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Canteen opens in Station North

November 7, 2013

_DSC0438-2(1)Dane Nester is as much an artist as he is cook or restaurateur. As he did with his last venture, Cafe Sage (which still exists but has nothing to do with Nester any longer) Nester brings poetry and a deep sense of experimentation to the newly opened Canteen (1821 N. Charles), which took over the location that used to house Bohemian. Where Bohemian always felt a bit stuffy and cluttered, Canteen is bright, luminous, airy. The window is full of the micro-greens that Nester grows for salads and behind the bar you spy all sorts of coffee apparatus and jars of various herbs and teas–including yerba mate, which they sell both in the (relatively) traditional way, with a filtered straw (though in a glass beaker instead of a gourd), and as club mate, where the super energetic South American herb is carbonated. We are huge mate fans and ordered both forms of the tea and a coffee. (Nester says that Dan Deacon brought them the straws back from a recent trip to South America).
The menu at Canteen is adventurous and yet still somewhat limited. Gerri Mack, who was recently cooking up great pork-belly tacos and ox-tail stew at Bohemian, will be making dinner, while Australian-transplant Christian Best, of the band Smoke Bellow makes lunch (Full disclosure: Smoke Bellow used to share a practice space with this writer). We ordered the duck, pickle, and coconut melt ($6.95), which sounds insane but was absolutely divine. Seriously, the bread was perfectly crisp with thinly-sliced, pastrami-like duck and layers of thin pickle and onion. The flavors were bold, intense, and yet also comforting.

Canteen is the kind of place you could sit and while away the day engrossed in the gorgeous atmosphere, delicious food, and pleasant conversation. As we were about to leave, Best asked if we wanted to try a Szechuan fruit, a crazy little fruit that makes your mouth numb and tingly with a super intense taste. It was the wildest thing I’d ever put in my mouth. Nester grows them himself (he also makes honey) just for experimenting.

And speaking of experimenting, we got a club mate to go because we couldn’t wait to see how it would go with Pikesville. We’ve got to say that every bar in the country ought to throw away your Red Bull crap and get this stuff. But, in the meantime, I think we’ll be hanging out at Canteen quite often, working our way through the still-evolving menu.

Tour Canteen in our photo gallery.

  • canteen

    Gerry Mak was formerly cooking at the Beatnik, and also cooked at Cafe Sage along with Nester.

  • Sarah

    Canteen is love.

    Beyond serving great food and coffee- this place is therapeutic. It’s lush and warm and the nimble attention to detail will make you into a more cohesive human being, at least for a moment.

  • nattyboo

    new chef- gooooood. “feels bright and airy”- goooooood. now, if they could just staff it with people that show some level of desire to actually work- you know make the food and serve it to customers, Station North might have a new spot for me to eat. Seriously The Bohemian had some of the worst, laziest staff ANYWHERE. I hope it is a new owner and not just a new manager/chef(article doesn’t really make that clear) because they were seriously slack….