Friday night, spur of the moment dinner with four great friends, and we chose Clayton's in Federal Hill on Light Street, a couple of blocks south of the Cross Street Market. They don't seem to have a website, so I can't link them.
I used to go to this place when it was Sean Bolan's (RIP) and they had the beer club, trivia night and St. Pat's Day morning breakfast in PJ's. But it changed hands a couple of years ago. My friends, the Houplas, raved about the food, so we walked over there from their house. The host seated us in the empty upstairs, which was good, since the first floor was a bit smokey. We're all counting the days until Maryland bars go smoke free! Clayton's logo is fun - it looks like a ring from a wine glass, but they slap it on each page of the menu, which makes the menu hard to read.
We got the menus and immediately ordered the Maytag & Bacon Potatoes, and some drinks. The drinks came but the appetizers didn't... and still didn't until about 45 minutes after we'd ordered them. It didn't look like there were a lot of people downstairs eating (maybe 30 people total downstairs) and we were the only ones upstairs, so we had a hard time figuring out what the delay was. When the waitress finally brought them, she didn't have an explanation.K&N ordered rockfish and chips, and a burger. He-Houpla ordered the roasted pepper and whitefish soup and She-Houpla and I ordered half-pints of the Guinness stew, which is served in pint or half-pint glasses. It's their Guinness beef stew, topped with mashed potatoes to look like a drawn pint. Clever. She-Houpla and I also ordered the house salads, side-sized.
After another eternity, the food came. The soup was warm, not hot, but was good. The burger was fine. The rockfish and chips was huge with four fillets of rockfish. K said that she could have done with only one fillet. The salads were quite good - lots of blue cheese, pears and dried cranberries. The Guinness stew was hot and tasty and with the clever presentation, the hit of the evening.
We wanted after-dinner coffees and He-Houpla asked if the bar had Goslings Rum, which they didn't. He likes coffee, cream, Goslings and equal sweetner as a nightcap. That lead into discussions of other drinks, including a fave called a Purple Mother F*er. At that point, a bunch of 20-somethings had come in and were taking loud bets on whether one could tell the difference between Ketel One and Belvedere. We didn't care to find out whether he could.