The Helmand in Baltimore???
Is the Helmand as good as all the reviewers say? (Better than the Silk Road?) We're looking for a special place to spend my birthday and were wondering if Afghan food might be fun to try. But we're open to any and all suggestions...
Last year we tried the Black Olive, on South Bond St, near Fells Point -- I absolutely loved the ambience as well as the emphasis on seafood cooked healthily. Though it's tempting to return to Black Olive (we live in DC but are moving out of the area at the end of the month), I'd prefer to try something new -- older I may be getting, but not enough to be in a rut for my b-day celebrations :)
We went to the Helmund last night for my birthday, and it was just as wonderful as everyone says, a perfect spot for a special occasion. Elegant decor, warm atmosphere -- romantic, too, because of the candles at each table. But what really makes the place is the food: absolutely delicious from start to finish. For the main course, we tried the rack of lamb, which is a special on Fri. and Sat. nights: tender and flavorful. Starters, veggie dishes and salads also good. For dessert, we had the Afghan equivalent of baklava -- not as sweet as baklava (seems to lack the honey) and came in a raspberry sauce: inspired.
Next we headed over to Little Italy to try out Vacarro's (222 Ablemarle St.), which I'd also seen recommended on this list for coffee and dessert. Unfortunately, we couldn't manage a second dessert, but I did have their house cappucino (decaf) -- the best I've tasted in a long while, a dessert in itself, We took away some amaretto tiramizu and a half pound of Italian cookies, which we sampled today: all wonderful. Next time I want to try the gelato.
We rounded out my birthday evening by walking over to the big Barnes and Noble by the water: it's in a factory building, very stunningly designed. We really needed the exercise after dining so well.
All in all, a special birthday. Thanks to all of you who steered us towards the Helmund. Next time, I'd like to explore the area of Baltimore where the Helmund is located. It reminded me of towns in Britain: lots of colonial architecture, little restaurants and shops...a part of Baltimore I never knew existed and wish I had!
That part of Baltimore is called Mt. Vernon- a very underappreciated, and yet up and coming area of town. The Helmand is very near the Walters Art Museum, so you could incorporate that into your next visit. As of right now, it can get a little bit sketchy after dark, so make sure that you leave *nothing* in your car (just as if you were visiting NYC) if you park on the street there. Another good restaurant in that area that you may want to check out is Tio Pepe (Spanish). I've also heard very good things about the Brass Elephant (also in the area) but I haven't been there yet. The Brewer's Art is a good brew pub in the area.
The Helmand really is as good as the reviewers say- and it doesn't cost a fortune. I would recommend getting reservations if you plan to go on a weekend or Friday night. It gets crowded there. The Helmand is one of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore, although I've only been there three times. I can't recommend a specific dish because my memory isn't serving me well today. I've had a sort of vegetarian dumpling that was excellent as well as an assortment of appetizer-type things. I've had excellent service (although I didn't have reservations on a busy Fri. night they accomodated me) every time I've been there, which is no small thing.
The Black Olive, as you've mentioned, is also very good . You can't go wrong with going to either of these places.
Hello Sailor (sorry, have always wanted to say that!)
I don't know about the Helmand in Baltimore but they have a sister restaurant in San Francisco that I visited in May and on the basis of that meal I'd definitely recommend a visit to the Baltimore one.
I'd never tried Afghan food before and was really impressed, obviously there were similarities to dishes I'd tried in Persian restaurants but everything was really perfectly cooked (mmm, melting lamb...) and the flavours were great. If you do go then do try the baked pumpkin, on it's own it might be a bit sweet but with everything else it's perfect. I included a link to my previous post on the California board and there are some other messages in the thread. I must say, that as I sit here in rainy old London, a repeat visit would be much appreciated!
Have a great birthday wherever you end up going.
Thanks, Ellen. It helps to have specific suggestions of which dishes to try, especially as Afghan sounds like the sort of cuisine that people usually share. With just two of us, we won't to be able to order so much.
Maybe I've been drinking the Kool-aid as they say in the new media business, but I marvel at being able to go out to dinner in Baltimore on the advice of a Londoner who was recently at a branch of the same restaurant in San Francisco.
Who would ever have imagined it?
BTW, I used to live in London: sorry to hear about the dreary weather, how well I remember...
We visit Baltimore frequently, but always forget to make a reservation at the Silk Road in time. Hence, our 2 visits to the Helmond. Works out just fine, though because we really like the food and the service. The owner is warm and gracious and sincerely pleased that you've decided to vist him.
The Helmand is one of the best restaurants in Baltimore and is certainly my favorite. I recommend the Mourgh and Mahi Kabob. The Shaftal salad comes in a close second for me as well. Make reservations, no matter what night of the week it is, it is always hard to get a table without one. They have a new wait staff now as well