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Baltimore RW reviews

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daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 09:07 AM

I looked, but couldn't find a thread dedicated to this topic. Anyone have reviews of places they were for RW in Baltimore? I'm going to Black Olive tonight, and Oceannaire tomorrow, so I'll post reviews after those experiences. I'm also considering going somewhere for lunch tomorrow. Anyone go to Bicycle? I know someone must have, because I was unable to get reservations when I called last week!

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  1. m
    misssphinx RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 09:13 AM

    I think the threads have so far been for one RW restaurant experience at a time.

    Decidedly underwhelmed by dinner at Corks. Food was good, yes - but for our meal, nothing approached greatness. My dining partner struck out, but my monkfish was okay.

    Lunch at Black Olive was quite nice - the only downfall was uninspired entree sides. Everything else was superb. (Apps: traditional spreads, grilled calmari stuffed with feta, Entrees: salmon, kabob of the day - which was rockfish)

    Dinner at Nasu Blanca was my favorite, with everything 'regular menu'-perfect. (Apps: mussels, japanese eggplant; Entrees: walu + paella)

    6 Replies
    1. re: misssphinx
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      daveinmd RE: misssphinx Aug 2, 2007 09:27 AM

      Nasu Blanca sounds good... I might have to check it out this weekend. Have you been there for their regular fare?

      1. re: daveinmd
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        jrussd RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 10:36 AM

        I've been to Nasu Blanca several times, the first being shortly after they opened. I think it's been one of the best places we've eaten at, in addition to our other faves, like Bicycle and Charleston. It's a little bit on the pricier side, but for restaurant week, $30 there can't be beat. Still, outside of RW, try to get there; it's worth it!

        1. re: daveinmd
          h
          honeybee926 RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 10:48 AM

          the japanese eggplant dish at Nasu Blanca (which is on their regular menu) is dangerously good . . .

          1. re: daveinmd
            m
            misssphinx RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 03:52 PM

            Well, I think the objective of Restaurant Week was accomplished - I hadn't been to Nasu Blanca before, but I'll happily return now!

            1. re: misssphinx
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              baltimorejim RE: misssphinx Aug 4, 2007 08:29 PM

              Agreed re Nasu Blanca. Food was great and ironwork on stairwell and decor in second floor dining room matched the food. Loved the eggplant, mussels, and walu. Seated ontime for an 8:45 reservation. Excellent service and we felt that there was real value for the money spent.
              .

              Actually we cancelled Saturday night at Black Olive due to reviews on this board to go to Nasu Blanca. Black Olive maybe later.

              Also went toPrime Rib for an 8:00 PM reservation earlier in the week. At the peak of their rush I asked the desk at 8:15 "how late are you running?" Maitre d' says 20 minutes or so. (I forgot to ask if that meant 20 minutes total or 20 minutes from when I asked the question. Around 8:45 we were told we were the next 2 on the list. At 8:55 I asked what was the status of our 8:00 reservation. During this time we observed others being seated ahead of us and wondered to ourselves if those who continued to drink at the bar were allowed to remain as long as they continued to imbibe (2 young ladies at the corner). When we were seated at a table in the room with the 3 piece combo (good) the maitre d' approached our table and apologised profusely for their delay in seating us. My wife voiced her concerns in a lowkey but animated manner. The maitre d' offered to comp our RW meals. I accepted feeling we had gotten the opportunity to express our displeasure and thought his response was adequate. We proceeded to order two glasses of wine from the regular menu (our cost) and tipped the waiter who delivered excellent gracious service for the wine and the meals as if we were paying for all. Food was great and despite the service delay I was impressed by Pime Rib's response.

          2. re: misssphinx
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            originalbiscuit RE: misssphinx Aug 4, 2007 07:56 PM

            Went to Nasu Blanca Thursday - had 8:30 res., arrived early, sat a bar with companion, told staff we were there - asked if we were going to be seated upstairs, said yes - companion looked at upstairs table at hostess' approval. However, we were not seated until close to 9pm. Sat at our table for close to 10 minutes until a server approached us. Food was excellent - lacked the professionalism up front, but again dinner was outstanding. Disappointed in the service.

          3. b
            bawlmerhon RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 09:57 AM

            I just joined Chowhound today ... what is RW??

            1 Reply
            1. re: bawlmerhon
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              elegantelliot RE: bawlmerhon Aug 2, 2007 09:59 AM

              rw = restaurant week

            2. j
              jrussd RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 10:39 AM

              I posted a review earlier this week on my visit to Sotto Sopra. It can be found here:

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/426793

              In a nutshell, it was a pretty horrible experience. I had never been, but was intrigued by their eclectic menu for RW, compared to others which were only offering one or two choices per course. I thought this versatility gave Sotto Sopra an advantage; rather, it turned out to be their downfall. I'll never go back, nor will I ever recommend it to anyone.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jrussd
                pattiat600block RE: jrussd Aug 2, 2007 12:47 PM

                I went for dinner the other night, I thought it was good! Nothing spectacular, but flavors were pretty spot on. I was impressed at the size of everything, I had an enormous prosciutto app, and entrees that felt like they weren't just skimping on RW. Some of the textures weren't perfect.. things like duck tortelli and veal reduction probably sitting in the kitchen too long... but again, you could taste every ingredient, especially in the pistachio chocolate creme brulee. Sooo much better than the sad lunch I had at George's the previous day.

                I hadn't planned on it, but I did just stop into Sabatino's for lunch. It wasn't one of my picks for RW, and I was right. Don't bother going there.

                I'm going to Bicycle tonight - 9:30 reservation was the only one I could snag! I'll report tomorrow.

              2. s
                sweetpotater RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 11:09 AM

                We went to Corks. First courses: BLT (pork belly, fried tomato, frisee) and spinach salad with peaches were pretty good, nothing exceptional. My risotto with summer vegetables was delicious, the monkfish was good, and the flank steak with chocolate sauce was ridiculous -- and I don't mean that in a good way. I have never before seen my husband leave steak on the plate. A nearly perfect creme brulee, nice fruit salad with watermelon lemonade, serviceable chocolate mousse, and good service, except for the three extra glasses of wine they put on the bill (and took off without complaint).

                3 Replies
                1. re: sweetpotater
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                  misssphinx RE: sweetpotater Aug 2, 2007 03:55 PM

                  Yes - my SO was very disappointed with the flank steak.

                  1. re: sweetpotater
                    aussiewonder RE: sweetpotater Aug 5, 2007 06:15 AM

                    i'm intrigued, why was the flank steak so bad? over cooked? awful taste prep?

                    1. re: aussiewonder
                      r
                      ryzaroo RE: aussiewonder Aug 8, 2007 01:19 PM

                      I'm not the original poster but I had the same experience. Me and my fiancee went to Corks and I had the flank steak. To me it was the chocolate sauce..it didn't go with the steak at ALL. It was wayy too powerful and the flavors just did not sit right on my palate. I wound up scraping as much of it off as possible trying to salvage the steak which I also didn't finish eating.

                      He had the risotto which was fabulous

                  2. a
                    a70wilson RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 11:58 AM

                    Just back from lunch at The Spice Company (4 W. University Parkway - in the Doubletree/Colonnade). Delicious. My gorgonzola salad with walnuts had the most wonderful lightly rosemary-y dressing. My boy said his MD crab soup was very very good. His steak merited a very good. My eggplant, tomato, edamame concoction had a nice heat/spice and something more like cous-cous than quinoa on the side, but still lovely. He almost didn't share his pot-de-creme, which ended up being a pudding-eque coffee mousse type thing in a coffee mug. My key lime pie was also great, but that pot-de-creme - mmmmm.

                    Lunch seemed like the way to go - only $20 each! As an aside, I got a glass of riesling which was $7.75, BUT, it was a huge pour - I'd say almost 2 glasses I would get somewhere else. Don't know if this was a fluke, but I left feeling like this was not a bad price if they usually pour that generously.

