jam and red wine vinaigrette.

Speaking of wine, the modest list yielded a young Argentine cabernet that got the job done.

The dessert, a strawberry shortcake, did much more than that. Its perfect biscuit, invigorating fruit and lovely creme anglaise produced something of a Proustian madeleine moment for all of us, bringing back memories of such unfussy, fulfilling treats savored during the winsome summers of our youth.

Button

Address: 2723 Lighthouse Point E., Canton

Contact: 410-387-4377, eatatbutton.com

Cuisine: American

Prices: Appetizers $9 to $16; pizzas $12 to $16; entrees $12 to $32

Ambience: The vibe is beach-y, the decor unpretentious and inviting.

Service: Amiable and attentive

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Pay lot

Special diets: They can be accommodated.

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

tim.smith@baltsun.com

twitter.com/clefnotes

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