As its name indicates, burgers are the star at Abbey Burger Bistro. You can create your own or choose one of the restaurant's house specialties, from a chili beef burger to a lamb burger with feta cheese. There are vegetarian options, too.
Owners Russ and Marigot Miller opened their first Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill in 2008.
"We wanted to do a new take on an old favorite," Marigot Miller said.
The couple expanded their burger joint to Ocean City in 2013 and, in December, opened their third restaurant in Fells Point with partner Jason Zink. They transformed the former Willow restaurant and lounge into a sports bar that seats 100 inside and 12 outside.
"After living in Federal Hill, you rarely travel to the other side of the pond," said Miller, referring to the Inner Harbor. "We liked the Fells Point location, and the building had such a good feeling."
The Millers and chef Patrick Morrow are continuing their burger tradition in the new place. The menu is the same as Federal Hill's and includes their popular waffle fry nachos, crab cake and sandwiches.
The only difference, Miller said, is the beer list. The Fells Point Abbey has 40 draft beers compared with Federal Hill's list of 12.
The Millers don't have current plans to open any other restaurants.
"We're going to settle in," Marigot Miller said. "We're pulling for consistency."
Scene & Decor The two-tiered space with an upper mezzanine is like many modern-day sports bars, with brick walls, wood floors and lots of TVs — 26, to be exact. A huge, wrought-iron chandelier is a focal point and is a lone holdover from the space's former days as Willow, a Latin-inspired restaurant and lounge.
Appetizers The meaty wings ($8) are great way to start, whether they're a prelude to one of the restaurant's burgers or to a big game on TV. We had the Buffalo style with blue cheese sauce and celery and liked the traditional flavors. You can also choose a spicy sesame sauce or a Maker's Mark sweet and spicy barbecue dip. The crab bites ($12) are like hush puppies in texture but still delicious, especially when dipped into a tangy remoulade sauce.
Entrees Burgers rule here. There are even vegetarian patties. But we're carnivores, so we stuck with the meat variety. The Baltimore burger ($15.50) pays homage to our seafood heritage with a thick beef patty slathered with house-made crab dip, then layered with cheddar cheese and strips of applewood smoked bacon. For $2 extra, you can get long strips of crunchy sweet potato fries instead of the house-made potato chips. The ground bison burger ($12) was moist and flavorful with a coating of blue cheese plus lettuce, tomato and mayo, capped with a fat onion ring. The accompanying chips were thick and salty, just like they should be.
Drinks There are red and white wines by the bottle and the glass. But the restaurant pays special attention to its draft beer list with 40 choices, from a large selection of local beers like Burley Oak's Lord Baltimore and Brewer's Art Resurrection, and other brands from around the U.S. and countries like Belgium and Ireland.
Service Friendly and helpful.
Dessert The funnel cake ($6) was a fine, decadent specimen of warm fried dough with powdered sugar. The brownie sundae ($6), deconstructed on a plate, was a rich indulgence with a brownie square topped with squiggly mound of whipped cream and two scoops of vanilla ice cream, zigzagged with chocolate sauce.