It may have been snowing on Saturday night, but a little snow didn’t keep us indoors, as we headed out for a night of dinner and drinks at Arundel Mills. We ended up at DuClaw Brewing Company and while we have been visiting this spot for years, we were still just as satisfied as we were the first time we went.
Though we had a party of 7, we didn’t wait long for a table (which may be a sign of the times as the restaurants in the mall were unusually slow for a Saturday night.) The service was mediocre, though we were impressed that they let us hold our table even though half our party didn’t show up until we were done our first round of entrees. (Our only real complaint came from the fact that our drink orders were messed up and we had a slight switch on the sauces we ordered – but nothing too major.) We got seated in the back of the restaurant up along their floor-to-ceiling windows. We have to say these seats were cool, as they allowed for great people-watching views of holiday shoppers racing around the mall. The overall ambience of the restaurant was great, not too loud and not too quiet, low-lit enough that you didn’t feel like you were in a diner, but definitely not so low that you felt weird that you weren’t on a date.
When our food arrived, we were definitely pleased. First up was our appetizer, the loaded nachos. They were definitely yummy, especially considering that this wasn’t a Mexican establishment. Yes, they could have had more variety of toppings in guacamole and salsa, but all your basics were there – sour cream, beans, cheese, peppers. And all the chips were covered in melty cheeses and were created with the multi-colored tortilla chips that are hearty and a personal favorite. Next came our entrees. With an extensive menu that includes basics like sandwiches and burgers, and more elaborate dishes like seafood and pasta, DuClaw offered a dish for our party’s wide range of taste buds. The paninis that were ordered were scrumptious (though with buttered sourdough bread, this is not the most health-conscious option on the menu – but let’s face it, that makes it much more delicious.) They were hot and melty, but not messy, and the seasoning of their chicken was perfect. And though they weren’t the healthy variety you can stir up at your local Panera’s, these paninis were equally as good as the Panera variety, if not better for their “real meat” take on what has become a “deli meat” staple. The fries that accompanied the sandwich (for an extra 50 cents versus the chips) were pretty good as well, though not the best we’ve ever had, and we were hoping for a bigger portion of these side items. Pasta dishes were also ordered, and while good and readily devoured, they left their consumers wanting just a little something more. While the sauces seemed aligned with the accompanying meat in the dish, and the meals came with a seasoned piece of toast which added to its flare, there was no “zest” or originality that gave these dishes anything to overtly praise. Overall, the food was good, maybe not the best we’ve ever had, but definitely worth another trip, and we liked it enough to rapidly devour our leftovers the next day.
But as its name suggests, DuClaw is better enjoyed for its drinks. A Brewery as well as a restaurant, DuClaw’s has a collection of about 6 or 7 original beers on tap for you to enjoy. Their most popular beers are joined by seasonally rotated beers, and with every new beer comes a huge launch party where patrons can try it out for themselves. The originally-created beers feature both the light and fruity for the non-beer drinkers of the group, and the dark and hoppy for the more seasoned brew masters. Their “Misfit Red” has even been awarded the Best Beer title by Baltimore Magazine in the past. These beers are relatively cheap as well for original creations, setting you back only about $4 a pop. The bar section of the restaurant is a great atmosphere, with sports and news playing on their multiple TV screens that are hung throughout the space (instead of just at the bar, which makes it difficult to see once the place gets crowded.) With music, and a much livelier atmosphere than the dining area, the bar is where DuClaw’s really heats up. Their full menu is still available for order here, and while you often can’t find a table to eat your food on because it is so crowded, there are extra chairs located around the back walls to allow for more seating and a chance to enjoy your favorite appetizer. So if you’re sick of going to bars and ordering the same brand name beers off tap, DuClaw’s is waiting to show-off their unique creations, which are sure to please even your most discerning beer aficionado.
Overall, we left remaining huge fans of the DuClaw’s in Arundel Mills. We think we’ll go back one day after work to truly enjoy the beer selections and bar atmosphere, and let the best part of DuClaw’s really shine.