On Tuesday night, Bond Street Social in Fells Point (901 S. Bond St.) previewed items from its new dinner menu for the Baltimore Area Concierge Association (BACA). This equated to a networking happy hour that didn't focus very much on the food, despite being advertised as such. Held in the back bar of the restaurant, the gathering was warm and intimate: Industrial imitation gas-light chandeliers and a circular fireplace in the center of the room, accented by cedar wall panels and black leather seats, created a romantic atmosphere in which to socialize. The Orioles game played on an abundance of flatscreen TVs in the bar, yet accomplished the feat of being unobtrusive.
The various dishes, passed as h'ors d'oeuvres throughout the evening, were a mix of new and familiar items from the restaurant's dinner menu. Although the food was not the rallying point of the happy hour, the dishes functioned as a pleasant backbone to the night’s conviviality. The majority of dishes were from the small plates section of Bond Street's menu, aptly titled "Bites." Easily shared with friends (the restaurant is a social club, after all), these bite-sized morsels pack a lot of flavor into small portions. The pulled duck confit arepas were a highlight, with a red-wine truffle glacé, served atop a crispy corn wafer that created a nicely balanced texture to the dish. The spicy lobster rangun’s cheesy filling was rich, but was offset by the delicate crunch of the wonton wrapper and sweet lemongrass dipping sauce.
For vegetarians, the restaurant offered lackluster deep-fried mac 'n' cheese bites and superior eggplant "meatballs." The concept of the mac 'n' cheese bites sounds like a stroke of pure genius: Take something already delicious and deep-fry it. Normally, this type of thing turns out to be pure foodie/stoner heaven, but unfortunately, the cheese in this dish can’t stand up to the heavy breading it's fried in. Thankfully, the eggplant "meatballs" were better—the deep-fried croquettes had roasted, not-at-all-mushy eggplant inside, and were served with a roughly chopped marinara finished with a light garlic parmesan sauce.
The pulled pork BBQ sandwiches were the only offering from the "Sliders" section of the menu, and were left over on quite a few plates. Although they were paired with sweet BBQ sauce, pickled red cabbage slaw, and avocado crème, the sliders still seemed a bit dry.
Possibly the high point of the happy hour was the bacon cheeseburger pizzeta, a crispy flatbread topped with bacon, ground beef, pickled red onion, sharp cheddar fondue, and a roasted tomato aoli. The next time I find myself in Fell’s, I will definitely be coming back to devour this pizzeta with one of the nicely selected local beers on tap.
The sampling event for BACA was by no means indicative of Bond Street Social’s complete menu, which has about double the number of "Bites," "Pizzetas" and "Sliders" than were served at the happy hour, not to mention additional "Soups & Salads," "Fork & Knife" dishes (main courses), and "Sides" that run the gamut from Southern comfort food to Bond Street Social's take on Italian, Asian, and Greek classics. The prices range from $8 for the cheapest bite to $26 for the most expensive entree, so saving or splurging is feasible, depending on your budget. Admittedly, the full menu was not on display at this event, but it served as a successful teaser to entice diners to come back for a closer look at its eclectic menu.