Some people shudder at the thought of a "theme restaurant" — especially when that theme involves pirates. But with a gleaming, wood-lined interior, top-notch food and friendly service, Mutiny Pirate Bar in Glen Burnie is much better than it sounds on paper.
A few years ago, Rob and Steve Wecker, the brothers behind Columbia's Iron Bridge Wine Company, along with friend Nate Hynson, got the urge to go marauding. Steve said he noticed that, "people are rooting for the pirates now."
When they found an empty building in a residential neighborhood near Marley Creek, they knew they'd have a great fit. From the outside, the bright blue building is just on the nice side of ramshackle. Little vignettes — a treasure chest here, a skeleton there — give clues about what to expect inside.
For us, the message was even more obvious. In the parking lot, a friendly pirate waved hello. He wasn't part of the show — just a patron, getting into the spirit. Turns out he's part of a group of pirate enthusiasts who meet at Mutiny once a month.
At first glance, the interior vibe is traditional old Chesapeake Bay restaurant: dark, gleaming wood, rope accents, oversize nautical charts on the walls and tables. But cheeky signs on the walls give the space a modern, funny edge ("Rule #1: Always pillage before you burn.")
Around 5 p.m. on a recent Saturday, the bar was already mostly full — thanks, in part, to the rowdy pirates.
About a dozen members of the Iron Bridge staff migrated to Mutiny, including executive chef Jake Howard. Though Mutiny is more casual than its sister restaurant, the menu is equally thoughtful and the staff's training apparent.
Seconds after we sat, our waitress approached to run us through the menu, offering recommendations and commentary. We ordered a snack — salty peanuts with just a little heat, thanks to a house blend of spices ($3) — that arrived while we were still chatting with the waitress.
Mutiny has an impressive cocktail and beer list, though a few days before our visit, an event drained three of their Heavy Seas kegs (they were also out of Michelob Ultra — for the carb-counting pirate, we suppose).
With the beer supplies diminished, we opted for cocktails. The Dark Storm, Mutiny's refreshing take on the Dark & Stormy, tones down the classic drink's intense spice, pairing dark rum and lime with ginger syrup instead of ginger beer ($9).
The Ting Sting ($8) was a tart but nicely balanced combination of Ting grapefruit soda, lime and Kraken spiced rum.
Like bar patrons everywhere, pirates like wings ($10). Mutiny's were juicy, thanks to brining, and dressed up with a few different sauces, some more successful than others. Guava barbecue sauce was fruity and subtle, with just a tiny bit of bite, but jerk-rubbed wings tasted more burnt than spiced.
The saucily named "Moby Pickle" was a bigger hit ($6). Long spears of briny pickle, coated in beer-batter and fried, hit all the right notes: crunchy, juicy, salty and acidic.
Both appetizers came with chipotle ranch dipping sauce that had only the tiniest bite but full-bodied smoke. The combination of tang, heat and smoke was an inspired match for both the wings and pickles.
The fish-and-chips entree ($12) gave Howard another chance to show off his sauce skills. Flaky cod, coated in the same beer batter as the pickles, was cooked beautifully, and skinny hand-cut fries were crispy and hot. Both were great dipped in the duo of sauces: a lemon-habanero tartar sauce and serrano-infused cider vinegar.
Ropa vieja ($14), braised short ribs in a spicy tomato sauce, served over coconut basmati rice and topped with a fried egg, was a tasty rendition of the traditional tropical stew. We wished the dish had a touch more sauce, but the egg's lovely, runny yolk made a creamy dressing for the tender, island-spiced beef.
Dinner ended with a dense and pretty round of tart Key lime pie, decorated with a squiggle of cheesecake-like cream ($5). From the dessert cocktail menu, the milky Amaretto Spice cocktail ($7) was spiced like eggnog, but lighter and refreshing — a dairy drink that worked in the summer.
As we wrapped up dinner, a large party arrived. Our waitress high-tailed it over to us, to ask if we needed anything before she took their drink orders. From start to finish, she was attentive, and the meal was well-timed.
Thoughtful food, good service and fun space make Mutiny more than a cheesy pirate-themed bar. Steve Wecker said there are plans for expansion. Wherever it is, we'll be first in line to be welcomed aboard by the ambitious Wecker brothers and their talented crew.
Mutiny Pirate Bar
Back story: Rob and Steve Wecker, owners of Columbia's Iron Bridge Wine Company, opened Mutiny Pirate Bar in November. They worked with Iron Bridge veteran (now Mutiny executive chef) Jake Howard to create a pirate-themed menu that is fun, but also full of very good food.
Parking: Lot in front.
Signature dish: The Moby Pickle — pickles are sliced into long spears, covered with beer batter and lightly fried. Crunchy outside, but juicy in the center, the spears come with smoky chipotle ranch dipping sauce.
Where: 1653 Marley Ave., Glen Burnie
Contact: 410-787-2050; mutinypiratebar.com
Open: noon-10 p.m. Sunday, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 3:30 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
Credit Cards: All major
[Key: Excellent: ✭✭✭✭; Good: ✭✭✭; Fair or Uneven: ✭✭; Poor: ✭]Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun