The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Citron Restaurant and Bar: A legacy from the past and a fork to the future

Baltimore County, Quarry Lake off Greenspring Avenue is home to caterer Charles Levine’s dream come true restaurant, Citron.  Levine’s culinary career started at the iconic Pimlico Hotel Restaurant, working for his uncle, one of the partners and there was no looking back.

A number of you probably never heard of the Pimlico Hotel Restaurant although, many have; celebrities, dignitaries, sports figures and Baltimoreans dined there. It was “the place” to be and be seen, and featured a menu thick with culinary options from Chateaubriand to their big egg roll. There wasn’t an occasion that wasn’t celebrated at the Pimlico Hotel, in fact, that is where I had my wedding dinner. Always top-notch food and service, it was Baltimore’s premier restaurant.  My sensibilities feel Levine’s Citron yearns to pick up where Pimlico left off. 

The original Pimlico Hotel Restaurant moved in 1981 from the 1875 hotel location on Hayward Avenue and Park Heights to Pikesville at Commerce Center, and eventually closed in 1991 where Ruth’s Chris Steak House is now.  I bring up the Pimlico Hotel because it was the training ground for Levine and sets the tone for Citron; its influence is reflected in the white linen table cloth dining, beautifully appointed dining rooms, with thought given to the ambience and specialty acoustics allowing one to hear their companion’s conversation.

It was late November when I dined at Citron as a media guest of Charles Levine, soon after their opening.  Beaming with pride over his state-of-the-art kitchen, the décor, and watching his eyes darting over to each plate going out of the kitchen to the dining room – you could not deny his passion. Charles moved around the dining room greeting and schmoozing his guests with great aplomb.
The cuisine at Citron, contemporary American with a French twist, is prepared by Executive Chef Jerome Dorsch and his team.  The menu, like any fine dining menu, reflects the season’s offerings with grilled meats, salads and fresh seafood to be enjoyed in any one of their multiple dining rooms or on the lakeside patio, weather permitting.

I was seated in the main dining room with my guest, a high school girlfriend. We each ordered a cocktail – mine, the Mosaic, was from their handcrafted cocktail menu and included Altos Plata Tequila, Genepy des Alpes, Perucchi Dry Vermouth, jasmine liqueur and Cucumber Bitters. Breads from Stone Mill Bakery arrived at the table with both a sea salt butter and a basil tomato torte spread, and we both dug in. 

I am the more adventurous diner, not concerned about my cholesterol and calories – that is why I take Crestor; I opted for the Hudson Valley foie gras-duck confit raviolo appetizer. My companion chose the chilled jumbo shrimp with rémoulade and cocktail sauces.  Portions were generous:  the foie gras with sweet potato pancake, blackberries and the brûlée pineapple and honey Madeira gastrique had me swooning.

The cedar planked Atlantic salmon thrilled my companion with its Dijon maple glaze, cremini mushroom wild rice and tangy pineapple-mango relish.  Levine had explained on our kitchen tour that they were kicking off their rotisserie brined chicken that evening.  From someone who loves a moist piece of brined chicken (even had Jonathan Waxman’s infamous chicken at Barbuto in New York), this was a dish I had to have.  The rotisserie roasted free-range half chicken with grilled parsnip cauliflower puree, kale and tangerine rosemary jus was oh so moist and flavorful, I wished there was more on my plate.

Charles showed us his pastry chef’s work area, so we didn’t want to disappoint and not indulge with a sweet finish to an already fulfilling dining experience. Our waitress recommended the chocolate macadamia nut bar, a signature recipe with gold leaf.  We probably should have split that dessert, although we did order the chocolate mousse torte and the majority went home in a to-go box.

With 2017 on the horizon, there is still time to get in your reservation for New Year’s Eve at Citron. On New Year’s Eve, guests can ring in 2017 overlooking Quarry Lake while enjoying a four-course champagne dinner. Citron’s New Year’s Eve dinner menu includes a variety of festive, contemporary American dishes offered at $125 per person prix fixe, which includes a glass of champagne. Dinner seatings are available between 5-7 p.m. and 9-11 p.m.; the bar will open at 4:00 p.m.

On January 17th Citron will be open for lunch.  Here is an update on their hours of operation:

The restaurant is closed Mondays from now on.  Citron now offers a bar menu, which can be found here:  - This menu is offered 4pm to close, Tuesday - Sunday.

The restaurant will offer a lunch menu starting January 17 (menu TBD). The hours from Jan. 17 on will be as follows: 
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., Tues. - Sunday 
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wed, and Thursday; On Friday dinner is 5 p.m. – midnight; Saturday, dinner is 5:00 p.m. – 1 a.m. 
Bar menu is available 4 – close.

There is plenty parking in the Quarry Lake Shopping Center.  If you choose not to walk, there is valet parking available at Citron.

Citron Restaurant and Bar
2605 Quarry Lake Drive
Baltimore, MD 21209
Off exit 22 at I-695
410 363 0900
Facebook, Twitter and  Instagram: @citronbaltimore

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