It’s not easy to stay on top of everything that is happening with the Baltimore food and drink scene. Fear not! I managed to get over to Topside at Revival, a Joie de Vivre Hotel in Mount Vernon on its opening weekend. I had high expectations for the experience after having watched the hotel be renovated for what felt like a million years. I was not prepared for the setting that awaited me on the top floor. The space is beautiful, bright, and airy. The view is amazing! Rooftop spaces are starting to pop up in Baltimore but there are few that offer something quite like this.
Topside is definitely the kind of place you could just hang out at for hours, drink, and take in the view. Speaking of drinks…..
We had a few cocktails. Always have to try a little bit of everything. First round we ordered the Amuse-Booch with Espolon blanco tequila, lime, Becherovka, Rosella tincture, Wild ginger-grapefruit kombucha and Shrubs n’ Rosés with St. George Botanivore gin, Shrub District strawberry-dill shrub, rosé vermouth, lemon, egg white, pink peppercorn. Amuze-Booch is citrusy and sour, not too sweet. Shrubs n’ Rosés was definitely my kind of beverage; sweet with a savory note. The next round we ordered Shandi, You’re A Fine Girl with Bourbon, Génépy des Alpes, seasonal fruit syrup, lemon, Burlesque bitters, a ThirSTAY on the side and Two Dope Georgez (In a Sour Riff) with George Dickel rye, spiced pear, amaro, bianco vermouth, citrus blend, hopped honey. Shandi was a fun combination! You get a cocktail with a beer on the side. Peabody Heights Brewery, LLC created a custom Pale Ale brew for the Revival, a Joie de Vivre Hotel. How fun?! Georgez was a good sweet and sour combination. All the drinks were beautiful and creative. I was also pleased to see they were using paper straws in all the beverages.I started the meal out light with an order of 1/2 dozen oysters. I think the oysters would be my only complaint of the meal. They were a great selection, local, and delicious but the presentation was a bit lacking. The oysters were still very much attached to their shells and I wasn’t given a small fork to help separate them or a spoon to put any of the condiments on them. Luckily, I always check to see if the oysters are still attached to the shell because there is nothing more unpleasant than trying to throw one back and only getting a mouth full of red wine vinegar. But like I said, this is my only complaint of the evening.
Oooooh man! I am so excited to tell you about what else we ate! After the oysters we moved on to the Small Bites section of the menu. I was brave and tried something new, Salt & Vinegar Beef Rinds. I would describe them as the adult version of savory rice crispies. Yes, they snapped, crackled, and popped as they were brought to our table and for a few minutes after. Crispy, salty, a little acidity, and an amazing bite. I could have eaten these all night and not even felt bad about it because it was almost like eating a cloud. They are a MUST order when you go. We also had the Fried Oysters with Spicy Mayo. It’s hard to mess up fried oysters so they were delicious and the spicy mayo complemented them perfectly. The visually stunning dish you see up there is the Grilled Quail Yakitori. I loved the presentation of this plate. I resisted engaging in a quail leg sword fight with my husband, but only just barely. The pile of greens with pansies and cilantro were great to sprinkle on each bite.
After the Small Bites we ventured over to the Small(er) Plates. I love ceviche so we had to try the Local Fluke Ceviche with asian pear, cucumber, lime curd, and chiles. Again, another beautiful dish. Topside really gets an A+ for presentation. I really enjoyed each bite of fish with a little bit of lime curd and cucumber. Each bite was light and refreshing. Now, it’s time for me to tell you about my favorite dish of the night! The winner for best bite was the Indian “Butter” Cauliflower with coconut kefir, cilantro, sesame, ginger, and green onion, O.M.G.! I LOVE Indian food and this really hit the spot. Just thinking about it makes me want to go eat it again. It was so savory and sweet, just needed a little bit more acid so we asked for some lime wedges (which were brought) and then it was perfectly perfect! Man, I could eat this every day. It is another MUST order when you visit. Also, it’s Vegan!
The meal would not be complete without dessert. We ordered the Ice Cream Sandwich which is made with Oatmeal Cookie, White Chocolate, Cherry, and Beer Caramel Ice Cream. Yes, you heard me right, Beer Caramel Ice Cream. I was happy it came as two small sandwiches because that made sharing easier. There was no way to eat it without getting messy with all that drizzly goodness on top. Be prepared to have to wash your hands after. Then we had the Churros with Spiced Sugar and Mole Ganache. I love me some mole. These were pretty good. Not a crispy as I prefer a churro to be, but tasty nonetheless.
We had a great experience at Topside. It was a beautiful evening and an excellent way to observe and appreciate spring in Baltimore. It’s hard to choose if you want to do a bunch of small things or go straight for the Bigger(er) Plates so you will have to make multiple visits to enjoy it all, I know I will. Also, the garden room section was not open yet and I can’t wait to see what B.Willow has done with it. Overall, I think Topside did an excellent job on their opening weekend. Nothing felt rushed or disorganized; our server was knowledgeable and made great recommendations. Topside has definitely raised the bar pretty high when it comes to rooftop dining in Baltimore.