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Anniversary dinner in Balto. Please help me choose.

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My husband and I are looking for excellent food, and a fun, maybe upscale-casual atmosphere. We're trying to find someplace new or at least, one that's been off the radar for a number of years. In the past 12 months or so, we've been to:

Taste
Pazo
Kali's Mezze
The Helmand
Minato
Helen's Garden
Mama's on the Half Shell
Greystone Grill
Bluestone
"b"

Obviously, we don't want to head back to those. We'd also prefer a local establishment (vs. a national or even regional chain). Based on reviews that I've seen here and elsewhere, I'm considering the following:

Jack's Bistro
Pazza Luna
Ixia
The Bicycle

Any preferences or recommendations otherwise?

Thanks so much!

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  1. Pazza Luna just reopened - I believe the new owners also own Sotto Sopra - I used to like it with the original owner. I think Bicycle has a limited menu - Ixia is fun and good - more expensive but great special occasion restaurants are The Prime Rib, Tio Pepe and possibly Abecrombie.

    1. Taken from your list, I'd highly recommend The Bicycle. Every experience has been great--really good service and fantastic food. The atmosphere is a mix of trendy and casual, so it sounds like a perfect evening to celebrate an anniversary!

      If you're looking for something really nice--and since you're celebrating your anniversary, a special occasion--I'd impress upon you Charlestons. It's more expensive and upscale, but you can't go wrong. It is by far the best restaurant in Baltimore! Everything is impeccable, from the service and food to the wine list and ambience. You may want to check it out.

      1. Ixia's a lot of fun. I also recommend Saffron.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sweetpotater

          The Bicycle is great and I think it fits your description...Saffron too.

        2. Bicycle has gotten mixed reviews here. You have a lot of options.

          How 'bout Chameleon Cafe? Maybe better on a weeknight. I'd also recommend Abercrombie, though I've not been there since the chef changed. Ixia is quite good. Louisiana doesn't get much play on these boards (I need to go back to check it out). Pierpoint gets no play on these boards and I had a really good brunch there a little bit ago.

          BTW, Red Fish changed hands recently too.

          Happy Anniversary.

          1. I love the Bicycle and Ixia. I think I prefer the Bicycle because they have a very accessible wine list, including 18 bottles for $18.

            I haven't been to Pazza Luna since it reopened.

            Jack's Bistro is not in the same category as Bicycle or Ixia, but if you're looking for a less expensive option, but still interesting dinner that would fit. Winemarket would also fit that description and has great wine options.

            Another expensive option that you might consider is Nasu Blanco (Locust Point), which has great food and (I think) a very fun atmosphere. Last time I was there they had a shrimp appetizer that was seriously the best shrimp I've ever had.

            1. I would love to add my voice to those recommending Saffron, but I haven't been recently enough to feel comfortable doing so. It was very good, and probably still is.

              But looking at your list in terms of food and price point, the answer that comes to my mind is Chameleon Cafe on Harford Road. I think you'd both be very happy with that decision.

              1. Chameleon Cafe is the best deal for high-end cooking in the city with a great casual atmosphere.Ixia's nice Asian fusion, expensive, not at all casual, iffy service. Haven't been to Bicycle under the new owner/chef. Martick's is quirky and fun French if you haven't been. Lebanese Taverna just opened on President Street. Casual, inexpensive great different mezze: www.lebanesetaverna.com Technically a chain as there are four others but each is individually run by one of 5 brothers. My favorite new restaurant of the year. Saffron is also good, primarily Asian fusion in a pretty casual atmosphere.

                1. Have you considered Abacrombie? The food is truly first-rate, as is the service. I found the atmosphere to be very cozy and romantic. Perfect for an anniversary, IMHO.

                  If you want more on the "fun" side, I'd recommend Jack's Bistro. When I went, it definitely had an energetic vibe, and all of the diners seemed to be enjoying themselves very much.

                  1. I love Ixia... incredible martinis and drink list and very good food. It has been a while since I have been, but I really like this place. It is very hip.

                    1. try Gertrude's @ the baltimore museum of art.

                      also the valley inn ,falls rd north of old court rd on the right

                      1. I'd maybe add Birches and Heningers to the list.

                        1. Here's some recent restaurants we've gone to for our anniversary:Elkridge Furnace Inn, The Milton Inn, Harriman House, Antrim 1844, The Old South Mountain Inn, The Oregon Grille, The Manor Tavern Inn and The Brass Elephant. All are highly recommended.

                          As you can see from the list, we prefer restaurants out in the country and preferably in a converted home or mansion. We don't mind paying a little more on our anniversary for the atmosphere, and try to stay away from chains.

                          Does anyone have any restaurants that meet those criteria?

                          Thanks-

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: willie 2

                            willie, you might like to try Dutch's Daughter in Frederick http://www.dutchsdaughter.com/main3.html
                            also, La Ferme in Chevy Chase http://www.lafermerestaurant.com/