                    1. a
                      amaebi RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 02:22 PM

                      Went to bicycle last night. It was very good. the tuna tartare/avocado app. is was tasty. it's on their regular menu too but RW is probably a smaller portion. The ribeye was cooked medium rare as I asked and had a nice blue cheese and good potatoes. There were 3 dessert choices. all were great but my dense chocolate cake was the best. It was a great value.
                      the night before I went to Pazza luna which was not bad but not great either. the best thing was the chocolate mousse.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: amaebi
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                        jellopixy RE: amaebi Aug 2, 2007 02:37 PM

                        We too went to Bicycle last night. I'm still dreaming about the food we ate. I cannot rave enough about the place.

                        I had the
                        Tuna Tartare - with avocado, chili oil and peanut sauce. I thought this was fab. I loved the texture and the creeping spicy flavor.
                        Lobster Ravioli - This had large slices of fresh parm on it. If I think hard enough I can remember the buttery sauce. This was the dish that made me choose the restaurant and I can't wait to have it again. (please note I am also a sucker for ravioli)
                        Strawberry Shortcake - This was served on Lavender scones, which was the only thing i didn't completely enjoy. The strawberry sauce was great, mellow and tasty. Lavender (and other flower flavors) I've learned are best left to butterflies and hummingbirds.

                        The Mister had the Corn and Crab Soup, Ribeye and the Boca Negro (flourless chocolate cake) He loved all of it, stating the Ribeye to be one of the top 10 pieces of meat he's ever had. The Boca Negro he said was -the- best restaurant dessert of all time.

                        The restaurant is cute, but the metal tables and freezing cold air conditioning made it a bit uncomfortable. Bring a sweater. Also, small quarters means you can really hear the conversations of everyone in the room. Our waiter was the perfect mix of inattentive and attentive. He could sense we were on a strict budget and did not offer coffee or other add ons which was cool.

                        It's normally outside our student budget but I'll definitely be back for RW in the future.

                        1. re: jellopixy
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                          PaulaG RE: jellopixy Aug 2, 2007 03:39 PM

                          My husband and I went to Bicycle Tuesday night, and we were also very impressed! He had the gazpacho (garnished with a slice of avocado and a slab of grilled tuna), which was chunkier than any gazpacho I've ever had but still delicious. This was followed by the amazingly flavorful ribeye cooked spot-on medium rare, and the strawberry shortcake. His was served on more of a sugar-crusted "biscuit", but I did like the lavender. I guess it's an aquired taste...
                          I had the sashimi tuna avocado app, and I almost liked the plate! My entree was the red snapper with saffron bouillabaisse, which was a delicious melding of flavor. I had the boca negra for dessert--yes it IS the best of all time!
                          I especially like the fact that they have an 18 (choices) for $18 wine list. We chose Big Tattoo Reisling, which was just right. Service was was inobtrusive. I agree about the chilly, loud space though. But I will daydream about the food for weeks...,

                          1. re: jellopixy
                            pattiat600block RE: jellopixy Aug 3, 2007 11:08 AM

                            Finally made it to Bicycle last night - maybe I've read too many of these great reviews on here, but I was slightly disappointed! The Tuna Tartare was excellent, possibly the best I've had, but there was really nothing special about my Ribeye. It was cooked well (a perfect medium rare), but I wanted a better quality beef? more spices? It was just okay. I posted my thoughts on RW here: http://blog.600block.com - includes food pics from Bicycle, for anyone who didn't get a chance to go (;

                        2. b
                          bmorecupcake RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 02:34 PM

                          Very underwhelmed with lunch at La Tasca yesterday. I give it a C+, and even that is based primarily on the dessert. Many things were way too oily. I felt like I was at Old Country Buffet where everything is oiled up so you get full faster.

