Dining review

QuarterHouse Tavern in Canton is an ideal neighborhood hangout

For The Baltimore Sun
You'll feel instantly comfortable at QuarterHouse Tavern in Canton. And the food is good, too.

There's a bit of irony that a former Pittsburgh Steelers bar in Canton features a cocktail called the Flacco Hun. But then, QuarterHouse Tavern, which opened in the old NcDevin's spot last year, is a completely different place.

To start, owners Howard and Mary Beth Staley completely remodeled the former bar.

"It wasn't pretty. It was in full disrepair," Howard Staley said. "We completely tore down the inside."

But they saved the charming wood bar, now topped with granite, and the original tin ceiling. Both add character to the cozy corner building that's been around since Prohibition.

They also stepped up the food offerings by placing chef Sean Praglowski, who previously worked at The Point in Fells, in the kitchen.

Diners will find choices like beer cheese fondue, lamb burgers and steak frites. Specials on our visit included stuffed local rockfish and grilled pork tenderloin. A brunch with bottomless bloody marys, mimosas and Natty Bohs is served on Sundays.

QuarterHouse's name plays on the word "quarter," referring to neighborhood, and "house" for the tavern's residential location, Staley said. It seats 50 in a bright dining area and an easygoing bar space with high top tables. There is also sidewalk seating.

"It's family-friendly inside and dog-friendly outside," Staley said. "These are our neighbors."

Scene & Decor: The neighborhood tavern has dark wood tables and black tin ceilings with high tops in the bar, and regular tables in a small, cheerful dining area with brick and colorful artwork. On a weeknight, we were joined by customers mostly interested in eating a meal.

Appetizers: The roasted Brussels sprouts ($10) got a wonderful treatment, studded with bacon lardons and cheddar cheese curds and glossed with roasted garlic butter; it was also a substantial portion. The fried eggplant Napoleon ($7) was an impressive stack of crispy eggplant rounds, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and arugula leaves, crisscrossed with sweet, dark balsamic vinegar.

Entrees The open-face meatloaf sandwich ($12) was a massive, comforting hunk of Creekstone Farms beef blanketed with bacon jam, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. It sat on toast halves that seemed inconsequential in contrast to the showy meat. The grilled salmon ($17) was a delightful find, served with a quinoa pilaf laced with sauteed local kale. A fluffy caraway seed cream sauce complemented the dish. The mac and cheese ($12) is a meal unto itself with a silky coating of a four-cheese blend. You can add crab, chicken, spam or bacon for a couple more dollars.

Drinks We adore a wine list that favors reds, but there are also several whites to choose from, including Champagne and a riesling. Beers from local breweries like The Brewer's Art are available on draft and in bottles and cans. And besides a cocktail named after Joe Flacco, crafted drinks include a rum daiquiri martini and a blood-orange old fashioned.

Service Our server, who was also mixing drinks behind the bar, was helpful and friendly as he covered the inside and outside tables.

Dessert Our only disappointment was the pear and almond torte ($6). The roasted pears were lovely, but the pastry was tough and dry. Other selections included a toasted mallow semifreddo ($6) and an avocado-lime ice cream ($6) with shaved white chocolate and whipped cream.

QuarterHouse Tavern

Backstory: Howard and Mary Beth Staley opened QuarterHouse Tavern in July 2015 after renovating the former NcDevin's space. It is the couple's first restaurant, though Howard Staley has over 25 years in the food and beverage industry, he said.

Signature dish: The open-face meatloaf sandwich

TVs: Three TVs

Where: 801 S. Decker Ave., Canton

Contact: 667-212-5888, quarterhousetavern.com

Open: 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday (brunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m.)

Credit Cards: All major

Reservations: Accepts reservations

Bottom line: There are some places where you feel comfortable immediately, and QuarterHouse is one of them. Top it off with terrific food and drinks, and you've found a great neighborhood spot to hang.

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