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FOUR DAYS LEFT IN BALTIMORE :: WHAT NOT TO MISS

f
Fleur Aug 12, 2006 10:08 PM

We have had wonderful meals in Baltimore. It is a dining destination I can recommend with something for every one.

After a day back in NY we are back in B-More until Wednesday. That gives us four more days to sample the best of B-More.

On our list: TIO PEPE & SAFFRON.

What are we missing? Any new tips will be greatly appreciated. A great seafood restaurant (can't gert enough of your fabulous crab), French perhaps.

An observation : I have found that B-Moreans are not as highly critical about restaurants as NYers. NYers tend to be really stingy giving out high scores in Zagat.

Thank you all for your great suggestions. I have tried to report back and give our impressions.

  1. toro head Aug 12, 2006 10:27 PM

    Give us a quick list of where you've been.

    1. f
      Fleur Aug 13, 2006 06:27 AM

      We had a superb dinner tonight at TIO PEPE. A charming restaurant with attentive and gracious service, lovely setting and wonderful food.

      We started with a small pitcher of the refreshing classic Sangria and their warm crispy home made bread. We shared the garlic shrimp appetizer . It was brought out presented for two, in two little casseroles. It was huge,ten luscious shrimp bathed in a briny shellfish reduction infused with sweet garlic.

      We ordered the Paella Valenciana for two. As good or better than the Paella at SEVILLA, our favorite Spanish place in the City. The Paella was enormous, full of fresh shrimp, chicken, sausage, mussels,clams, and large pieces of very sweet succulent lobster, cooked to perfection in a fragrant saffron based stock. Made to order, every element was cooked just right.The rice was firm, not too much sauce.Delicious. We took enough back for a nice lunch.

      We ended with the Pine Nut Roll . Fortunately we ordered just one for the two of us. It was enormous, and delicious,surprisingly light with candied pine nuts and a light almond cream. Again, served for two.

      The service was gracious, unobstrusive and totally correct. The Chef came over to check our plates and inquire about our meal.

      Very reasonable as well. The bill came to a little over $100.

      We have been here in Baltimore for 12 days and have been to the following for dinner with our favorites in order of best to worst.

      Some were excellent by any standard, some were good, some were OK . Only one was a read dud.. FIVE GUYS, and one a total disappointment FAIDLEY'S.


      TIO PEPE
      SOTTO SOPRA
      HELMAND
      AMBASSASOR DINING ROOM
      MAMA ON THE HALF SHELL
      THAI LANDING
      ORCHARD MARKET CAFE
      SAMOS
      COPRA
      FAIDLEY'S (lunch)
      BLUE MOON (lunch)
      FIVE GUYS

      1. ko1 Aug 13, 2006 04:20 PM

        You've done an incredible job of sampling the best Baltimore has to offer. I'd round it out with Saffron (which, I believe has extended Restaurant Week through August) and Salt, a new place at Pratt and Collington which I haven't tried yet. I've heard nothing but good things.
        You also ought to try the steamed crabs somewhere (Obrycki's, Bill's Terrace Inn, Costa's).

        1. Lettuce Eat Aug 13, 2006 05:20 PM

          Definitely try Martick's for French. If you don't mind the crummy location, the bizarre decor, and the painfully slow service, you'll love the outstanding food. See previous posts. Call to make sure he's open.

          1. g
            goatcheesey Aug 13, 2006 05:22 PM

            Any lower price options? I'm heading there soon for a wedding but will be on a budget.

            5 Replies
            1. re: goatcheesey
              l
              Leslie Aug 13, 2006 09:21 PM

              On the list above, Samos and the Helmond are both inexpensive and both are excellent. You could eat also inexpensively at Pazo , because it is small plates. Also a very good place.

              1. re: goatcheesey
                f
                Fleur Aug 13, 2006 09:30 PM

                We found B-more lacking in lower priced restaurant options. Unlike NY where you can dine very well on any budget,B-more offers a very limited selection of lower priced restaurants.