                          Atun con piquillos y salsa verde (tuna loin confit) was oily. Gambas Gabardina (fried shrimp) was too oily, but the shrimp itself was perfectly cooked to be fair. Same with Gambas Al Ajillo (sauteed shrimp), shrimp very nice and tender, but way too oily. Calamares a la Andaluza was oilier than most fried calamari, but the main problem was that it has way too much salt. The accompanying garlic mayo was really good, though. Salman a la plancha (grilled salmon) was decent. Mejillones a la Marinera (mussels) was mixed. Sort of like with the shrimp, the mussels themselves were really good, but I wasn't satisfied with the tomato and onion marinara. Rape al pimenton (grilled monkfish) was good. Esparragos Verdes a la Pancha (grilled asparagus) wasn't drizzled with olive oil, like the menu says, but rather doused. The asparagaus was very thick, haven't seen that kind before (not saying that's a bad thing). One of the three asparagus I received was very tasty, the other not at all and they weren't grilled long enough. Vieras Gratinadas (sauteed scallops) were good relatively speaking. The garlic gave them some flavor.

                          Just as bad as being too oily, it seems like La Tasca shies away from flavor. Other than the fried items, almost everything was bland.

                          They have six desserts to choose from so that was cool. The Trufa con Helado de Vanilla was really good. (Dark chocolate truffle with vanilla bean ice cream.)

                          I would not go again. The waiter said they have the same all you can eat special every Wednesday, so I felt like I really wasted an RW lunch opportunity, too, if you know what I mean.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bmorecupcake
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                            bmorecupcake RE: bmorecupcake Aug 5, 2007 09:05 AM

                            I feel like I should add that service at La Tasca was very very good.

                          2. t
                            tartuffe RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 03:02 PM

                            I did a review of Capitol Grille and prime Rib. Here it is: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/426574 Very good experiences at both

                            1. aussiewonder RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 03:32 PM

                              The long version follows, but the short: fantastic dinner @ Bicycle, will def be going back. Horrendous lunch @ Black Olive and will only be going back @ someone else's expense.....

                              As with other reports, our dinner on Tuesday @ Bicycle was fantastic. We were five and so had the opportunity to try a little of everything. I will just mention highlights since it seems there are substantial reviews already...the carnivore that I am, decided to go against the grain and try the Vegie entree and it was terrific! The black jasmine rice was moist, the vegetables were diverse (beyond squash and asparagus), the red curry had a nice creamy texture with the accompanying salsa sweet enough to tone down the fire of the curry. Too often vegie entrees are meals minus the meat or a melange of boring vegetables, this was neither and so won points. Our table's overall consensus was a great meal that was spicier than the menu descriptions lead to believe - good thing we're all spicy food lovers. But if you're not, you might want to make it known.

                              At the other end of the scale...
                              Boss and I had reso's for lunch today. The food started strong (grilled calamari and the dip/spread selection) but dwindled from there.
                              From a food point of view, i was terribly disappointed with the salmon entree. It lacked any seasoning and tasted just like a piece of broiled piece of salmon. As another poster pointed out, the sides were dismal too, a few strewn lettuce leaves does not constitute a side (it's called 'Garnish') and while the scoop of sweet potato mash was tasty, I would hardly consider it a complimentary side given the season and the meal. But, i guess it's cheap. Dessert was very tiny, a single scoop of icecream or mousse.

                              Worse than the food? The service. I understand it's restaurant week and that servers aren't earning as much as they usually would. However, it's an out right marketing campaign, LIVE! So you should really give it your all and shine, bc this is the time to attract the infrequent diner and win them over to come back and spend, spend, spend. I had to ask our server for water, olives and drinks. Our entrees were dropped very unceremoniously before we were finished our app's and we were never asked if we'd like a refill on our drinks even though both our water and soda glasses were empty. I also had to ask for silverware for the entree since they cleared them with the app's. From the looks of other lunch patrons, we weren't the only ones experiencing 'less than stellar' service. The three ladies to my left were practically wilting as they waited 15minutes for water and menus (in the end, they got up and helped themselves to the latter), and from the looks exchanged by the four top to my companions left they were clearly unimpressed with the attitude of thier server as he 'dropped the meals' at thier table. Adding to the lack of appeal was a bar topped with napkins waiting to be folded, a hostess who avoided eye contact and a server who's cell phone was in his pocket and going off repeadtedly!

                              This is not the first time I've experienced disgusting service at the Black Olive, which is why i refuse to return on my dime. Carrying an attitude of air doesn't win you loyal patrons!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: aussiewonder
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                                misssphinx RE: aussiewonder Aug 2, 2007 03:51 PM

                                Yes! Our Black Olive entree sides were wilted, overdressed lettuce leaves and a few new potato halves. I didn't mind the salmon, as it seemed very fresh to me.

                                Your experience with service there sounds terrible. I guess we must have lucked out - our server was very professional.

                                1. re: aussiewonder
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                                  a70wilson RE: aussiewonder Aug 2, 2007 04:03 PM

                                  It is hard to believe this is the same place we were at on Monday. Honestly, I didn't notice the sides, so I can't comment on them, but we ate at the bar and were treated very very nicely. Water always full. The bottle of champagne that we ordered (the cheapest one) iced and our glasses refilled when they got close to the bottom. I loved the ice cream and guess I wasn't expecting it to be huge - by the time I get to the end, a couple bites of something sweet is all I need - especially if it is different and high quality (like the baklava ice cream).

                                  It did seem like either one of the owners or main managers was there as one man moved from the bar to the restaurant and made sure things were running smoothly. Maybe during the day, the staff is left more to themselves? I would guess the owners/managers would be mortified that things were not right during lunch service. Would you ever consider letting them know directly?

                                  1. re: a70wilson
                                    sistereurope RE: a70wilson Aug 2, 2007 04:27 PM

                                    I'm very happy to read all the positive reviews for the Bicycle. It's always been one
                                    of our faves, although I'm ashamed to admit that we haven't been there since the change in ownership/chef...we'll have to move it closer to the top of the list!
                                    Bad experience at the Black Olive (not during RW)...we won't ever go back.

                                    1. re: a70wilson
                                      aussiewonder RE: a70wilson Aug 3, 2007 08:50 AM

                                      From what I've heard about the owners, voicing my concerns would be futile. I've eaten @ the Black Olive enough times to find the service inconsistent and appaling, although I know others have not had the same experience. Simply? I just won't go back, there are other local restaurants who welcome my $ and are more deserving.

                                      When i was retelling my tale to my BF yesterday, i realised that i forgot to mention the most mortifying part. Our server had his cell phone in his pocket (not on vibrate, on ringer with flash) and it went off repeadtely during service. At that point, you just have to laugh and be thankful you only paid $20 for lunch!

                                  2. d
                                    daveinmd RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 04:49 PM

                                    Wow, all these great reviews for Bicycle! I'm so bummed that I couldn't get a reservation... but no surprise, given how good the food seems to be. Maybe I'll try going there for a special occasion in the future... (normally out of my price range).

                                    I'm a little worried about Black Olive now -- I'm going in about an hour!

                                    1. t
                                      travelbuff RE: daveinmd Aug 2, 2007 08:48 PM

                                      Well, it sounds like there's no hope of getting a reservation at Bicycle. Any thoughts on Fleming's or Timothy Dean's? BTW, I went to Black Olive once and it was the most over priced meal I've ever had. Terrible service and nothing special about the sides and below average salads. I was steamed that we spent that kind of money there. Any other reviews on Corks? I'd love to support them but it's not sounding too good food-wise (for RW anyway).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: travelbuff
                                        ko1 RE: travelbuff Aug 4, 2007 05:31 PM

                                        Here are my thoughts on Timothy Dean's in the link below.. We had a great experience.
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427991

                                      2. c
                                        charmedgirl RE: daveinmd Aug 3, 2007 05:49 AM

                                        Went to VIN earlier this week, and was decidedly not blown away. They clearly were having trouble keeping up with the Restaurant Week rush. All the servers and busers were practically running through the restaurant, took a long time for our order to be taken, water to be filled, food to be delivered, etc. A couple of the items weren't delivered as ordered. In some cases (several items left off a salad), this was easily remedied; in others (hanger steak ordered medium came well done), it basically ruined the meal. The server was pleasant though, and clearly doing the best she could.

