New Quarry Lake restaurant Citron is looking to fill a niche in the Pikesville area by providing a versatile white-table-cloth experience with a waterfront view outside of the culinary institutions in Baltimore City.
The restaurant is the creation of Charles and Susan Levine. A chef himself, Charles, who has been in the catering business for 30 years, has been thinking about opening a restaurant for more than a decade.
“It made sense to have this evolution,” he said. “The events that we’ve catered are always tailored to the client. For the restaurant, we thought about what was missing in the community.”
Citron hopes to appeal to a variety of diners, starting with the layout, atmosphere and fine details of the restaurant down to the wallpaper, silverware and glasses.
Each of its rooms and lounges has a noticeably different feel. The private “club” dining room, which can host a private party of 50, boasts muted acoustics so that dinner conversation is easier to hear. On the other side of the restaurant is a bar with mood lighting and intimate seating arrangements. Bordering that area is a more casual, well-lit lounge that Levine said would be suitable for patrons to work in during the lunch hours.
“At the end of the day, it is about creating a place for people to go for any number of reasons,” he said. “We want this to be the hub for the Baltimore region when you really need to entertain, whether you want to relax and have a great time or want anonymity for a meeting or party. This place has the opportunity to serve a lot of people well. A lot of places don’t have that advantage.”
Susan Levine explained that the acoustics were treated differently in each room.
“Nothing is more frustrating to us than going out to dinner with our family and having to yell across the table,” she said. “We want people to be able to have real conversation. We wanted it to feel upscale and light and contemporary. We want it to feel like you could come here on a date or with your family, that you could come for lunch and want to come back for dinner. Everybody is a VIP here; that’s what we want people to feel like.”
For many patrons, the real draw to any restaurant is its food. While Charles continues to run Charles Levine Caterers out of Owings Mills, executive chef Jerome Dorsch has been keeping things running in the kitchen. Dorsch has an extensive culinary career that includes stints as an executive corporate chef.
“To run a facility of this size, you need someone from a corporate environment who can manage two dozen people in the kitchen but who can also put out food that, if it were just a 50-seat restaurant, would be the finest. Yet, we are a 250-person restaurant,” Charles said. “It can be very difficult to find that person. It’s someone you have to really trust who can build the team. We got very lucky.”
“For the most part, I worked with Charles on the menu to pick regional and continental American-type things,” Dorsch said. “The big key is trying to keep it simple, seasonal and easy to execute. So far, the sea bass has been a big hit, and osso buco is definitely a showstopper because it isn’t something that you see very often. The duck is always a popular dish too.”
Charles and Susan broke ground at the Quarry Lake site in July 2015, and Citron opened on Nov. 7.
“We wanted a space that could be warm in the winter and cool in the summer so we could take advantage of every day at the lake,” Charles said of the lakeside area.
In conjunction with Citron, the Levines are also opening an adjoining stand-alone event venue called The Cove, which Charles said will allow the restaurant to continue operating normally as private events are hosted.
“We don’t think it is fair to our client base that we would have to close the restaurant to host a private event. When you are doing private events, there is a need for lighting and sounds and a view. There is so much that people want, and The Cove has it,” Charles said. “As a caterer, people have said to me, ‘I’d love to have you, but I can’t find a place.’ And this is the right size. Now, we can provide that space.
“What we want is to be the total experience,” he added. “We have planned down to the smallest details. We have the footprint here to really go beyond what some restaurants do.”
Citron is located at 2605 Quarry Lake Drive. For more information, visit citronbaltimore.com.