                Even SAMOS , basically a Greek luncheonette was more expensive than its NY relatives, and no better.

                Hard to find a really good dinner for under $20.

                1. re: Fleur
                  g
                  goatcheesey Aug 14, 2006 03:03 AM

                  Thanks Fleur and Leslie! I'm Greek (so Samos sounds like a good bet), and haven't had Afgan food in years. Both options look like winners.

                  1. re: Fleur
                    h
                    hon Aug 14, 2006 01:16 PM

                    Wow, B-more is like the low-cost dining capital IMO!
                    Check out "b" in Bolton Hill almost all of the entrees are under $20, the same with Salt in Butchers Hill, Henningers Tavern in Fells Point has an upscale take on the TV dinner every night always for $10 and wednesday night there is $15 lobster night with corn on the cob and mashed potatos.
                    Mezze in Fells Point and Tapas Teatro on Charles Street both have great small plates.
                    Spending my fair share of time in NYC, the inexpensive dining usually involves ethnic food and not anything near fine dining. Lots of latino dining in Upper Fells Point thats good.
                    Dudas in Fells Point has great Pub Grub as does Ale Marys. Tons of places have steamed shrimp, Captain Larrys in Locust Point has a great crab cake which is 1/2 price wednesday nights and thursday night is "pound and a pitcher" night, pound of steamed shrimp and a pitcher of beer for $12.
                    And we have "Baltimore Pizza" thats excellent: http://www.matthewspizza.com/

                    1. re: Fleur
                      j
                      Jonny Pops Mar 16, 2008 10:43 AM

                      The market for lower priced restaurants in Baltimore is more or less dominated by Pub Food, of which there are plenty of affordable options - Friends in Fells Point on Aliceanna & Rocket to Venus in Hampden on Chestnut Ave & 34th are two good places to check out.

                      As far as Samos is concerned, you're just flat out wrong. I live in NYC as well - in Astoria, no less - and there are NO Greek restaurants in this city that serve food anywhere near as good as Samos at such reasonable prices.

                  2. a
                    atls21231 Aug 13, 2006 05:51 PM

                    I second that you've done a really good job in picking restaurants. I've mentioned my suggestions before, but just to reiterate, I'd suggest:

                    Black Olive or Kali's Court (Fells Point).
                    Charleston (very expensive)
                    Bo Brooks (Canton) or LP Steamers (Federal Hill) for steamed crabs.
                    La Cazuela (Ecuadorian, Fells Point).
                    Abercrombie (Mt. Vernon).
                    Gertrude's in the Baltimore Museum of Art (specialises in regional cuisine).

                    For French, Martick's is a local treasure. The other suggestion is Chameleon Cafe on Harford Road. Both neighborhoods are much different from the Mt. Vernon/Fells Point neighborhoods that you've been going to as well.

                    Good luck.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: atls21231
                      ko1 Aug 13, 2006 08:14 PM

                      The Chameleon and Martick's are great suggestions. I still haven't tried Abacrombie's (note the unusual spelling, if you look for Abercrombie, you won't find it). Black Olive and Kali's have great Greek-style seafood. They are both fairly expensive but the fish is great. The grilled octopus app at Kali's is a favorite of mine.
                      Charleston is Baltimore's best restaurant. You create your own 4 and 5-course tasting menus. That said, NYC has even better places with high-end tasting menus (Bouley, Les Bernardin, etc.).

                    2. r
                      round hound Aug 14, 2006 01:20 PM

                      No mention of Afghan Kabob?! Definitely under $20 for a large plate of really great kabobs, rice, nan, and vegetables, and close to the Inner Harbor. It's very informal, but friendly and a real overlooked gem. Black Olive is not "fairly" expensive - it's just out and out expensive for the sometimes miniscule portions you get. If you have time, go back to Lexington Market and try a hot freshly carved turkey sandwich (the stand is close to Faidleys), followed by a berger cookie or some local Rheb's chocolates. Or try one of the Greek offerings at the Mt. Olympus stand, such as the souvlaki. Another find is Joung Kak up near Penn Station - real Korean bbq over a charcoal grill. The English is a bit dicey, but the food is knock-your-socks-off better than what you're going to find at the big bustling places in the Little Korea section of Manhattan.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: round hound
                        h
                        Hal Laurent Aug 14, 2006 01:55 PM

                        > Another find is Joung Kak up near Union Station

                        I assume you mean Penn Station.

                        1. re: round hound
                          f
                          Fleur Aug 14, 2006 06:11 PM

                          Afghan Kebob is more of a takeout, grab something on the run. It is not a real restaurant.

                          I have limited my dining options to real restaurants.

                          1. re: Fleur
                            r
                            round hound Aug 15, 2006 03:29 AM

                            sorry, I saw Faidleys and Five Guys on your list and didn't realize you were making a distinction. Afghan Kebob has lots of (casual)tables and chairs and is filled every day with sit-down diners eating their meals there. In fact at lunch there is usually a line for tables. But orders are taken at the counter, and the food is brought out to you.

                        2. a
                          amykramy Aug 15, 2006 12:09 PM

                          i'd go with gertrudes at the bma...nor only is their menu spectacular with local touches like blue crab and silver queen corn, but you can stroll through the beautiful sculpture gardens when you are through. gertrudes also offers dinner entrees for $10 on tuesdays, so maybe it might be a spot for tonight! i do recommend reservations..if you are here the weekend, they also do an amazing brunch on saturdays and sundays....(i am a little biased..i am having my wedding there)

                          1. f
                            Fleur Aug 16, 2006 07:10 AM

                            Our last night! Sad to leave, but happy to be getting back home to NY.

                            We had a choice last night of THE HELMAND, which we had been to and really liked, and SAFFRON. The menu at SAFFRON looked delicious, but since great Afghan food is not something easy to come by, we went to HELMAND.

                            The Kaddo was again a scrumptious appetizer, along with the Salad with Pomegranate Dressing.

                            We had the Rack of Lamb which was beautifully done, tender and smoky,with just the slightest hint of pink. Served with spinach and Rice Pilaf, it was exceptional. We also had the Kabbuli, Lamb cooked in SWpiced Rice Pilaf, which was delicious, but not quite as good as the first time. Then again,what is?

                            The desserts were a nice, Ice Cream and Assorted Pastries. Nothing special, but a nice touch of sweetness to end the mean.

                            The service was fine, attentive and amiable. All in all,really good.

                            Now all we need is a recommendation for the best Diner on route (we love Diners).

                            Thank you all for your great suggestions and tips. We loved the variety and quality of your restaurants and especially loved your Crab.

                            Please come and visit NY and visit the Outer Borough Boards. I would be happy to help you plan a great trip.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Fleur
                              jen kalb Aug 16, 2006 04:08 PM

                              I had been looking forward to visiting the Helmand for years and was SO disappointed with the food in a visit this spring. While the service was courtly and cordial and the surroundings beautiful and the meat properly cooked and other dishes properly cooked, the food was so bland and underseasoned - it lacked the liveliness and spark of the very best Afghan food. It seems to me that its going over toward "continental" and that they are afraid of offending their audience. Really too bad, they obviously have the skills.

                              I actually enjoyed the food at my conference hotel (the Renaissance Harborplace) more - the chef seem to be taking some risks with spicing and garnishes.

                              1. re: jen kalb
                                h
                                heard Apr 6, 2008 07:49 AM

                                There are sister restaurants in San Francisco and Cambridge, MA called The Helmand. They are also Afgran restaurants, owned by the brother of an ex-afgan president. I wonder if the restaurant in Baltimore is relatedl....

                            2. h
                              Hue Aug 16, 2006 03:57 PM

                              Thanks so much for the posts and the follow ups. I really enjoyed your two weeks in B'more.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Hue
                                a
                                atls21231 Aug 16, 2006 04:23 PM

                                ditto to this. thanks for the time you spent reporting.

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