Fans of Nicholas Batey who shed a few tears when his South Baltimore restaurant, The Bicycle, closed its doors earlier this year now have a reason to rejoice. Batey is back in the kitchen. This time, however, he's left behind the global theme and instead has chosen to concentrate on his take on Italian cuisine.Ullswater
, located at 554 E. Fort Avenue, may not sound like the name of an Italian restuarant, says Saundra Batey, co-owner, and that's because it isn't.
"Ullswater is a place in England. You'll see paintings of it around the restaurant. When [Nicholas] was at culinary school, looking at the picture calmed him. He was all alone and could only afford that one painting. He'd go and stare at it when he was lonely. So, he decided that Ullswater was a unique name. We know it doesn't sound Italian," she explains.
The former site of the Sly Fox bar, Batey says she, her partners Monique, Mary and Michael Faulkner, and her husband chose the location because they wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant that was affordable. "We've always loved the area. When we went looking for a restaurant we wanted to keep it in the neighborhood. We noticed that this building was empty and when we walked in it was perfect."
The Bateys and Faulkners completely renovated the two-floor restaurant. "We tore out the back part of the building and redid that, added crown molding. We changed everything. It's basically a brand new restaurant with a brand new bar. The bar is the main attraction."
Ullswater, which opened officially on Nov. 16, will seat up to 100 people. "We didn't want to make it overwhelming and chose to kept it small and intimate," Batey notes.
The restaurant is geared towards families and offers family-style dining for parties. The menu is what anyone familiar with Nicholas Batey might expect. "It's his take on Italian food. One favorite, so far, has been Batey's mozzarella sticks. Forget the frozen and breaded nightmares that are a bar mainstay. These are made with mozzarella, prosciutto, basil, wrapped in phyllo dough and served with a pomodoro sauce.
Another hit is Ullswater's Shrimp Trio. Shrimp prepared three ways, wrapped in pancetta, fried and chilled, served with a sundried tomato cocktail sauce.
"His meatballs in bolognese sauce are very popular and his green bean salad," Batey says.
The menu is changing a bit as the restaurant gears up to begin serving lunch. "We're starting to serve burgers and paninis and will be open for lunch starting next week."
For those who lament the the loss of Bicycle, the Batey's plan to add some of their loyal customers' favorite dishes to the menu. "They aren't Italian but we want to cater to our Bicycle clientele."
Source: Saundra Batey, co-owner
Writer: Walaika Haskins