At this point, the word "gastropub" has become a catchall term for bars that want to seem fancy but still approachable and down-to-earth. It says, "We care about the ingredients in our recipes more than the other guys. But we're not stuffy, either."
Adam's Eve Gastropub in Canton, which opened in mid-July and replaced the Crossroads Bar and Restaurant, lives up to the name. Much of its success will be rightfully credited to chef Mark Littleton, formerly of Lulu's and Annabel Lee Tavern. Fans of his food — and there are plenty in the area — will be pleased to see Littleton is still up to his playful tricks in the kitchen. (Sake-braised rabbit potstickers served with a sweet honey-soy aioli were on the menu when we visited.)
But to truly be a gastropub, there must be balance between food and drink. While Adam's Eve's cocktail menu and beer list don't completely live up to the food menu's high standards, they are far from pedestrian. The selection of beer ranges from standard choices to more distinctive local brews, such as Stillwater Ale's Cellar Door.
The cocktail list varies significantly, too. On a recent Thursday night, the seven choices could have fit many moods. A Dangerfield (Van Gogh Melon vodka, ginger beer and lemonade) sounded as if it would have been refreshing on a summer night, but with the winds picking up and the temperatures lowering, I wanted something warmer.
Kentucky Coffee (Sweet Lucy Bourbon Cream Liqueur, Jim Beam Red Stag, coffee and topped with whipped cream) was a treat and felt like a steal for $7. The sweet black-cherry flavor from the Jim Beam nicely rounded out the coffee notes, giving the cocktail balance.
My bartender, a somewhat friendly guy pushing shots on anyone who'd listen, either forgot the bourbon-infused cinnamon or used such a small amount that it couldn't be detected. It was a minor hiccup in an otherwise excellent drink.
A smart feature of Adam's Eve beer list is its rotating specials. Each day, a handful of beers are discounted in an effort to push overstocked inventory and limited-time brews. The bartender explained that the fall flavors wouldn't be sold as regularly in a few weeks, which explained why a 16-ounce Stoudt's Oktoberfest was on sale for $7. My Saranac Oktoberfest, a malty brew from New York that lacked punch, was $4.50.
A gastropub requires fancier food and drinks than you'd expect at the corner pub, but it's just as important that it feels instantly comfortable, like a favorite watering hole. Adam's Eve achieves this with a setting suited for a date night and also the big game.
The giant square bar in the middle of the house has enough space to facilitate intimate conversations (an older couple shared a half-priced bottle of white wine on Thursday) and the typical cheering that comes with a touchdown (four young professional types grabbed seats in front of the large flat-screen TV, likely gearing up for Thursday night football). Add an old-school arcade game and a popcorn machine, and it's hard to complain.
Adam's Eve is on the corner of Foster and Highland avenues, which makes it closer to Patterson Park than to O'Donnell Square. The bartender said he doesn't hesitate to close the bar early on a slow night because he's "not trying to get robbed." When he said this, I immediately thought of the larger-than-necessary "No Loitering" sign that greets patrons as they enter. It would be a shame if the threat of crime were to deter patrons from experiencing a new spot such as Adam's Eve. They'd be missing out on a true gastropub.
Adam's Eve Gastropub
Back story: Replacing Crossroads in Canton, Adam's Eve Gastropub opened in July. Owners chef Mark Littleton and his fiancee, Cheryl Gavoni, named it after Gavoni's late son, Adam. Littleton's fresh takes on comfort bar food will get patrons through the door, but the bar's atmosphere and beer specials will keep them after plates are cleared.
Where: 3328 Foster Ave., Canton
Signature drink: Kentucky Coffee ($7), with its use of Jim Beam Red Stag and cream liqueur, is a well-balanced antidote to the winter's cold.
Parking: Free on the streets.
Contact: 410-327-6984, adamsevegastropub.com
Open: 4 p.m-2 a.m. Monday; closed Tuesday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 12:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun