Henninger's Tavern

By Cathy Adams

     How does a restaurant with a lousy location and no parking successfully stay in business for 10 years? By offering well prepared, interesting food and an off beat atmosphere, that's how.

     The husband and wife team, Kenny and Jayne Vieth purchased the tiny Bank Street establishment when the previous owners were ready to retire. "It fell into our laps," said Kenny. They lived in the neighborhood and were patrons when the Henninger's were ready to sell, and the Vieth's wanted to open their own place. Kenny joked "I didn't know how to do anything else," since he had worked in the restaurant business since he was a teenager. Jayne, the chef, had worked at several fine dining restaurants, incuding the Brighton Cafe at the Harbor Court hotel and is a graduate of the Baltimore Culinary College. With a little financial assistance from their parents, they opened their own restaurant.

     Unlike other Fell's Point bars and restaurants Henninger's doesn't cater to a younger crowd. "The 20-somethings are not comfortable in here," said Veith, with no loud music, video games, cheap draft beer or hamburgers. Henninger's fits a "niche market," said Kenny, "we never expected it to catch on."

     The menu, which changes every two weeks, emphasizes seafood, and recently featured Chilean Black Bass served with Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and a Balsamic and chive vinaigrette; Rainbow Trout layered with smoked salmon and stuffed with crab meat and portabella mushrooms with a cream sherry-shrimp sauce and jumbo lump crabcakes served with a basil Aioli (recipe follows).

     Grilled Filet Mignon with a Shiraz Demi-Glace with roasted wild mushrooms, and fresh sage and a horseradish and maple glazed Pork Chop served with an Applejack Demi-Glace and red onion confit are among the meat dishes offered. Veith said two of the most popular dishes are the appetizer of Pan Fried Breaded Oysters, served on a bed of spinach with a Pernod and fennel cream sauce and the mussels steamed in white wine and garlic butter.

     The housemade desserts include favorites like Key Lime Pie, apple pie, Oreo cookie ice cream pie, cheesecake, chocolate brownie or lemon cheesecake, and Chocolate Oblivion. The wine list features "all stuff I like; there's nothing [on the list] I wouldn't drink," said Veith, "Pinot Blancs and Sauvignon Blancs are my favorites." Henninger's serves seven wines by the glass, and bottles range from $16-$39.

     The dining room and bar are decorated with an eclectic assortment of mirrors, old pictures, "chessecake" photos and even old World War II bombs painted and hanging from the ceiling, most of it found in the neighborhood.

     "Everything in here is stuff I find interesting," Veith said. He pointed out the FBI wanted posters of the Symbionese Liberation Army, minus the one for Patty Hearst, and said that a guy off the street came in selling them. He also pointed out the picture of the guy with a pair of boxing gloves attached to the bottom frame that he picked up for $3.00.

     Veith has placed a ban on using cell phones in the dining room. He described a night when in the 28 seat dining room a young girl chatted during the meal, describing almost bite by bite what everyone was eating, at another table a young guy was having a conversation and at a table of four two of the diners were using their cell phones. "It's upset a few people, but our dining room is too small," he said, adding that people were welcome to use their phones in the bar or step outside.

Henninger's Tavern Fresh Basil Aioli

serve with crab cakes instead of tartar sauce

makes approximately 2 1/2 cups



  1. Place yolks, salt and garlic in a food processor. Slowly add 1 cup of the oil while the motor is running, to emulsify (thicken) the yolk mixture.
  2. Add the basil. Then alternately add the remaining oil with the lemon juice. Puree until bright green and the consistency of a thin mayonnaise. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

     *Because of the possibility of salmonella poisoning from using uncooked egg yolks most restaurants are using pasteurized eggs in dressings and sauces which I have had no success in finding in supermarkets. If you don't want to use raw yolks, substitute mayonnaise for the yolks, oil. Adjust the amount of seasoned salt and lemon juice to taste. - CA

Henninger's Tavern
1812 Bank Street
Baltimore, MD
(410) 342-2172
Appetizers: $3.75-$9.75
Entrees: $14.95-$20.75
Restaurant Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 5-10 -- Friday and Saturday 5-11
Bar Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 5-1

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