When we entered One-Eyed Mike's in Fells Point on a recent Friday, we faced a raucous crowd of drinkers and a wall of Grand Marnier bottles in the narrow bar area. The restaurant claims to host the first and largest club dedicated to the French, orange-flavored cognac.

But we weren't there to drink. We were there to eat. The tavern, which opened in 2003, has a new chef, Akbar Vaiya, who bought the restaurant in 2016 with his mother, Susan Hormozi.


"It was an end goal," said Vaiya, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok and previously worked at Cunningham's in Towson. "I've worked in the industry my whole life."

The historic building still looks the same as it did under the previous owner, with a gorgeous hand-carved bar and a low-lit, romantic dining room that is tucked away from the party vibe in the front. The walls are painted crimson, the tables are covered in white cloths and black napkins, and classical and jazz music from the sound system gives the restaurant a sophisticated nudge.

Fells Point bar One-Eyed Mike's auctioned for $1.25 million

One-Eyed Mike's, the Fells Point bar known for its vast Grand Marnier Club, was auctioned for $1.25 million Thursday morning.

You'll also find additional shelves of Grand Marnier to house the many bottles sold to Grand Marnier Club participants. The club, which offers members a bottle of the liqueur and a lifetime reserved spot for it on the restaurant's shelf, recently acquired its 3,000th member.

But One-Eyed Mike's, which is located a few blocks from the hub of Thames Street, is more than a place to quaff liqueurs. Its food, under the guidance of Vaiya, deserves recognition, too.

Scene & Decor The narrow bar, known for its Grand Marnier Club, was noisy and crowded when we entered through the red front door. We were led to a serene dining room in the rear of the building, where we were the lone customers for most of the night. We didn't mind the solitude. There is also an outdoor patio in the back.

Appetizers A meatball appetizer ($10) with Parmesan polenta was wonderfully gooey and cheesy. The chicken liver mousse ($8) was an earthy, smooth and luscious spread on crusty baguette slices. The accompanying bread-and-butter pickles added a pleasant sweet note.

Entrees We really enjoyed the bavette steak ($24) from Creekstone Farms. The sliced, rosy beef — similar to a flank steak, Vaiya said — shared the plate with roasted fingerling potatoes and asparagus, and was draped with an elegant mushroom cognac cream sauce. The seared sea scallops ($30) were a stunner, with the four disks adorning a flavorful crab-and-lobster risotto and encircled by pools of silky tomato-butter sauce. Sandwiches like Susan's chicken sandwich ($11) and a bacon-and-blue burger ($13) are also available, with a choice of pasta salad, chips or slaw as a side.

The history of One-Eyed Mike's' Grand Marnier Club

In the months leading to his Fells Point bar's 2003 opening, One-Eyed Mike's owner Mike Maraziti knew he needed a hook -- something to turn new customers into loyal regulars -- to stand out in the crowded neighborhood.

Drinks Signature Grand Marnier cocktails include a Perfect Storm ($10) with Grand Marnier, ginger beer, lime and bitters. Wine and beer are also available.

Service Our congenial waiter was terrific. He was knowledgeable about the menu and the restaurant's history.

Dessert The restaurant had run out of desserts the night we visited, so we ended our meal with shots of Grand Marnier ($9 each). It seemed appropriate.

One-Eyed Mike’s

Backstory: Mike Maraziti, who opened One-Eyed Mike's in 2003, decided to auction the site in 2016. Chef Akbar Vaiya and his mother, Susan Hormozi, bought the property and continue to run the restaurant and its signature Grand Marnier Club.

Signature dish: Meatball appetizer

TVs: Two TVs

Where: 708 S. Bond St., Fells Point


Contact: 410-327-0445, oneeyedmikes.com

Open: Noon to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday

Credit cards: All major

Reservations: Accepts

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Bottom line: One-Eyed Mike's may be best known for its Grand Marnier Club, but it's also doing some fine cooking in the kitchen.