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Bmore dinner with mom and grandma

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I'm looking for a place to take my mom and grandma for dinner on Saturday night and need some help narrowing the list! Here are the requirements...

- FABULOUS food
- located in a nice part of town
- casual, hip atmosphere, not too overwhelming or loud (I'm thinking Pazo would be too much)
- not super expensive, but relatively upscale (maybe $20-$30 entrees)
- takes reservations, and where I could likely still get one for Saturday evening
- Grandma likes seafood, Thai, steak, and more, is relatively open-minded, but would probably prefer a non-smoky atmosphere

A few places that I've heard of but never tried are Corks, Blue Sea Grill, Sotto Sopra, True, Timothy Dean Bistro. Places I've liked but already done are Petit Louis, Kali's Court, Helmand, Sascha's, Pazo, and others.

Any help in narrowing or opinions on the places I'm considering would be most helpful!

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  1. The Bicycle in Fed Hill. A quick search on Opentable shows that they do still have openings for dinner on sat. I love their seared scallop app. and beef short ribs. My bf has had fish dishes the last two times we went there and enjoyed them. They do have valet parking.

    I don't know if it is hip, but I have always enjoyed dinner at Gertrude's at the BMA. There are many seafood options on the menu. I've enjoyed the seafood salad, fried oysters and the catfish.

    1. I've not been there since the changeover, but I understand it's been seamless (I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong).

      Run, do not walk, to Abercrombie.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BmoreHound

        We were there about 10 days after the changeover---I didn't even know about it until I read about it here, after we ate. I hadn't gone before the chef left, but the food and service were impeccable from start to finish.

      2. I would second Bicycle and also recommend Nasu Blanco, in Locust Point, very quiet and easy to make reservations still. Especially the downstairs is nice and quiet.

        1. Chella, it sounds like a wonderful celebration where you might all be sampling each other's dishes. I suggest Ixia in Mount Vernon which just started a new spring menu. Check out their website - it will show you the gorgeous interior.

          I went with a friend last week. The warm bread was served with a trio of tapenades and butters, which were delicious. Before the appetizers came we were treated to an refreshing amuse bouche of chilled strawberry soup.

          I had the nectarine salad and the olive oil poached salmon which were superb and unlike anything I've had before. He had the foie gras, which came in a lemongrass-mango sauce, and the rockfish with lobster orzo.

          We skipped dessert in favor of two different flights of scotch.

          The servers were polite, well informed and unobtrusive. All the food was well timed and served with care. We are both picky about our food and service, and were happy to have such an excellent evening. We will be back the next time we are in town.

          After your meal you can stroll through the park at the Monument, where the flowers are blooming.

          Enjoy your evening!

          3 Replies
          1. re: MrNoshington

            I soured on Ixia (many moons ago) when I had a salad whose cilantro had not been thoroughly washed. It was crunchy and gritty. To their credit, they took it off my bill but that left a bad taste in my mouth. I think I'll have to check them back out again, given your high praise. :) Thanks!

            1. re: MrNoshington

              I've never been able to warm to Ixia after spending years going to Louie's Bookstore Cafe, but the few times I've been there it's seemed like expensive & overblown cocktails - mind you, I admit I'm biased against it

              1. re: pagoda girl

                I know what you mean....my second date with my partner of 8+ years was at Louie's, and he said something to me there that night that made my heart skip a beat. Going in there now does make me a bit sad....

                But I tend to not tolerate very well the restaurants that have the "see and be seen" feel to them, so perhaps it's all well and good that I stay away.

            2. Have you heard of Dogwood Deli in Hampden? They have recently opened a semi- upscale restaurant and the city paper gave it a nice review. The menu looks simple but delicious and it seems like they are dedicated to using locally grown ingredients. You should check out their website and see if it suits what you are looking for.

              1. I really like Ixia (later at night might get a little loud), Timothy Dean (not hip, per se - just simple, classy decor), Nasu Blanca (though it is very expensive). Not an Abacrombie fan; not hip but more classy. I hear bad things about True.

                1. I concur with all of the recommendations for the Bicycle. If you go, get their lobster ravioli and definitely the mongolian beef barbecure ribs. Watch out for the spice! And the desserts are great, too.

                  Of the others you mentioned, don't trie Timothy Dean. Went last year and it was perhaps one of the worst experiences I've ever had at a restaurant. Service was lackluster; we had made reservations, but our table wasn't ready. The food was underwhelming, like my watery lobster bisque that had tough, clumpy lobster, and a dry duck confit leg that tasted like a dry turkey leg, way overcooked. It was very busy and the noise level from the bar carried over into the kitchen.

                  If you're looking for a place that is small, quaint and delivers really good food at great prices, try Birches in Canton. You can usually get reservations for Saturday night and their menu features comfort food (such as sandwiches, salads, etc.) but also really good pastas and meat and seafood.

                  1. Many thanks to all of you for your amazing input! We ended up going to Abacrombie and I was really impressed. Besides the dining room being uncomfortably cold, the service was impeccable (and adorable) and the food was absolutely delicious. My shrimp appetizer was definitely some of the best shrimp I've ever tasted - sweet and buttery and resting on top of creamy grits and some kind of chutney that complimented the sweetness of the shrimp so beautifully. The beef tenderloin was perfectly done, and the basil pannacotta dessert was like nothing I've ever tried before. I was really happy with the choice, and I think my family really enjoyed themselves too. I'm going to revisit this thread next time I have visitors in town - you all gave me so many great ideas for other places to try. Many thanks for the input!

                    1. I'd second Bicycle and Gertrudes and Nasu Blanca nad offer up two others: SALT on Pratt and Collington in UpperFells Point/Butchers Hill. The food is similar to bicycle, unforatunatley you can't make a reservation for fewer than 6 peeps, so get there early. And the Chameloen Cafe - don't be put off by its location; the food is wonderful, its cozy, parking is free and easy @ the Safeway next door and everything is made in house. Except the coffee, which is made right next door @ Zeke's. I'd avoid Ixia; i find their food to be overly salty, the staff to be pretensious and i was most put off that the bartender tasted my cosmo right in front of me! the last time i was there.