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True in Fell's Point - Terrible

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I know it's restaurant week, and I know that maybe the complete lack of any recommendations on this board should have told me something, but really, it was so bad that I started laughing from sheer frustration while waiting for our entrees. We decided on True based on the menu. I asked my boyfriend (who is a strangely picky eater) to look at the menu's on citypeek.com and pick one for restaurant week so we could go out for an early valentines dinner for relatively cheap. And True is the only one he picked out that had open tables at a time that worked for us. (which again maybe should have told me something, but after 7 on a thursday is not exactly peak) So off we went.

Our reservation at 7:30...we weren't seated until 8:00 and our order wasn't taken until 8:30.
Now, there was only one server working, but it is a small room with something like 9 tables, so while she was rushed, that's just ridiculous. And then the wait on the starter (lobster bisque - good, a little sweet; clams - disgustingly oversalted, overcooked, and smelling strangely of cat food) was about another 30 minutes and then about another 30 minutes after we finished our starters and the plates were cleared our entrees finally came out. They were ok...I had the chicken which had pleasantly crispy skin, but dry meat and a strangely tasteless "maderia black truffle reduction" and overcooked risotto and he had the filet/crabcake duo, good crabcake, Ok filet. They didn't ask my BF how he wanted the fillet cooked; luckily their and his default is both to med. rare, so no issues there. So the cut itself was good, but the sauce on top was again strangely tasteless. At this point it is coming up on 10:00 and we're just tired of waiting, so when the waitress finally reappears to take our dessert orders we just ask for dessert to go and the check. Somehow it still takes her 25 minutes to get two orders of truffles (the only dessert available to go at that point. They were out of cheesecake) into boxes and get us our check. And during the entire LOOOOOONG process of moving through this meal, she never once stopped by to check on us. We saw her when she took our dinner order, when she brought our starters and entrees (and she couldn't remember who had ordered what) and when she took our desert order and brough us the check.

So a 3 hour mediocre dinner with the most miserable service I have ever experienced. Our infrequent sightings of the waitress and incredible waits for food led me to one theory...perhaps she was both serving and cooking? In which case she was doing an amazing job and I applaud her. Otherwise, they need to seriously think about how they are running this place. Understanding that during RW it is in their best intrest to pare down staff and induce drinking in their patrons...this was still painfully unpleasant. And looking around the dining room I didn't see a single table that wasn't clearly thinking the exact same thing.

And in case you were wondeirng, I looked around when we left for the maitre'd or manager or somebody to complain to...no sign of them. We had to get our own coats from the coat room. So all in all...a total bust and even allowing for the standard issues of RW, I can't imagine that this place could ever be worth going to.

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  1. We went to True on Wed night and our experience was comparable. With 7pm reservations for a party of 5, we stood at the hostess counter for 20 minutes, then when the host came out he said "we're running really behind on service -- would you rather be seated, or wait at the bar for a bit until we catch up?", that was our first sign that things wouldn't be great. We opted to sit down, as there were some (bad) musicians singing in the bar area and we weren't really interested. The one waitress in the entire restaurant took our orders about 30 minutes after that, and was surprised when we asked for a wine list that we hadn't already had one.

    Most of us had the lobster bisque, which was reasonably tasty except the portion was pretty small and it was served lukewarm. One of us had the grilled scallops which looked really good. The petit filet was indeed medium rare (more rare than medium), which was perfect for me, but I was similarly surprised that the waitress didn't at least indicate that the default was medium rare. When one of us asked for medium well, she indicated it would take "a really really long time" for her entree (seriously? it should take like 5 more minutes on the grill!). The food itself was pretty good but not great.

    We had chocolate lava cake which was pretty good and "cooked to order" per the waitress, but inexplicably not served piping hot.

    Total time in-the-door to out-the-door was 2.5 hrs. Despite the very attractive menu I will probably not be back anytime soon -- the quality of the food, while good, was not great enough to warrant the extremely slow service.

