The Vegetarian Option: Though known for meat, Corner Charcuterie Bar offers plenty of treats

The Corner Charcuterie Bar (850 W. 36th St., [443] 869-5075) has gone through some rebranding since it opened. The restaurant was opened as the Corner BYOB (and was, as you would expect, BYOB). They then opened an attached charcuterie bar with a selection of cured meat, wines, cocktails, and a few Belgian beers. The exact nature of the bar and restaurant symbiosis seems to still be in evolution, but what hasn't changed is its reputation for strange and (so we're told) delicious meats. If you want kangaroo tartare or duck hearts, this is the place.

All that said, even if it's not entirely obvious at first glance, you can enjoy a delicious vegetarian meal here.

We started with a couple of its Belgian beers ($5-$8). Obviously if you want to drink Belgian beer for the sake of it, you're going to go down the road to De Kleine Duivel. For dinner accompaniments it was just fine—a pale ale, a brown ale, and a strong pale ale, just what we needed to wash down our speedily delivered order of Pommes Friets ($6), because of course we ordered friets. They're friets, why wouldn't you order them? But these friets were something special. A generous sprinkling of coarse salt and cracked black pepper took them to the next level, and the creamy custard-hued house mayo that accompanied them was just rich enough. This simple snack set the tone for the rest of our meal: everything expertly seasoned to where it was exciting and bold, without being overwhelming.

To follow the friets we ordered a cheese plate ($15). If you're feeling indecisive or overwhelmed, you can order the chef's choice. But because technically it's a charcuterie plate, you'd probably end up with some meat. We consulted with our server for her suggestions from the 10 available cheeses. She was incredibly knowledgeable about the offerings and took the time to suss out our preferences and give personalized recommendations. We went with the Carr Valley Marisa, a slightly tangy cave-aged sheep milk cheese, and Fleur Verte, an herb-coated chevre. And OK, our third choice was the speck, to appease our omnivorous dining partner. Eugh.

The cheeses, don't get us wrong, were both delicious. But what really stole our hearts was the dizzying array of pickles and spreads that accompanied them. We're even willing to forgive the fact they somewhat ridiculously refer to slices of bread as "bread coins." The smear of black-pepper honey and confit shallots were the stars, the perfect sweet and savory foils to both cheeses. The zerish, an Indian-spiced black currant chutney, was unlike anything we've ever had and paired well with the creamy chevre. The other nibbles were not quite as memorable but were serviceable in rounding out the plate: slightly spicy habanero pineapple cubes, a few slices of pickle, peppadews, brandied cherries. The only disappointment was the pickled fennel—it wasn't horrible, but the soy sauce marinade didn't seem to mesh with the rest of the plate.

When making our reservation, we had asked about a vegetarian entree, and we were assured they could accommodate. But if you just happened through and looked at the menu, you might not know it. We asked our server and were informed of the off-menu vegetable risotto ($23), kept fresh with whatever seasonal vegetables they have on hand. Ours had carrot, spinach, fennel, edamame, and button and shiitake mushroom caps. The complementary array of veggies helped cut the richness of the buttery, slow-cooked risotto. The seasoning was again impeccable, but it was hard to put a finger on exactly what made it so. The bright green drizzle of herb-infused oil was the perfect finishing touch. Seriously, Corner! Print this on the menu! Our server said that even though she's not a vegetarian, she orders it all the time. We think other people would too.

The Corner Restaurant and Charcuterie Bar is definitely not a place to be vegan. For a vegetarian who wants to treat themselves to a delightful spread of cheese, butter, and vegetables that taste good with cheese and butter, it's an absolute treat.

The Vegetarian Option tells you all you need to know about going meatless in Baltimore in the places you'd least expect it.

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