More Than Just Jazz: Phaze 10 offers up comforting soul in social atmosphere

When Phaze 10 (855 N. Howard St., [410]-462-2010, first opened a few years ago, it mostly got attention for its jazz-bar vibe, winning Best New Place for Jazz from City Paper in 2012 and hosting several live music acts a week. But the lounge, settled along Howard Street between an old antique shop and a tattoo parlor, also offers a delicious, Southern-inspired menu to go with its music and social atmosphere.

As we walked in, we could hear the ’90s Biggie Smalls’ classic ‘Fuck You Tonight’ featuring R. Kelly playing from the lounge and bar areas on the first floor of the multilevel space. We’d arrived during Soul Food Tuesday, Phaze 10’s weekly happy-hour event with a DJ spinning R&B live on the first floor. A host of customers were sitting and standing around the lounge as they enjoyed the music, food, and cocktails.

The bartender mixed us some of Phaze 10’s signature drinks—the Hennessy Apricot ($10) was a fusion blend of Hennessy VS, apricot brandy, orange juice, and ginger ale, while the Island Margarita ($10) combined light tequila, Grand Marnier, triple sec, and cranberry, pineapple, and lime juices. As we sipped our drinks, we ordered the wings ($10) from Phaze 10’s appetizer menu. We chose the Old Bay wings—other flavor options were buffalo and jerk—and received the best honey Old Bay wings we have tasted in a while. The wings were cooked until the skin, which had been coated with a sweet cream butter and then a honey sauce before being topped with Old Bay, was crispy, with the honey providing a sweetness for the savory, juicy wings. The light, creamy house ranchlike sauce that came on the side kept us guessing at its contents as we dipped our celery in it, licking the sauce away.

With the taste of sweet honey lingering on our tongues, we eyed the dinner menu. The New Orleans Catch ($17-19, price varies) consists of catfish (which you can order lightly fried or blackened) with a Creole tartar sauce on the side. The fried catfish was evenly coated in a light batter and fried to a beautiful golden color. We bit into the crunchy outer shell,a Cajun Creole mix with cornmeal-style breading, and were rewarded with the warm and light-tasting fish. The mustardlike sauce complemented the fish, and balanced the crunchy fried layer with a bit of spice. The dish was accompanied by two sides; we chose mashed potatoes and a warm Southern succotash.

The St. Louis Ribs ($22 for a full rack, $18 for a half rack) had been cooked three times, the last of which was on the grill, resulting in some seriously tender meat. The ribs were covered in a rich, thick bourbon-chipotle barbecue sauce. We got the ribs with a generous helping of fresh braised collards, creamy macaroni and cheese, and cornbread. The collards were cooked long enough to absorb flavor of the spices, and had just the right texture, smooth and not soggy. The macaroni had a distinct taste: creamy and lightly seasoned, with a blend of cheeses like no other we’ve had. Chef Patrick Robinson didn’t want to spill all his secrets of the dish, but told us it was made with heavy cream, white wine, and asiago cheeses. The cornbread was as thick as a double-layer cake, buttery, sweet, and very authentic, with melted honey butter topping off the huge piece we were served.

For dessert, Robinson surprised us with an apple pie bread pudding ($8), a dessert special for the night that was served with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with a raspberry melba sauce and coffee-chocolate glaze, and garnished with fresh cream and strawberries. The bread pudding crust reminded us of a graham cracker pie crust and was paired with warm cinnamon glazed apples. We could taste the cinnamon, brown sugar, and an almost caramelized flavor. It was moist, scrumptious, and sweet, and was complemented well by the ice cream. The raspberry melba sauce was like a jam, balancing the dark coffee-chocolate glaze trickled onto the plate. We rolled our strawberries into the chocolate, completely satisfied.

Phaze 10 introduced a carry-out grill menu earlier this year, so that you can get its Southern food to go. But given the warm atmosphere, good service, and the comfortable social setting, we’d recommend settling in at the lounge for a night of jazz and good conversation. 

Phaze 10 is open Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Tuesday 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday 4 p.m.-11 p.m., Friday 4 p.m.-2 a.m., and Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Copyright © 2019, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy