Marconi's - A Beard Award "American Classic"
Although I'm a frequent reader of this board, as a reasonably busy Washingtonian I often skip many of the Baltimore posts because I simply don't think I'll ever fit them in.
Now I see that the "venerable" Marconi's won a James Beard Award last week as an American Classic. Do I have to get there? Is it wonderful? Is it like...my anniversary wonderful? While I'm certainly not "worldly," mind you, I have been to many of this country's better restaurants. How does Marconi's stack up?
Any and all feedback much appreciated.
It's "surreal old Baltimore wonderful." The food is good, but don't expect to be blown away. Four kinds of sweetbreads on the menu. Lobster Cardinale is a signature dish which is hardly available anywhere else. Ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert is a marvelous indulgence. A generous bowl of vanilla ice cream and an equal size bowl of warm chocolate sauce so you can "reload" as necessary. As a glimpse back into a different way of thinking about food, it falls into the category of pilgrimage. Don't get me wrong...you'll enjoy the experience, but keep an open mind. Please post your views if you go. Best. DB.
Marconi's is quirkily, quintessentially Baltimore. To us Baltmoreans this is reason enough to pray for its eternal survival. If you've eaten the world over and pride yourself for it you probably won't get it. If you've eaten the world over and don't give a damn - well, perhaps this place has something for you.
So Marconi's won a Beard award. Hmm, I wonder what that says about Beard?
While Marconi's may be a Baltimore "classic," and many other things that people say about classics, it's kind of interesting that virtually no one I know ever goes there again. Expect an older crowd, and by older, I do mean older. Don't forget to bring your jacket--it's required. Finally, Peter Angelos owns the restaurant and is going to move it to Charles Street in the near future. I'd go before he does it, because half the fun is looking at the restaurant itself.
Oh the food? You wanted to know how it stacks up against other great restaurants across the country. Well, that's not really a fair comparison. Martick's, which is nearby, is another Baltimore classic and I think the food is much superior. After all, Marconi's menu is incredibly ecletic (everything from lobster cardinale to turket tettrazini), so you wouldn't expect them to do everything really well. I'd start with the house salad (chopped for you tableside), and then order something I couldn't find anywhere else.
But I dare say that you and your guests will have a great time. Especially if you try to imagine that you're eating in the 1950s.