Carolyn - regarding Faidley's
Carolyn, thanks for letting us know your experience. To be honest I'd say that Faidley's has loads of atmosphere - total Baltimore institution and their crabcakes are terrific. (have to be careful about crabcakes around here - I'm not a native and have been subject to criticism on this subject, but I don't think anyone can argue about theirs).
Did you wander into the market at all? Berger's Bakery is reknowned for their cookies - sort of a fat sugar cookie with dollop of chocolate fudge on top. They are just delicious - worth going out of the way for. Also you can get really good fried chicken livers in the market.
Trinacrea (sp?), an italian goods store is also in that area - about a block up the street from the market - be forewarned this is a frightening neighborhood, but safe enough during the day. It's got provolone balls hanging from the ceiling, pesce wine in fish bottles, probably 15 kinds of pasta sold by the pound. People come from all over Baltimore to shop there. I was in there once during passover. Maybe a five year old girl and her mom in front of me were sort of surveying the contents of the store, when the little girl pointed up at the provolone, and very sweetly said, "Mom, look, they have matzoh balls just like us."
Cap Hill, thanks for your tips on Baltimore's Lexington Market and nearby stores. Yes, we tried Berger's famous cookie, plus some kolaches. We'll be back.
Next time I'll look for a kosher chicken place in the market; I've always wondered if they really are tastier.
Your comments about crabcake preferences being open to criticism made me think. Aren't we all in this great Chowhound thing together? It's up to each of us to say where we've enjoyed good food. We're expressing our opinions, and that's all we can do. After all, we're talking about taste here, and (hope I get this right) "de gustibus non est disputandum." All comments are welcome...at least till I try somebody's all-time-favorite-crabcake and decide they're delusional. Even then, the person who isn't sound on crabcakes may turn out to be the world expert on barbeque.
Naturally, the person who can say they've tried crabcakes at A, B, and C and what each one's finer points is and why they prefer one is in a stronger position than somebody with less crabcake experience.
So keep posting, everybody. I check several Chowhound message boards daily and am disappointed if nobody comes up with anything new. I only wish I had more food experiences to share.
I agree with your sentiment about crabcakes actually. To be honest my fear is that my former wife (a native Baltimorean and with whom I am still very friendly) will get on the board, figure out who I am and write nasty letters about my crab abilities. Personally, I'm looking for lots of lump meat, little shell and a nice old bay flavoring in my crabcakes.
I've got out of the crabcake tasting game lately tho. It's not really a D.C. specialty. I have no idea why there aren't more Balto types arguing about it here tho. They'll argue crabs til the cows come home up there.
There was an interesting piece in the Sunday magazine of the New York Times about a place called Dill's Crab and Oyster Bar in Bridgeton, NJ. I really like the sound of their recipe for crab cakes. Finally, someone who agrees with me that minced green pepper has no business in a crab cake! Instead of plain mayo they use tartar sauce (I like that idea) and Old Bay. I'm not sure about the German-style mustard, but I'm going to try it the next time I'm feeling flush. You can see the whole article at the NYT website. The crab "jus" sounds fascinating too. pat
re: pat hammond
I saw that article and liked it, Pat. Crab jus sounds gooood.
I've become a crabcake snoot. I usually assume crabcakes in NYC (as opposed to DC, my hometown, or Maryland)won't be my kind of thing - too much breading, usually, and often some kind of odd almost pureed texture, which to my mind is no darn good. (Although if truth be told, I had a really tasty, lumpy one at Tabla.) I strongly support the use of Old Bay and some but not too much mayo, for binding purposes. My mom's are my favorites, but I really enjoyed some that I had at Clyde's in Chevy Chase (MD).
my favorite place to go for crabcakes is a tiny pub in Fells Point called Duda's tavern. You'll have a hard time getting a table if you go on a weekend night, but if you go during the week it will be OK. Try the crab cake sandwich - it costs around $11.00. Unfortunately it comes with cruddy potato chips. Also beer is expensive there ($4 Guinness). The sandwich itself is great, though- a huge crab cake w/huge lumps of crab meat.