                                        For my part, I had the salad to start, nothing special, but then I didn't expect it to be. I tried the tomato soup and it was tasty. Unlike my friend's steak, the salmon was cooked perfectly and quite delicious. The sweet potato wedges were also crispy on the outside and creamy inside. The sqaush was too oily for my liking. As mentioned, the steak was overcooked and my friend reported the cheesy mashed potatoes were .... not cheesy. The shrimp and ravioli dish looked great, and the bite I had of shrimp was really good. The ravioli was bland. For dessert, they were out of the best sounding one (mini banana split), but my apple tart was nice. The cardamon ice cream on top was a little better than nice. Reports of the chocolate ganache cake, which had come highly recommended by the bartender and waitress both, was just ok.

                                        Bottom line, for a $30 "deal" it was certainly worth it. If I had had the same experience paying full price I would NOT have been happy. But, I would probably go back, giving them the benefit of the doubt that boring preparation/service issues were due to RW. Plus, other stuff on the regular menu were quite tempting. I think I'll go back to try the grilled calamari alone.

                                        (And completely off the subject of RW, I am really sad to see all the slams of Black Olive. I went for lunch a month or so ago and LOVED it. Food was delicious and service was attentive. I sent a friend --and his future in laws whom he was hoping to impress! -- there the following weekend and he came back raving, saying they had a wonderful experience. I urge anyone who is interested in Black Olive to at least give it a try and see for yourself. Maybe outside RW??)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: charmedgirl
                                          d
                                          daveinmd RE: charmedgirl Aug 3, 2007 06:13 AM

                                          Well, I'm happy to report that we had a great experience at Black Olive last night, despite my fears going in after all the negative reports here. It took us about 10 minutes to get seated, despite our reservation at 9 PM, but service was excellent -- attentive, not too at all obtrusive or pushy. Wine glasses and water cups were refilled regularly without prompting, and I noticed several times that the wait-staff waited to "interrupt" us until a lull in the conversation at the table. Note: This might have varied from earlier experiences because we had a late dinner (9 PM), after most of the rush was over.

                                          To the food: Stuffed calamari was really good -- had a surprising burst of flavor from the cheese (feta?) inside, and the grilled scallops were excellent as well (Though I kept thinking -- this would go great with some bacon!). I loved the taste of hummus and some type of purplish (eggplant? fig?) spread that I got from my tablemate. . The two entrees -- dorade royale and filet of rockfish, were very good. The skins were beautifully crispy, but I wanted a little more seasoning (just salt!), and my preference would have been to have stopped cooking the fish just a minute earlier than they were cooked (to keep them a little juicier), but it was very nice. The roasted vegetables were excellent.

                                          Desserts were very good -- baklava ice cream and chocolate mousse. I was surprised how well the baklava bits in the ice cream kept their crispy texture in the ice cream, and it was a very nice combination. Chocolate mousse was a surprise -- not very sweet at all, a dark, almost bitter but wonderfully chocolat-y mousse.

                                          All in all, a great experience, and very worthwhile for $30!

                                          Tonight -- Oceannaire Seafood Room.

                                        2. b
                                          bluepig1 RE: daveinmd Aug 3, 2007 09:00 AM

                                          Went to Petit Louis last night - my first visit. Food and service were both pretty good but not outstanding.

                                          The RW menu consisted of dishes all found on the regular menu; on the RW menu they listed the regular prices next to each dish. Surprisingly the $30 3-course menu isn't really a "deal" unless you get the most expensive entree (steak au poivre at $20 regularly priced, with aps and dessert about $6 each), but I really wanted to try the duck confit ($17 regularly).

