Review: The Tilted Kilt in White Marsh

The Tilted Kilt is a Celtic-themed chain bar-restaurant where the waitresses are less-dressed than the Caesar salad; think Hooters dressed up in skimpy tartan duds.

At first glance, it looks like the only thing it's got going for it is a good view, and maybe excellent fried chicken.

At other bars with scantily dressed waitresses, there's little craft beer and not many draft lines — just your usual domestic swill.

But, the Kilt, open since September, is an unpretentious, affordable spot with ample beer options. It exceeds the expectations of those who might dismiss it as a Scottish Hooters or as just another mall bar in the county.

Located at the heart of The Avenue outdoor mall in White Marsh, this spacious, kitschy bar knows not to take itself too seriously. Its slogan is: "A cold beer never looked this good."

Much like schmaltzy Italian restaurants decked out with posters of "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather," its walls are papered with posters "Braveheart" and Fat Bastard from "Austin Powers."

Above the kitchen entrance there's portrait of Sinead O'Connor that would been less out of place at the Sistine Chapel. She's no doubt looking down on the bar in horror.

The waitresses wear white, knee-high kilt hose, tartan miniskirts and a matching bras underneath shrunken white T-shirts; just like their Scottish ancestors intended, one imagines. There's only one man on the front-of-the-house staff: a bartender who wears a much more conservative all-black ensemble. An equal-opportunity objectifier, The Tilted Kilt is not.

But what it lacks in clothing, it makes up for in real estate. The bar consists of a large, full-service outdoor dining area, crowded the night I went; an indoor dining room; a bar that seats some 30 or 40 people and has about six flat-screen TVs simultaneously broadcasting cable; and a banquet-style table for 10 or more.

The food isn't much. Part of a chain of restaurants, the White Marsh location has grilled chicken quesadillas, classic nachos and $8.50 Caesar salads.

It's in beer options that the bar is really a standout. The managers have done their research and stocked their roomy bar with regional fare. Clipper City Peg Leg and Dogfish 60 Minute IPA are both available on tap, just two of the 12 rotating draft lines. Overall, there are 24 beers on tap.

There are more than 15 brands of bottled beers, and there are three wines on the menu, including a basic Ecco Domani.

Other bars might depend on voluptuous waitstaff in varying degrees of undress to distract from what's available to drink. At the Tilted Kilt, there are not only myriad choices, but good choices in all.

Prices are also reasonable. My 20-ounce Dogfish was $4.80. And during happy hour — from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. seven days week — all beer, wine and cocktails are a dollar off. On Tuesdays, drafts are half-off from 8 p.m. until close at 2 a.m.

It would be easy to make fun of or get worked up about the Tilted Kilt. Waitresses in tight tops stopped being a novelty even before the first Hooters opened. Why is this even a bar concept anymore? Isn't the Celtic motif unusual enough?

A bar that coasts on this stuff will always be tacky. But it can at least be tacky with nice beer.

And what's more, the Tilted Kilt is too innocuous to be offensive. If you're upset by the waitresses here, you might as well stop going to Adam Sandler movies. The women play the same decorative role there.

It's best to come here, ignore the waitresses and simply focus on the beer. Most customers the night I was there seemed to have already done this. They talked among themselves, or to the bartender, but basically seemed more interested in ESPN than in the waitresses.



If you go

The Tilted Kilt is at 8133 Honeygo Blvd. It is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call 410-497-0792 or go to whitemarsh.tiltedkilt.com.

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