Meet at Fins: Great bar food, beachy vibe in O’Donnell Square

Written by on October 12, 2011 in Baltimore Bites - No comments

Fins, the Canton Square restaurant with the beach shack vibe, is a great place to spend a happy hour. The U-shaped bar is big and has about 50 seats around its black granite counter, and the bottles on the bar’s speed rail would be top shelf in many places around town.

Fins is the kind of place where you don’t feel silly putting a wedge of lime in the neck of your beer bottle. And in the middle of winter, the tropical murals of palm trees, sunny beaches and colorful birds can warm you up, or failing that, send you to your travel agent for tickets to Cabo.

There are outdoor tables as well, and the bar side of the restaurant has its shutters open to O’Donnell Square for a nice hacienda feel.

Anyhow, you can certainly satisfy your Margaritaville yearnings at Fins, and you can also get some good food.
As you would expect, the place specializes in seafood—so naturally, when we stopped in for lunch recently, one of us ordered the meatloaf.

The meatloaf—nicely baked, soft and tasty, with a good crust and a generous ladling of mushroom gravy—is proof that Fins does well with dishes that don’t have fins. It came with mashed potatoes, as meatloaf always should, and corn for $12.99, and there was a good half-pound of meatloaf on the plate. If you are craving red meat but you are not in the mood for a burger and can’t afford a steak, the meatloaf might hit the spot.

We also tried the tuna grinder, which is much better than it sounds. Here’s how you make one–you make an Albacore tuna salad with red onions, celery, and seasonings including a whiff of Old Bay, and you put two big scoops of it on a soft sub roll. Put a big slice of Provolone cheese on each scoop, and put the whole thing under the broiler until the cheese melts and the tuna gets a little brown. Serve it with fries on the side. “It’s a lot like a crab cake sandwich,” said Mary Helen, who was quite happy with her choice, and especially with the price, which was only $8.

I got another special, a flatbread studded with andouille sausage, the hot and spicy kind, and sun dried tomatoes ($10.99). Flatbreads are just like pizzas, but a little smaller, amorphously shaped, without tomato sauce and with a thinner, crisper crust. Pizza has fallen out of style in foodie circles, but flatbread is all the rage. This one was delicious. The Andouille sausage was salty and the tomatoes were sweet, and holding the whole thing together was a layer of grated and melted fontina cheese. It would be great with a glass of chilled wine, or a cold beer with a lime in the neck of the bottle. Either way.

Fins is one of those restaurants that you can go to on a whim–it offers something to satisfy just about everyone in your group, as long as they’re not aggressively vegetarian. There’s the penne with tomato sauce and fresh basil ($10), and the French onion soup ($6), and that’s about it for hot food.

The appetizers look great—fried oysters with a jalapeño lime aioli, fried conch with lemon chili sauce, coconut shrimp, etc. Get a few of those in mid-January and dream of Key West. Oh, and Fins serves steamed shrimp, as good bars should. You can get their version, cooked in a broth, or the good old traditional Baltimore way with onions and Old Bay.

We had lunch for three, and got out of there for $37.36 including tax. The tip brought the bill to about $15 a person.

Fins, 2903 O’Donnell St. in O’Donnell Square, is open daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

by Jacqueline Watts

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