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Iron Bridge Wine Company, Rob and Steve Wecker's Wine Bar on Route 108 in Columbia


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Never even heard of this place until Sunday night, when I was taken there. It's a combination wine store/bar/restaurant in Columbia off Rt. 108 in a pleasant location across from a huge field. They have a menu of small plates items (with a few almost entree size things too), most of which we tried were very good. However, the main draw is, of course, the wine. Glass prices were about on par for this area, but the real deal is the bottles. Any bottle from the wall shelves around the restaurant (this is basically the entire wine list) are only $5 corkage. Prices and selection are pretty nice. After sampling a couple of glasses, we had a Torbreck 'Woodcutter's' Shiraz ($22 + $5= $27) at our server's suggestion that I thought was quite good. A couple of highlights from the small plates we tried were a pancetta and asparagus tart and a marlin steak with a chipotle-corn-cream sauce.

Definitely something to consider if you're out that way for Merriweather-- or even worth a trip if you aren't.

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I was bored at work one day and started googling old high school friends (one is an avalanche expert for the Swiss government now), and it turns out that my old high school cross country captain, an excellent guy named Steve Wecker is an owner of this place. Glad to read good things about it, I'm hoping to have a chance to try it this summer. (Possibly in concert with the Petty/Black Crowes show).

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Met some friends who live in Baltimore here for brunch on Sunday. They've expanded, building a new dining addition that has a communal table and a fireplace. Looks like a cozy spot to go when it's cold outside. Brunch was great and the prices are gentle (about $9-10 for entrees, which include omeletes, duck confit hash, steak and eggs, and many other things). Gotta love that $5 mark-up on all wines.

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I work about 2 minutes from this place and go there several times a month for lunch. They DO have a creative menu and a few hundred bottles of wine to choose from. I haven't been there for brunch or dinner, but, from what you've described, their brunch looks great!

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Eight of us tucked into the Friday Foie starters at Iron Bridge Wine Company.

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We ordered two of each of the four starters on offer. My favorites were the pate and the napoleon. The PB&J overpowered the Foie and the BBQ flavor of the Duck Confit did the same. We got the recommended Pinot Blanc for this course - a little sweet, but it went well with the Foie.

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My main was lamb with smashed sweet potatoes and asparagus.

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It was my first dinner at Iron Bridge though I'd been for lunch once or twice. I enjoyed going through the racks to find a red meritage for our mains [most of us got either lamb or beef] - it was Bookwalter - perhaps Lot 20.

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No foie gras on the menu, but Iron Bridge is still one of the great places to try during the Howard County Restaurant Weeks than run through early August.

My wife and I ate at Iron Bridge on a celebratory whim tonight. For restaurant week, Iron Bridge is offering three courses for $30 -- an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. Iron Bridge has specials every weeknight like a "burger and wine" special on Mondays. But we actually ate the regular appetizers -- four tapas-sized dishes that we split before having dessert. We paid a little less and still walked out satisfied and full.

Iron Bridge is a special kitchen. Dishes are small, simple and smart, which was my reason to try more little dishes than a full-plate entrees. Consider the "fries" served with a barbecued beef slider. They look like thick cut fries, but they're really slices of polenta, fried with such a light touch that the outside was crisp and the inside was almost creamy. It's surprising. It's funny. But most importantly, it's delicious and dipped beautifully into the barbecue sauce.

I started to write that the best items were the simplest -- house-smoked salmon with a spectacular cream on thin slices of toast. But the dishes are deceptively complex. Someone turned out that salmon with a mouth-filling flavor of fish and salt, but none of the oiliness that mars bad lox. Someone made a perfect cream and thin toasts with a slight crunch, but still the chewiness of bread. It's an intelligence that run through everything at Iron Bridge from the manager who moved us away from a happy, loud group to the waiter who let my wife order a half-pour when the menu only listed wines by the full glass.

This was one of my favorite dinners in a long time. The beef sliders and the shrimp were both cooked perfectly. The bread pudding was delicate -- although more like a cake than the moist puddings that we prefer. The wine was superb and fit my wife's request of "dry, but full flavored" exactly. This was the fun of eating at a favorite restaurant, made especially good because we didn't fall into our "favorite sushi roll" rut. Iron Bridge changes its menu all the time, so we make new picks confident that nothing with disappoint. I really wanted the cheese plate, but we relented because four tapas and dessert truly filled us both up.

If you want the restaurant week special, you need to ask. There wasn't anything in the restaurant that advertised restaurant week or said the "three for $30" special applied tonight.

