B&O American Brasserie, a Kimpton restaurant, has named Bradley Willits the new executive chef. Chef Willits, who previously served as chef de cuisine for the award-winning restaurant, has worked alongside some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs from Seattle to Charleston and now leads the kitchen at this beloved local Baltimore spot.
Keeping with the restaurant’s celebrated concept, Chef Willits’ menus offer guests a seasonal and approachable American brasserie menu that highlights the robust flavors and rustic foods of regional America along with his personal passion for fresh-caught fish and seafood and the use of local ingredients.
“I’ve always had a connection to the ocean and water, from my childhood in Florida to my time staging at various restaurants in Seattle and Charleston, and here in Baltimore. My dishes are simple, clean, refined and designed to let the seafood stand out,” said Chef Willits. “Being in Maryland provides me with access to great seafood and the dishes I’ve created for the restaurant this spring will showcase that.”
Starters from Chef Willits’ dinner menu include local War Shore Oysters on the half shell with a Meyer lemon mignonette ($2.50 ea); Jumbo Lump Crab with smoked avocado, sweet peppers, heart of palm, radish and a crab-mustard vinaigrette ($14); Burrata Mozzarella served with roasted hazelnuts, spring onions, fennel and a balsamic romesco ($9); and Smoked Shrimp Agnolotti made in-house and served with sea urchin butter, carrot-cardamom puree and sea beans ($12).
B&O American Brasserie’s nationally-recognized flatbreads and skillets from the brick oven remain on the menu with Chef Willits’ own take including the Chef’s Flatbread topped with grilled pineapple, country ham, BBQ gulf shrimp, jalapeno and gouda ($13); Roasted Garlic Sausage served with beer mustard and braised cabbage ($8); and Brussels Sprouts served with pink lady apples, mustard crème and bacon lardons ($10).
Dinner entrée selections include Crispy Skin Maryland Rockfish served atop ratatouille and fregola with a chili-crab broth and sorrel ($27); Amish Brick Chicken served with jasmine rice, morel mushrooms, peas and smoked tomatoes with a cider jus ($22); an 8 oz. jumbo lump Maryland Crab Cake served with orange-fennel puree, wheat berries, corn succotash and pickled mayo ($29); and Steak Frites in several cut options, including a 12 oz. Bison Ribeye, served with truffle-Manchego cheese fries, Old Bay fries or onion gravy fries and the option of béarnaise, au poivre or Worcestershire sauce ($24-30). Chef Willits continues the B&O tradition of offering daily dinner specials.
In addition to the new dinner menu, Chef Willits has also introduced new breakfast, lunch, brunch and dessert menus.
The lunch menu features an array of salads, flatbreads and sandwiches including Spring Salad with asparagus, peas, sugar snaps, carrots, a farm egg and buttermilk dressing ($11); Soft Shell Crab BLT with country ham, yellow tomato, arugula and Old Bay Mayo ($18); B&O Pit Beef served with Worcestershire and tiger sauces and topped with fried onions ($11); and Duck Confit Reuben with braised cabbage and bacon, gruyere cheese and thousand island on rye bread ($13). In addition, the ever-popular B&O Power Lunch now includes a choice of a flatbread or burger in addition to the choice of soup or seasonal greens and the daily cookies ($14).
At just 31-years old, Chef Willits has more than 20 years of kitchen education – learning from some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs and calling their kitchens his classroom. He was born in Sarasota, Florida, and moved across the state to Vero Beach at three years old. From a young age, he learned how to make authentic Italian dishes from his grandfather and then pitched in whenever and wherever he could at his father’s American café. Every school break, when he wasn’t skateboarding or practicing with his band, Willits was in the kitchen. Over the years, he worked his way through every station learning the ins and outs of the kitchen. At the young age of 20, he worked alongside Chef Ben Tench at Tangos, a premier French American Restaurant in Florida, before helping open Maison Martinique as sous chef under Chef Yannick Martin. He then traveled across the country, staging in Seattle at Crush with James Beard Award winner Chef Jason Wilson and at the highly-acclaimed Canlis, and then with James Beard Award winner Chef Mike Lata at FIG in Charleston, SC. Chef Willits has worked with Star Chef Jeremiah Bacon at The Macintosh and James Beard Award winner Chef Sean Brock at McCrady’s.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Chef E. Michael Reidt, who opened B&O American Brasserie, and who shares my love of seafood,“ said Chef Willits. “I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him, Chef Thomas Dunklin and so many other talented and respected chefs. I’m eager to take what I’ve learned from them and to apply those lessons to my own creations.”
B&O American Brasserie is located at 2 North Charles Street, adjacent to the Hotel Monaco Baltimore on the corners of Baltimore and Charles Streets in downtown Baltimore City. The restaurant is open seven days a week serving breakfast Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 10:30 a.m., brunch Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., lunch all week from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday until 11:00 p.m. Bar service is available all week from 11:30 a.m. to midnight with happy hour Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.