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Opened in Canton in 2008, Saute never seemed to truly know itself. The corner establishment served likeable pub fare in a prime location, but the vibe inside felt stuffy and drab. Was it a sit-down restaurant or a casual bar?
As new bars opened around the city in recent years, owner Dave Carey felt the identity crisis growing more pronounced. So last summer, he shut Saute for seven weeks to undergo nearly $200,000 worth of renovations and a rebranding.
The result — Lee's Pint & Shell, named after Carey's fisherman father — debuted in mid-October, and it's a noticeable improvement on all fronts. The neighborhood has responded as he had hoped, packing out the bar on a consistent basis. I've been a handful of times, including most recently last Saturday, and have not once seen a slow night. My friends who live in the area have said the same.
It is again proof that recognizing a need for change is the easy half of the battle. The hard part comes in the execution, for which Carey and his team deserve a lot of credit. Lee's feels much more casual and like a neighborhood hangout, which Carey said were his goals from the beginning.
We could all use a makeover every once in a while. That was what Dave Carey thought about Saute after eight years of business in Canton. Located at the corner of Linwood Avenue and Hudson Street, the bar always felt a little stuffy to us—with higher-than-average price points, fancy entrees, and even a name that didn’t feel very Baltimore.
So Carey decided it was time for a change last fall and remodeled the restaurant for six weeks. The result is Lee’s Pint and Shell (2844 Hudson St., 410-327-2883), named after Carey’s late father who was a seafood lover and fisherman. This new version features a raw bar, reclaimed barn wood, vintage seafood posters, and sliding garage-door windows.
The new menu, still headed by chef Mark Suliga, reflects the nautical feel with a lineup of steamed shrimp, clams, mussels, lobster, and oysters. Patrons will also notice welcome holdovers from Saute including the addictive pulled-duck nachos.
In keeping with its name, the new bar also boasts an impressive beer list, with 18 taps of mostly local beer from RaR, Union, Key, Flying Dog, and Evolution. Other creative additions are thoughtful whiskey flights and a menu of oyster shooters, including everything from tequila to Natty Boh.
Nearly every time we’ve passed Lee’s since it opened, the place has been packed, a testament to residents wanting something more casual. And the night we went was no different. Every bar stool and high-top table was filled, and the din in the room reflected that. Needless to say, if you want to go out and have a quiet drink, then Lee’s is not for you.
But the boisterous energy, with music and college football games on the stereo, didn’t phase us as we dug into a dozen Orchard Points—sweet and buttery oysters out of Chestertown. We also tried the pulled-pork fries, an epic mountain of meat with smoked chili barbecue sauce, spicy slaw with poblanos, and Gouda. This might be our new favorite hangover order.
To wash it all down, we were happy that Lee’s had one of our very favorite local beers on tap, the citrusy RaR Nanticoke Nectar IPA. Also of note was the Bourbon ’n’ Cider cocktail, served with ginger beer in a chilled silver mug. And we’ve got to give credit to our server and bartender, both of whom were extremely attentive despite the size of the crowd. Let Lee’s be a lesson to us all—it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.
Whether you are looking to relax with your friend and family, or if you want to make the most of the Baltimore dating scene, Lee's Pint & Shell is a wonderful place where you can dine on seafood, burgers, pizzas, and so much more. If you're taking a date out on a Sunday night and want to impress, this is a great place to get a lobster dinner at an affordable price.
Lee's Pint & Shell is also known for hosting lively events such as Shuckin' in the Street Block Party, Sagamore Spirit and Brewer's Art Beer and Cocktail Night. Be sure to check out their website for upcoming events!
You could call 2016 the year of rebranding for many Baltimore bars and restaurants, with several places changing names and menus in recent months. Among them is Saute in Canton — now called Lee's Pint and Shell.
The new iteration features a seafood-laden menu and a raw bar. Owner Dave Carey named the restaurant after his father, Lee, a fisherman and seafood lover who died a few years ago.
Feeling his bar and restaurant had grown stale, Saute owner Dave Carey closed his Canton establishment at the end of July for a considerable rebranding. On Wednesday — after seven weeks of renovations — the new restaurant, Lee’s Pint and Shell (2844 Hudson St.), opened to the public.