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"Foie Gras PBJ" was a delight last night. I can't begin to explain it but it the foie was seared perfectly and the resulting vague PBJ taste was great even though it sounds weird. Even better was the Thursday night special wine and cheese flight. Mushroom pansotti was the best dish of the night--delicious little stuffed pasta with a heap of nicely sauteed shrooms on top. I'll be back soon. Oh and our server, Lydia, was outstanding. Or rather the service was outstanding, as there were several team players taking care of everything perfectly.

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Last night was my 4th time to Iron Bridge. My opinion of the place improves with each visit and last night's meal was certainly the best I've had there. I started with a Marlborough sauvignon blanc at the bar. Acidic lip-smackingly good sauv blanc you'd expect from that region for $8/glass. My app was the soup of the day, a creamy mushroom soup topped with crispy shallots and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, rich and delicious. The crispy shallots could have been crispier, but that would be serious nit-picking. At this point, our bottle of pinot had arrived (no "corkage" on Thursdays until 9 so you only pay the retail price for the bottle) - an elegant pinot from the Russian River Valley, the 2006 Joseph Swann, that I would highly recommend. It paired PERFECTLY with my friend's app - a sausage made of duck, foie gras, and sauternes served on mashed potatoes with a basic sauce. The sausage was out of this world and it really was one of those pairings that you experience rarely. For my entree, I got the sablefish, which was cooked nicely and topped with a bed of greens and served alongside barley that was flavored with a sweet chili oil and topped with roasted mushrooms. Not a "must have" dish if I go back but each component was very good and it all went nicely together. My friend got a second app for his entree, the seared foie gras poutine. The foie was exceptional, seared very nicely and the whole dish was delicious - we both agreed though that the sauce should have been on the side though as the fries were swimming in it and mushy by the time the dish arrived. Still a delicious dish. Overall, an excellent meal and I'm looking forward to going back again soon.

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Back to back posts from me, a sign that not enough DR members are going to Iron Bridge I think. I continue to be impressed by this place. I really have no idea what happened with my first visit there - if it was too close to when they opened or just off nights - but my later experiences are a testament to not judging a place on one meal.

I went a couple of weekends ago on a Saturday, mid-afternoon to do some blind wine tasting as practice for the blind tasting group I'm in. The bartender was more than accommodating and chose 5 wines for me to taste blindly. Of course, I couldn't go and not eat so I got the homemade potato chip and foie gras dip app - you cannot go wrong with foie at Iron Bridge, chips were nice and crispy and well seasoned and the dip was creamy and delicious. Not a strong foie flavor - not a downfall imo, but a note in case that's what anyone might expect. I followed that up with the gnocchi w/bison ragout and arugula pesto. I expected the bison to be braised/"pulled", but it was actually ground. It was a delicious dish - I would have thought it too heavy for the summer, but the arugula pesto balanced it nicely.

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Back to back posts from me, a sign that not enough DR members are going to Iron Bridge I think.

For whatever it's worth, I tried for Sunday brunch a couple of months ago - I was literally driving up New Hampshire Avenue towards Route 108 and called them, but they only had spaces at the bar available, and I was with my mom (so we ended up at El Andariego, a Salvadoran-Mexican restaurant in Ashton).

Cheers,

Rocks

[P.S. The recent addition of just a few good, solid members has pushed me to the verge of moving this forum back to where it deserves to be. A few more new members? Please? I don't want the forum to be dominated by only a few people, even though they are impressive people. The reason I can't just do it willy-nilly, and hope for the best, is that readers here do not like seeing big changes - and I don't want to change the basic look of the home page twice if the Baltimore forum fails again (although that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world even if it does happen). Thank you to all new members from Howard County, Baltimore, and Annapolis for being active here.]

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Bee a while since I have been here. Went with ex-coworkers from years ago that I still keep in touch with where Columbia or Ellicott City is a good central point to meet. This time we chose here.

They do not take parties of larger than 4 for online ressies, but if you make one and then call, they can probably handle it.

I had some deep fried sweetbreads with some white cream sauce and hunks of crab I think to start. Not the best sweetbreads I have had, but certainly not the worst. But, I have to say, my first attempt to make sweetbreads a year or so ago was better than this. Still, enjoyable if pricey.

