A couple of months into her new venture as head chef and chief Ball-jar-washer of the new Oliver Speck’s Eats and Drinks in Harbor East, Jesse Sandlin is feeling pretty good. “We’ve been getting busier and busier,” she says. The barbecue restaurant, named after Sandlin’s pet Juliana pig, opened in midsummer after the former “Top Chef” contestant shuttered Vino Rosina (her previous restaurant in the same space) for just a couple of weeks. While the décor hasn’t changed much—crowd-friendly communal tables have replaced room dividers, opening up the main dining area—the menu has burst an artery.
The predecessor’s fussy small plates have burgeoned into platters of pulled pork, smoked ribs and bison pastrami; plus, the requisite sides, from mashed ‘taters to country grits.
Sandlin and bar manager Alec Franklin also have brought the cocktail menu up to snuff. The chef put some apple cider in the kitchen smoker to create a smoky ice cube for their autumn Bulleit-Proof Apples cocktail made with Bulleit Rye and fresh lemon juice.
Look for prix fixe Sunday suppers throughout the winter.
507 S. Exeter St., 410-528-8600