                                          The vichyssoise was extremely rich -- heavy on the cream but decent flavor. Duck was good but the overall dish very greasy (I suppose duck cooked in its own fat is supposed to be somewhat greasy), but the sauteed spinach seemed quite oily as well. The chocolate mousse at the end was also heavy -- both thick in consistency as well as how you felt afterwards. My friend ordered the "mixed seasonal fruits in sabayon", but got 2 peaches sliced up (a while before, apparently, as they were turning brown), covered with pudding-like custard. I guess that counts as "sabayon", but definitely not "mixed" fruits. They were decent as well.

                                          While other diners have reported slow service at other RW restaurants, we actually had the opposite -- we had a slightly overattentive waitress who clearly wanted to move us through as quickly as possible to accomodate the line of customers out the door. I've never been rushed through a French meal before, but that was the case here. It was also extremely noisy in the restaurant with all tables completely full.

                                          Will I go back? Maybe - I'd like to try the other menu items some other time when things aren't as crazy busy.

                                          1. prunuspersica RE: daveinmd Aug 3, 2007 10:35 AM

                                            I have to concur with most of the other posters re The Black Olive; while our experience on Tuesday evening was not horrific, it was certainly no ringing endorsement to return anytime soon. I essentially walked out feeling like I got exactly what I paid for, as opposed to being so impressed by the RW fare that I would happily return and spend more $$.

                                            The dip plate was fine, but only the size of an appetizer plate, which I found a little ridiculous considering the food cost of most of those ingredients is fairly low. And frankly, I had dips of the same quality, if not better, at Samos last night, in heaping portions.

                                            BF had the greek salad, which was what you would expect. Very small plate, very customary salad.

                                            I had the crabcake as my entree, which, while made up of jumbo lump crab, was very very dry, and about the size of a silver dollar. It was accompanied by four small potatoes. BF had the lamb, which was insanely dry, and was so tough i had to believe it was an end piece. Again, a few small potatoes.

                                            Baklava ice cream was good, but i found my mousse gritty and heavy. I love chocolate mousse to be light and airy, but perhaps that is just a personal preference.

                                            The service was fine.

                                            As others have mentioned, i believe the purpose of RW is to give us an opportunity to test the waters at places at which we might otherwise not feel confident spending our hard-earned money--in the hopes that our quality concerns will be quelled and we will return during regular time. I can say, I will not be returning to the Black Olive anytime soon to spend my money- they did not win me over.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: prunuspersica
                                              r
                                              Roland Parker RE: prunuspersica Aug 3, 2007 11:35 AM

                                              I too am not a fan of the Black Olive. It really is not that difficult to cook good fish at home (just broil a filet and squeeze on lemon juice and a little salt/pepper, and you have the best way to eat most fish).

                                              What stood out at the Black Olive was the last time I went, with a group of people. As we were being seated, the waitress immediately brought over several bottles of sparking pellegrino and baskets of bread. We all thought, how wonderful, what a nice compliment. It wasn't until after paying the seemingly too high bill that we realized the waitress had charged us $5 per bottle of Pellegrino. Not only can I buy the same bottle at .99 a pop, but none of us had asked for Pellegrino, nor did we have any intention of ordering Pellegrino. The experience still rankles me.

                                              1. re: Roland Parker
                                                aussiewonder RE: Roland Parker Aug 3, 2007 02:18 PM

                                                On my first visit a couple of years ago the four gals and I decided to do a night out @ Black Olive. All of us are, or were, industry gals ranging from hostess with the mostess, to chef and owner. So while we may be quite scrutinizing about some things, given we are industry we are very lenient on others. We ordered the first bottle of wine @ mid-price (which on the BO list is closer to $100 than mid-priced wine should be; their cheapest bottle i saw on Thursday was $75). When we went to reorder we asked for recommendations and were shown bottles significantly higher than our original bottle and then some...i'm talking $150 - $225. We were not impressed, that is one conniving move to bump a check. We were so insulted and that has always stuck with me.

