Restaurant Deconstructed: July/August 2015
Magdalena shines bright in the newly refurbished Ivy Hotel.

Eddie and Sylvia Brown first looked at the Inn at Government House in MountVernon with an eye toward adding some office space for Eddie’s firm, Brown Capital Management. But after taking in the elegant carved woodwork, the leaded glass windows and the soaring spaces in the 1889 house, says Sylvia, “We thought we could do a little bit more.” Partnering with Marty and Lone Azola, whose Azola Companies did the painstaking renovation of the office building across the street, the Browns are shooting for the coveted Relais & Château designation for the new Ivy Hotel and its restaurant, Magdalena. “That’s the kind of caliber we want,” says Sylvia of the boutique property that opened in June with 18 lavish rooms, nine of which are suites. There is also a new spa that uses lovely organic products, handmade in small batches.

Chef Mark Levy prepares his delicate quail dish.

Chef. Mark Levy, 37, was born in Essex in the U.K. and came to the U.S. to work at Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Va. “I’d never seen anything like it,” says Levy, whose only experience in America had been two trips to Disney World after his parents split up. “I always thought their divorcewas the best thing,” he laughs. Accustomed to “rough and tumble” pubs, Levy had trouble adjusting to the precision of a professional kitchen.

“I was on my way out the door,” recalls the chef, until he had amoment of clarity and picked up his game. He later helmed the kitchen at The Point Resort—the former Rockefeller summer camp in Saranac, N.Y.—until he was beckoned away by the exclusive Garrett Hotel Consultants, who were working with the Browns and the Azolas. Levy has been in Baltimore for about a year, learning the ropes and sampling the food.

Roasted quail plated with carrot puree and fresh asparagus.

Food. Magdalena says Levy, is a “fine dining bistro, casual with no white gloves,” where he uses “local, rare and obscure ingredients” to craft the changing menu.

Appetizers may include a chilled local crab with balsamic caramel, aubergine chips and coconut lime jelly or potato gnocchi with seared foie gras, peas and aged pecorino. His fish and chips is turbot dipped in aerated batter for a light crisp.

“We want to become the best restaurant in town,” says the chef, even as he recognizes the competition. Spike Gjerde and Cindy Wolf, he says, “have conceptualized what this city is about, from the gutsy butcher to the fine restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised when I moved here and saw what people were doing.”

Bartender Kevin Jones shakes things up.

Drink. The small bar “will have a bartender, not a mixologist,” says Levy, admittedly weary of “having to wait 10 minutes for a fussy drink.” The bar menu will include four classics, four seasonal cocktails and five beers with two locals on tap. “The beer around here is brilliant,” says the Brit. “Absolutely brilliant.” The mostly American wine list numbers 150, with bottles stored in a cellar-level dining room available for special events. And there will be mead—from Orchid Cellar in Middletown, Md.


Décor. San Francisco-based interior designer Joszi Meskan has infused the grand 19th-century spaces of the Ivy with respectful whimsy, channeling an eccentric and well-traveled aunt. The walls of the library are clad in green leather embossed with gilt trim, reminiscent of an antique book, while the music room (which will likely host more roundtables than rondos) is painted in a cubist-style mural that Levy jokingly describes as “Picasso’s Baltimore period.” Local artist Kim Parr has decorated the restaurant walls as a 16th-century garden of vines and vegetables.

A table seats eight in the wine room(the restaurant is comprised of several small rooms situated in old servants’ quarters).

Final Verdict. As Sylvia Brown, who never imagined she’d be a hotelier, puts it: “Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.” And delicious.  —M.T.


Natural born grillers
Give that same-old summer menu a rest by grilling up sweet and savory surprises this season
By Tracey Middlekauff

When it’s too hot and humid to even think about heating up the kitchen, those of us lucky enough to have a bit of outdoor space begin to look at our grills as necessities rather than luxuries. But, just as with anything else in life, it’s all too easy to fall into a rut. After all, man cannot live by hamburgers and hot dogs alone. (No, really. You can’t.) To help keep your dinners interesting and diverse during these long, sultry days, I’ve put together some alternatives to the burger/chicken/steak grilling paradigm.

First up: beef satay with spicy peanut dipping sauce. Is there anything more fun than eating meat on a stick? These crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside skewers are, in a word, addictive. The marinade—fragrant with lemongrass, ginger, garlic and cilantro—smells so good you might be tempted to devour the strips of flank steak raw, but do wait until the grill has imparted its charred goodness to the meat.

Grilled salads are one of my favorite summertime sides. Here, the kale and radicchio get charred and crispy; the endive’s bitterness turns buttery; and the whole lot is balanced with mild ricotta and tangy, sweet balsamic vinegar.