    1. Has anyone had a good experience at True?? I'd really like to hear about it.

      I went with a group for last summer's restaurant week and had a similar horrible experience, including bad service, bad food (a truly horrible risotto that has stopped me from ever ordering risotto in a restaurant again) and being overcharged on my credit card, which took over a month to fix (although they were very friendly about trying to help fix it, it still took forever).

      1 Reply
      1. re: pigtowner

        My mind is blown by these bad reviews. We went to True as part of an <included> dinner in a package while at Brookshire Suites. We RAVED about it and I am extremely picky about everything: comfort of restaurant, temperature, clientele, wait staff including friendliness, hygiene, and demeanor, food temperature, food quantity and quality--you name it. This restaurant did not disappoint us in any way. The meal was completely delicious, waitress was attentive and friendly without being too much so (hate that) so it is disappointing to hear these negative comments. Hope it was just a bad run, though I do not see the dinner package at True included in the Harbor Magic packages....hmmm....

      2. Wow. I've only been there for their breakfast buffet and it's been great. Someone's gotta let them know about these problems!

        1. I tried to call earlier in the week (they are only open wed-sun) and left a message requ\esting reservations per the recording and never got a call back. I called & went through the hotel operator Wednesday before dinner &periodically throughout the day & still never got to talk to someone. WE were gong to just show up & take our chances but as I waited for the our reservations - I did a search n this board. I came accross a review mentioning the "faint smell of mold in the dining room" and that was enough for me to decide to cut my loses, not to mention - as if I recall, it was an extremely cold night & I really ddnt feel like going to Fells Point only to be told they were full.

          Wow - after reading these reviews I feel lucky. I am glad to find this tonight, so I know not to ever attempt to dine there in the future.

          1. I live in the area and these experiences sound familiar, and that's a real shame. This restaurant has a great location, a beautiful, comfortable dining room, and a nice small bar.Under Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf, it was ground zero for fine dining about 10-15 years ago.

            Here is a boutique restaurant in a boutique hotel in a great neighborhood in a great city. It has worked as a beautiful introduction to Fells Point and to Baltimore for many visitors.

            It should, and it can do better.

            1. I've had 3 wonderful meals there. I've been with my GF twice and her family (4 others) once. The wait staff did vary, but the food was alwasys a B+. I've had the duck(twice) and the filet. They had a foie gras appetizer that was memorable and some other apps that I don't. My GF is a picky eater and she always had a good time. The only problem I've ever had was that one time we were there they had a gentleman dressed up and acting as the ghost of the hotel, that was annoying as hell. Trying to eat while some old thesbian tries out his best english accent was trying on us. But that only happened once. The only other thing about the place is that it is sort of pricey. I would recommend the place to anyone.

              1. Ok, having a meal with a ghost-impersonator lurking in the background . . . what can I say? A complete turn - off. I was considering making reservations, but no longer. Who knows what "entertainment" might be there: unintentionally hilarious mime night?

                2 Replies
                1. re: MrNoshington

                  Assuming you're kidding (and that was very funny btw), just for the sake of accuracy, the hotel ghosts are a regular entertainment. There's at least three of them...one of which hosts an 'afternoon tea' of some sort. No mimes that I'm aware of.

                  1. re: wawajb

                    We went to that tea prior to our dinner reservation at True -- they were not offensive in their roles as butlers/ghosts in the least and were actually kind of cute and not too bad insofar as acting is concerned. They did not infiltrate True's dining room and prance around as ghosts at all. Not sure what that is all about.

                2. Mine was the review that mentioned the moldy smell. It was present during the summer restaurant week, but not during the winter one. I think that's par for the course with a room in a basement made of stone. I noted the slow service as well, which we experienced again this time. But it wasn't nearly slow enough to merit a complaint. The server was simply overtaxed.

                  The food, however, was every bit as excellent as before. And, we seem to have ordered the same things as the diners above. Please see my earlier review: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/314853

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Lettuce Eat

                    I will also add that our visit in winter 2007 I noted that slight moldy 'basement' smell. It did not affect our enjoyment, was faint, and not noticeable after you were there for a few moments.

                    1. re: LorrieB

                      It closed in mid-07 and I don't think the ghosts and mold were the reason. If the food was better, people would have put up with all that stuff.