At the top of the hill on historic Main Street on a sunny corner stands an old stone building with an imposing facade. The building started as the Talbot Lumber Company in the late 19th Century. Then in 1997, the Ellicott Mills Brewing Company [8308 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD 21043, 410-313-8141] opened to fulfill the owners’ vision of bringing a taste of Germany to patrons who appreciate award-winning European-style lagers made on the other side of a glass wall where you can watch the Master Brewer at work. We have no idea how many times we’d driven past, but we finally decided to walk inside. We’re so glad that we did because we’ve now been three times in two weeks.
Given the November chill, we appreciated the double entrance door that keep out the wind. Inside, the space opens up to impossibly high ceilings with a sweeping wooden staircase to the upper dining room. The bar seats twelve comfortably and the bench seating for the tables allows guests to be close to their party but not close to their neighbors. We like space between tables so you don’t have to climb over people to get out. The main floor feels light and airy without being cavernous and even though we got the last table on our first visit, the lunch rush noise level was surprisingly low. Carrie seemed to be working by herself, but she greeted us immediately and seated us with a bright smile. After telling us about the daily specials, she was quick to bring water and fresh-from-the-oven rolls.
Passing on the specials, we perused the American grill menu. So, when in Rome; you of course do Roman things. When in Ellicott City, Maryland, however, James orders the Cajun Alligator sauteed creole style with green peppers over a bed of rice for starters. (Do they fish them right out of the Patapsco River? lol) Fondly remembering a holiday market in Switzerland, Mia asked for the Sausage Sampler which included a bratwurst, a bauernwurst, red cabbage and some wonderful German mustard.
This was a working lunch, so we opened the laptops and prepared to stay for a while. (If you need internet access, the Court House wifi is the way to go.) Over the next three hours, Carrie’s service was friendly and the music was great– Mia sang along with most of it. The restrooms are very clean and spacious. Mia loved the unique sink in the ladies’ and on his way back from the men’s, James caught this snippet from the kitchen, “Nah, I fell in love with him before he was a brewer.”
For lunch James had a nice Croissant Club sandwich with a chicken breast on a buttery roll with fresh onions, lettuce, and tomatoes. The piece of chicken was too big for the pastry but the flakiness of the croissant made the sandwich. Mia chose the Stuffed Avocado Salad. It came on a bed of too much lettuce, but the portion size of the big shrimp and firm avocado were perfect, especially with the house-made Japanese ginger dressing. (She highly recommends this.)
Upstairs is a huge dining room that can seat 110. The walls act as exhibit space for the many period photographs and other memorabilia from the 1880s. Below stairs from the main floor is the “Batskellar”, a nice intimate bar with seating for about 25 which we plan to try another time. Overall, the Ellicott Mills Brewing Company is a great place to spend time with both business partners and best friends, and good food. The beer is pretty good, too.