Thanks to the Ballmer Hounds!
Planning a birthday-fest a couple of weeks ago, spent part of an afternoon reading through discussions of favorite--and not so favorite--Baltimore restaurants. Had been thinking about spending the evening at one of the high-dollar spots--Charleston or its ilk. But instead took a bunch of ideas from posts here, and ended up doing happy hour at the bar at Hamilton's (luscious fresh figs wrapped in prosciutto and speared with sprigs of fresh rosemary, nice crispbreads, decent drinks), dinner proper at the Baltimore Brewing Company (good beer and spicy-meaty barbecue platters--they were out of cole slaw and offered to bring us sauerkraut instead--hugely flavorful), then a desert extravaganza at Vaccaro's in Little Italy. Weather was pleasant that evening, so the strolls between venues made for nice digestive interludes. Food good, service good, atmosphere fun all 'round. And I'm guessing (though I was the birthday girl, so didn't actually SEE any of the bills) that the total cost for the evening's triple-play feed'n'fun was less than if we'd made just a single stop at a more haute location.
Thanks so much for the frank and lively posts!