By Karlyn DeSteno
The time has come. You are throwing a surprise birthday party for your best friend or an anniversary dinner for your parents and you find yourself asking, “What’s the largest bar around here?” Whether you’re going to have a large sit- down dinner or just drinks and appetizers, you need enough space so everyone feels comfortable. Here are our suggestions for bars to rent out for large parties and group outings.
In the heart of Fells Point, the Olive Room sets out to pamper private parties of up to 100, and serves up some of Baltimore’s most widely praised cuisine, Greek-style. The Olive Room is situated at the top of the Inn at the Black Olive, and features wraparound windows with harbor front views, outdoor seating for summertime, and a sleekly simple, modern décor that will complement any occasion. Above all, prepare to be treated to the freshest fish in the Baltimore-D.C. area. The cooks recommend you come and pick out your own fish before it’s cooked. The cuisine is fresh, simple, and delicate, and the service aims to please. Besides the must-have seafood, we recommend the generous, flakey spanikopita, kakavia, grilled octopus, and house-made sorbets. A full bar, excellent beer list, and private wine cellar promise to meet the needs of each of your guests. Rooms at the Black Olive Inn are available 365 days a year for any of your out-of-town guests, and each room includes a basic organic breakfast for two.
If getting away from it all is more your style, we recommend the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, Md., though the ambiance definitely takes precedence over the cuisine. Two 19th century manors are lovingly preserved in ornate décor, including a fireplace, dance floor, and covered porches overlooking the Patapsco River, situated on several acres of greenery. The Elkridge can accommodate up to 50 guests seated in a single room, or up to 125 guests throughout the rooms of the house. For events between April and December, a heated dining patio seating 175 is available for dinner parties. The Manor Inn is open year-round to accommodate your out-of-town guests. The cuisine is fine, versatile French-American fare. We suggest taking an active role in planning your event’s menu to be sure you get what you intend, as the cooks work to order.
There was a saying in my Italian family when I was a kid, which goes roughly, “You never age as long as you’re around the table with family and friends.” Dinners were hours-long affairs. La Scala’s intimate dining rooms, built for comfort, chatter, and maintaining a steady wine buzz, are ideally suited to that art of the slow, savored meal, and you and your guests will enjoy taking your time through one of La Scala’s four course, prixe fixe group menus. The entire restaurant can seat 180 guests, but the restaurant is organized into smaller, intimate rooms and nooks, perfect for relaxation and wine-infused conversation among business partners, friends, or loved ones. The chefs specialize in traditional Italian fare, done with two parts loving adherence to Italian culinary tradition, and one part taste local innovation. (I don’t remember my dad cooking Veal Scalloppini topped with jumbo lump crab meat, gulf shrimp, sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and white wine sauce with Old Bay—but I now I wish he had.) La Scala also features Baltimore’s only indoor bocce ball court.
Karlyn DeSteno is a writer and artist living in Baltimore, Md.