12 November 2008

The Parkside: Kids Welcome!!!

Finally, the other beer-friendly project in Northeast Baltimore is open. And it's good news for a LOT of beer fans.

A kid-friendly beer bar. Seriously.

Located at 4709 Harford Road, just north of Harford and Moravia in the Lauraville neighborhood, The Parkside is an odd project, the work of ex-Brewers Art employees Chris and Colleen Cashell and Vickie Johnson. Let's see, it's a bar, it's a restaurant, it's a bakery, it's a market, it's a carryout, it's a kid's playground, it's a deli....... have I left anything out? The closest I can come in character/feel to the place is a scaled-down version of Franklin's in Hyattsville, the combined brewpub/"general store"/liquor store.

The establishment sort of sneaked open earlier this month, and is still not quite up to speed--the bakery, deli, and market end is only semi-stocked so far. The bar is attractive, with the bar surface itself looking like a bowling alley lane ("It's not a bowling alley; it just looks like one," said Chris, proud of his handiwork). The bar has six draft lines so far, two reserved for Brewer's Art products and the other four to rotate according to availability and whim (Troegs Dopplebock and Victory Hop Devil on as of today), plus an impressive bottled beer line-up along with some limited (for now?) wine and good spirits.

The feature that sets this place off from all the others is a fenced-off play area for small children. This is not only for the benefit of the owners' children, but for all children of patrons. The venue is designed to be children-and-parent-friendly, a concept all too rare in the American alcohol-retail business where the mantra, thanks to Puritanical American attitudes about booze, is "No Children!" There's even a Sunday brunch. (Note: the play area closes at 8 PM, and you do have to mind your children--no dropping them off as child care.)

The website, including hours, menus, etc.: http://www.theparksideonline.com/ . As with the rest of the place, still a work in progress.

I don't have what we Scots call "wee bairns," but I know plenty of folks who do, including my sister and several beer aficionados. It's simply unrealistic to expect someone to bring his wife and small kid(s) to a place like Max's, The Brewers Art, or even the "family-oriented" brewpubs like Red Brick Station. I want this place to succeed, if only to offer the "family men" a night out.

Parkside Fine Food and Spirits on Urbanspoon


Brad said...

Awesome! I'm there for sure.

The Stace said...

We've been several times. Beer selection is indeed quite nice. $3 for a draft Hop Devil? Fantastic.

Food's been hit and miss. Hope there's some real improvement there. Menu lacks focus. The comfort food we've had -- coddies, sour beef and dumplings, and gumbo -- were disappointments. Most of what we've tried seems to need just one more ingredient to make it special. i.e. Adding walnuts to the Gorgonzola ravioli would finish it nicely.

Desserts are good. The smoked trout appetizer is outstanding.

Hope it does well because the beer selection is fabulous and I like the idea of the family area, but that menu and food needs some revisiting.