I moved on to the burger, which was....fine. Ordered medium rare it came out just past medium, but I was too engaged in conversation with friends to make a deal about it. The fries were quite good, but aioli was overpowered by whatever they used to make it smell like truffles - most likely truffle oil since I saw no sign of flecks of truffle in the aioli. Passed on dessert as I was full. Drank a quaffable valpolicella ripasso which was good enough for the price, but kind of lacking. These guys seem a lot stronger on domestic wines. This is a little bit of a shame since there are some excellent wines from Spain for a really reasonable price that would make regulars out of people that would otherwise only come once in a while....

All in all a decent outing. Friends has a pasta dish that looked good, but overly sauced, and a glorious beef dish (shoulder I think? not sure) that looked great and smelled amazing.

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Creme brulee is one of those dishes that I generally never order out anymore since it is so easy to make and experiment with, but good to hear they have a good rendition!

By the way, I do have to say, the service was quite good when we were there, which is great. So often these days, service is an afterthought and we had some good folks looking after us.

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We were looking for a place for dinner last night after our first visit to Manor Hill Brewing Company and lucked out snagging 2 seats at the bar right as we arrived (tables were booked until 10:45). I wondered if it would still be as good as on previous visits and it was. 

We started with the deviled eggs with crispy chicken skins (excellent), the pimiento cheese spread, which had a lovely heat and was served with perfectly charred bread and especially tasty pickled vegetables, and the grilled octopus, a cold dish with 2 really tender pieces of octopus alongside white beans, pea shoots, ricotta, cucumber and another component or two I'm forgetting.  My only nitpick was the octopus dish was underseasoned unless you got a decent amount of cheese, which didn't happen with each bite although my friend didn't agree. 

I chose a stone bass with fiddleheads, morels, potatoes, walnut-truffle emulsion and a sherry gastrique for my entree. Really delicious, the fish was cooked well with a nice crispy skin, the fiddleheads had a lovely nearly charred crisp and the emulsion brought a rich element to the dish.  My friend had the burger and fries for his entree. Burger was cooked as ordered - very good burger, good bun, I again thought it was underseasoned, while my friend disagreed. The fries and garlic aioli are addictive. 

Dessert was a delicious bread pudding with a warm caramel sauce. They had said it contained chocolate and dates, which didn't excite me, so it was to my pleasant surprise when we got apple and pecan. The bread pudding was rich, but not overly so with a nice crispy top. 

I had 2 Austrian wines that paired very well with my dishes, the Hugel pinot grigio with our apps and the Hillinger pinot noir with the fish. Both are currently available as part of a "pinot" flight that includes a second pinot noir from Argentina. I opted for glasses of the 2 rather than the flight, but I did have the opportunity to taste the other pinot, which was also really good, just more full bodied and fruit forward.

Service from the bartender was friendly and mostly efficient. 

It's clearly been too long since I've been here. It's a little pricey for me to make it a regular stop, but I'm going to make a point to get there more frequently. 

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Had a lovely dinner with a lovely gal here last night. The space is so darn cute, but lighting is a little low, and I got a little sleepy after all the food.

To drink, she got the Malbec by the glass and I had a Radler and Rye (Radlers are becoming a new favorite, so light and refreshing, and adding the Rye is a nice idea). We started with cheese and charcuterie. We had the pecorino, the blue, the wild boar pate, and the sopressata. All were great, I think was expecting the pate to be spicier, based on the menu, but it really wasn't. 

It was restaurant week, so 3 courses was $42. The entree and appetizer essentially cost about $40-45, so you're getting dessert free. It ended up being way too much food, because of the cheese and charcuterie to start. So, if you're not a big eater, skip that part. I got the insalata de mare, with blue crab meat, octopus, shrimp, capers, fingerling potatoes, etc. It was very good, but very caper-y, and if that's a taste that's not ideal for you, well they are mostly at the bottom, so just leave them there. My dining companion had the ahi tuna poke, and that was a really good appetizer, very fresh fish, a bit spicy, and on crispy rice paper. That could have been enough... But the entrees still awaited.

We got additional drinks, she got a California Grenache/Syrah blend that she liked better than the Malbec, and I got an IPA from Laurel, MD, that was pretty good. I got the roast chicken, and she got the pork rib chop. The roast chicken was cooked by Sue Vida, so it was very tender. Her pork chop was very tasty, cooked about medium. We barely ate half of the entrees. Her knife was dull, so at first she though it was a gristly cut, but gave her mine and it worked a lot better. There was a significant delay between appetizer and entree (about 25 minutes), clearly noticed by the water, but man they were busy. Got the desserts to go, and the cheesecake bread pudding and panna cotta are sitting in refrigerators right now. They look tasty.

With tax and tip, just short of $200. Not cheap. But really high quality prep and food and space. 

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