I tend to prefer savory foods over sweet ones, and because of that I realize there has been a dearth of desserts in these pages of late. To rectify that state of affairs, I made not one but two sweet grilled treats. Pound cake doesn’t really need any help to be delicious, but grilling it makes it even more luscious; serve it up with a dollop of mascarpone and a mixed berry compote, and you’ve got a colorful dessert home run.

Finally, grilling pineapple caramelizes the sugar and makes a piece of healthy fruit seem decadent. As for the butterscotch sauce…it is decadent, and if you can manage not to lap up all of the leftovers straight off the spoon, then I admire your self-control.

Note: All instructions refer to a charcoal grill. For a gas grill, use the same temperatures and times; these dishes also could be cooked on a griddle pan on the stove.

Grilled Pineapple with Vanilla Mochi & Boozy Butterscotch Sauce

Serves 2

4 Slices cored pineapple, about ½-inch thick

Melted butter, for brushing

2 Pieces vanilla mochi ice cream
Fresh mint, for garnish

For the Boozy Butterscotch Sauce:
(makes about 1 cup—you will have extra, and you will be very glad!)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream

Fresh vanilla (from approx. 1-inch
of a fresh vanilla bean)

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more
to taste

2 tablespoons bourbon

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook until it liquefies. Whisk in the cream, vanilla and salt. Bring to a gentle boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon. Allow to cool—if the sauce seems thin when it’s hot, don’t worry, it will thicken as it cools.

Meanwhile, brush the pineapple slices on both sides with melted butter. Grill over medium high heat for about 3 minutes per side, until heated through and grill marks appear. Serve 2 slices of pineapple with a piece of mochi ice cream, and drizzle generously with the butterscotch sauce. Garnish with fresh mint.

Charred Salad with Kale, Endive, Radicchio & Ricotta

serves 2

4 leaves kale

4 leaves radicchio

2 endive, split lengthwise

3-4 tablespoons ricotta

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Balsamic vinegar

Lightly coat the kale, radicchio and endive with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Grill the kale for about 30 seconds per side, until slightly charred around the edges; do the same for the radicchio. Grill the endive cut-side down for about 1 minute. Serve with dollops of ricotta and a drizzle of
balsamic vinegar.

Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

makes 24 satay skewers

1½ pounds flank steak

1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

4 tablespoons neutral oil (such as grapeseed)

Juice from 1 lemon or lime

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Small handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Peanut Sauce:
½ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup hot water

1 teaspoon sugar

Juice from ½ lemon

2 tablespoons Huy Fong chili garlic sauce (or more, to taste)

Cut flank steak in half lengthwise (with the grain), then cut into 2- to 3-inch strips approximately 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch thick. (Note: If you have a hard time slicing the steak thin enough, put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes then slice it.)

Mix the ingredients for the marinade, add steak strips and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce. Add the hot water to the peanut butter and stir in all the other ingredients. If the sauce is too thick, add water. Cover and set aside. While the grill heats to high, thread 2 steak strips onto each skewer. Brush the grill lightly with oil, and cook the skewers over the hottest part of the grill for approximately 3 minutes per side. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with the peanut sauce.

Grilled Pound Cake with Mixed Berry Compote & Mascarpone

makes enough compote for 4-6 slices pound cake

For the compote:
1½ cups ripe mixed berries (I used blackberries, blueberries and red raspberries)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon honey

Fresh vanilla, from approx. ¼ inch of vanilla bean

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon mascarpone per slice of pound cake

Pound cake, sliced into 1-inch slices

Melted butter, for brushing

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine the compote ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until the fruit has softened and released some of its juice. Allow to cool—it will thicken slightly.

Meanwhile, brush the pound cake on each side with melted butter. Grill over medium heat for 1 minute per side, or until it has crisped slightly. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone and a generous helping of the berry compote.

Drink Me: Mirror, Mirror

We all know water is our natural ally for healthy, radiant skin. Less well-known are its valuable contributions to the world of cocktails. Without adding anything unnecessary, water opens up the complex botanicals in spirits where sugar-based mixers can dampen them. Try this light and refreshing recipe for relaxing poolside this summer.

1¼ oz VeeV Acai Berry spirit
¼ oz Art in the Age Sage spirit
¼ oz Fee Brothers Lavender water
Your favorite filtered or sparking water

In a Collins glass over ice combine spirits and lavender water. Top with your favorite still water and garnish with a thin lemon slice.

By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East and founder of Baltimore Cocktail Week.

Follow Us
Style Pinterest
Style Instagram
Style Twitter
Style Facebook