The Canopy – Baltimore’s Best Pit Beef? I Hope Not.

pitbeef05 The Canopy - Baltimores Best Pit Beef? I Hope Not.

The Canopy


9319 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042

So this is how dedicated I am to my pit beef census. I picked up a couple sandwiches on my way back from CarterQue, my belly heavy with pig meat. It wasn’t easy stopping to get yet more meat, further delaying a much-needed itis-induced nap. The Canopy has been around for a looong time, but I hadn’t been in a couple years. They bill themselves as a ” barbecue restaurant”, which it really isn’t – unless you count pit beef as Baltimore’s native variant of bbq, and there is a valid argument for that. Well, I’m on the fence about this

place. The pit beef had decent char but not a real crust to speak of, and the pit beef itself was very tender but lacked that slightly metallic, bloody note and slight chewiness that to me denotes “real” pit beef. I’ve surmised that other places, notably the much ballyhooed and disappointing Chaps, don’t actually start with raw top round, but rather use a pre-cooked, brined roast beef and simply char the exterior. I know of at least one place that does this for sure, and I’m about 95% sure about Chaps (the place is set to appear on Food Network next week, which should shed light on the subject). I fear that The Canopy too falls in this dubious category. You can’t really tell by this shot, but in addition to the suspect flavor and tenderness, the slices were all nearly perfectly ovoid, a la deli meat:

pitbeef06 The Canopy - Baltimores Best Pit Beef? I Hope Not.

Also, the “blood” soaked into the roll wasn’t bloody at all, but had a slight brine flavor, another telltale sign:

pitbeef07 The Canopy - Baltimores Best Pit Beef? I Hope Not.

All in all a good sandwich, a grilled roast beef sandwich to be precise. That’s my determination at least. Now I could be dead wrong about The Canopy and Chaps for that matter, but if they do start from raw beef, I don’t know what they;’re doing to make it so tender, but whatever it is it’s also detracting from the natural beef flavor.

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9 Responses to “The Canopy – Baltimore’s Best Pit Beef? I Hope Not.”

  1. JohnnyD

    I am going to introduce Baltimore Pit Beef to Oregon. What preparation does the bread or roll go thru? Is it toasted, grilled, steamed, or right out of the package?

  2. Heheh nice! I’ve never seen much if any attention paid to the bread, so I would say straight outta the bag. My personal preference is a cornmeal-dusted kaiser roll, for its absorptive qualities and durable texture. When you’re biting through an inch and a half of beef, a strong platform is desirable, imo. A few places use plain white bread, which I guess could be thought of as old-school or whatever, but frankly says to me cop-out and cheap-ass. Let me know how Oregonians take to it! The only other state in which I’ve even seen the term “pit beef” is PA, and it was actually barbecued beef, i.e. slow-smoked pulled brisket.

  3. JohnnyD

    It sounds like Baltimore Pit Beef is a lot like Beef on Weck from the Buffalo (NY) area.

  4. Ok I bought my 26 lb Steamship Round (Inside Top Round, Whole Top Round) and I made a rub and I rubbed it and now it’s in the cooler. I will be scorching this baby on Wednesday morning and it will be ready for the Lunch Crowd. I have 60 Corn dusted 5 inch Kaiser Rolls coming in Monday morning. I have pure horse radish and also a “Horsey Sauce” clone. I put a new drive belt on my slicer and sharpend the blade. Wednesday is a busy day for me because the joint next door does $5.00 hair cuts on Wednesday.

  5. I know it’s been a while JohnnyD, but how did the Pit Beef turn out, and go over?Got any pics?

  6. JohnnyD, as a native Buffalonian living in Baltimore for the last 25 years, I can testify that there are key differences between pit beef and a beef on weck. Pit beef is typically cooked over an open flame — grilled — while all of the beef on weck in my past has been oven roasted. Charcoal grilling adds a lot of flavor to the meat. Secondly, of course, is the distinctive kimmelweck roll, with caraway seed and coarse salt. Without this awesome and flavorful roll, you just have plain old roast beef. Some day I hope to conduct an experiment in hybridization, combining pit beef and a kimmelweck roll, which could quite possibly result in the Mother of All Sandwiches and destroy the world in a black hole of goodness.

  7. Thanks for your comment, and sorry for the late response. Yeah beef on weck is totally different. The beef is good, but the roll is so friggin good. I was actually shocked at how much the crystal salt and caraway contributed to the overall experience of the sandwich. Are weck rolls even made outside of the Buffalo area?

  8. corby petersen

    I get sliced pork 4 times a month it is great best sandwich in town

  9. Trevor

    You can buy weck rolls at Wegman’s (a WNY-based chain) in Hunt Valley. I believe they bake them fresh in the store.

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