When I heard the Atlas Group was opening The Bygone, a new restaurant atop the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, it caught my attention. Since I am familiar with the other Atlas Group restaurants in the Baltimore area, I figured it was worth a try. Seldom do restaurants with a big view rate high on food quality, service, or cost. With those negatives in mind, I held to a wait-and-see plan before setting foot in this ivory tower eatery.
When the stars and planets aligned, and a perfectly clear day came as well, it was time to try out The Bygone. It was a special occasion dinner, our anniversary, and we thought it was time to see if the reviews were accurate.
The Bygone’s mission is to bring back what was good in fine dining. Guests start out the journey to the past by being escorted to the elevator and taken to the top by an elevator operator. This serves two purposes. Guests can have questions answered on the ride up and the restaurant can screen out those who don’t dress properly per the dress code. Men are required to wear a collared shirt, and jackets and ties are suggested, but not mandatory. No flip-flops or t-shirts are permitted to keep the atmosphere elegant—as per bygone days of fine dining when people actually dressed up to go out to dinner.
Sweeping views of Baltimore enjoyed with delicious entrees
When we stepped out of the elevator, we barely could contain our enthusiasm for the spectacular view. The entire city of Baltimore was proudly displayed in soft afternoon sunshine and the waters of the Inner Harbor sparkled like a sea of diamonds. Our hostess escorted us to table 106, a window-front location on the east side of the restaurant. The view encompassed Johns Hopkins, Highland Park, Little Italy, and far-off Towson.
After being seated, the waiter or waitress provides an introduction and asks if you want tap water, bottled water, or a cocktail to start. The extensive wine list and menus are presented, and most will be impressed with the wine choices. For example, the champagne list numbers nearly 90 and tops out at around 5,000 USD for an upscale bottle! The wines by-the-glass list is encouraging as they have a nice mix of California, French, and Oregon wines many guests will recognize.
The wait-person will bring both pretzel bread and popovers with butter to whet your appetite. Waitstaff don’t mind pouring a taste of wine for your inspection if you’re not sure you’ll like it. If your first taste doesn’t pass the test, try something like a French Chablis or the Muscadet to start your meal off right. The wines by-the-bottle are priced from 40 USD to over 4,000 USD and span U.S., French, Italian, Spain, Portugal, Australia and New Zealand.
The dinner menu features a wondrous sampling of entrees and classic salads. Try the crab Louie for one of the best and most generous such salads in Baltimore. My crab Louie was the best I’ve ever had. Instead of the usual Thousand Island dressing, the chef chose a recipe from a New York restaurant that delighted my taste buds with a touch of chili and mustard along with several herbs and spices. This crab Louie is big enough for an entrée and comes studded with large hunks of lump crab, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and avocado. Try the asparagus soup with blue mussels made without milk or cream. It’s a thick green soup tasting like pure asparagus and hints of fresh basil.
More fabulous entrees
Entree choices like the Dover sole Meuniere for two, lobster vol-au-vent, heritage chicken from the rotisserie grill, or Cajun snapper remind you how special The Bygone is. Their heritage chicken is chosen for the 300+ year history of this tasty breed and is quite a large portion. Take a few minutes before your entrees come for a walk to the bar area for a look around. There’s a deck outside the bar that delivers an excellent view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. This deck is going to be one hot ticket every summer. The upstairs area of the bar features plush couches for sipping a glass of bourbon from the 500 types on offer, or opt for a number of cordials, Madeira, or port; the downstairs bar is a typical three sided version.
When your meal is delivered, it arrives on a push cart for an elegant presentation. For the vol-au-vent, the lobster tail is separated and decked out in a few greens while the rest of the lobster is stuffed in a pastry shell swimming with maitake mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, and a few microgreens. The heritage half chicken entrée is served in an oval cast iron baking dish with a side of gravy and tucked into the area between leg and breasts are sautéed greens. The chicken gravy is delicious with a flavor that can only be acquired from thoughtful use of pan drippings. The chicken is rich and flavorful while moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.
The best baked Alaska ever
Don’t miss the baked Alaska! It comes out on a plate with a broad brush stroke of raspberry sauce, edible flowers, three shortbread cookies standing on edge and cemented with meringue to hold their position. When ours arrived, we almost gasped at its beauty. We dug in and tasted the creamiest raspberry ice cream ever. Each bite delivered a burst of sublime raspberry flavor made even smoother by the marshmallow-like meringue coating. If I hadn’t needed to drive us home, we’d have split a glass of Grand Marnier from the trio of offerings on the dessert list. For those who don’t have to drive home after dinner, the bar area is a perfect space to end the meal in style.
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Catch a sunset
The sunset views from The Bygone can be spectacular. Try and time your dinner to enjoy this special moment when the day ends and night begins high above Baltimore.
A winner for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
The Bygone breaks the curse of good view/bad food that many big view restaurants suffer. For high-end dining in Baltimore, this is a winner for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
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