                                                So Roland Parker, your $5 Pellegrino experience doesn't surprise me. Imagine if they had poured VOSS water!

                                            2. p
                                              PaulaG RE: daveinmd Aug 4, 2007 09:00 AM

                                              I posted this as a seperate topic, but maybe it belongs under RW reviews:

                                              I know they've only been open for a couple of weeks, but my husband and I decided to try Watertable at the Renaissance at Harborplace, based on the stellar press release sent to The Sun. They have a long way to go. The RW menu was completely different from the one on the website; I was told that it had been "concieved months ago, before the menu was really written." Isn't the beauty of the internet the fact that you can update content?

                                              The restaurant space is handsome, and the dary cherrywood floors are a far cry from the pale green hotel carpeting that Windows had (The Renaissance's former restaurant). The view of the harbor is nice, but if you're sittting directly by a window you'e treated to more of a view of the neon of the Pratt Street Pavillion and the traffic of Pratt Street. The place was only about 1/4 occupied at 8:30 Thursday night.

                                              I was looking forward to the filet and shortrib dish published; alas there was no red meat offered. Apps were either a crab bisque or a mixed greens salad with prosciutto and cantelope. Entrees were either a crispy salmon fillet over faro with shiitakes and spinach, or a chicken breast with summer potato salad (huh? I can do that at home.) We chose the bisque and salmon.

                                              The regular menu has small plate "tastings," with such things as beet and goat cheese bruschetta, batter-fried green beans (doesn't Friday's have those?), and shrimp cocktail ($4 per shrimp). There's another list of apps, and most entrees hover near $30.

                                              We were given tepid, ice-free glasses of water. The wine list is pedestrian (the usual labels you can find at any corner carryout) and marked up way beyond the usual. Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio was the cheapest bottle at $25; it retails for about $9. There are no prices listed on the menu for any of the special cocktails (be warned: $11-12 apiece) or beers.

                                              We decided to each have a beer, and the very nice server poured mine into a chilled glass. The problem? I went to take a sip, and the glass reeked of bleach! It was replaced rather quickly once I flagged another server and she took a whiff.

                                              The "crab bisque" was a brown roux with maybe a 1/4 pinch of Old Bay, diced potatoes (skin on), still-crunchy celery, a couple of shards of corn (not even whole kernels), creme fraiche (I think), and a teaspoon of crab meat. We borrowed salt from another table because there was seemingly none in the tasteless soup. It was also lukewarm.

                                              My husband commented at how sad everything was, compared to our wonderful experience at Bicycle. I tried to make some jokes about it. After a longish delay (our server twice promised that the entrees were on their way), two men in suits and dress shirts (no ties, shirts casually unbuttoned at the neck) set down our salmon.

                                              I glanced down, and there was something moving on my fish! I watched a meal moth skitter across the edge of the salmon, before falling into the broth. The guy saw it, too, and grabbed the plate, saying "We'll just make you another one." I told him I hoped they wouldn't just be scooping the bug out of that one and bringing it back.

                                              My husband just stared at his plate. I didn't want "another one". We asked for the manager, who was one of the suited guys. I explained our various concerns, and asked to settle any bill. He replied that there would be no charge, and low-key apologized without really trying to find a way to right the situation.

                                              We salvaged the night with a couple late-night plates of pasta at the low-key but reliable Amicci's.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: PaulaG
                                                prunuspersica RE: PaulaG Aug 4, 2007 01:58 PM

                                                i think i speak for almost everyone when i say.....wow. that story has impact.

                                              2. j
                                                jes RE: daveinmd Aug 5, 2007 06:37 AM

                                                Went to Tio Pepe's last night. Me, boyfriend and boyfriends parents. Ordered a pitcher of sangria and dad had a diet coke. I had the mushroom on toast appitizer which was great, also tasted boyfriend gazpacho which had a nice kick to it, mom and dad both had salds which they liked and looked nice. three of us had chicken, it was okay. nice and moist but interesting sauce that im not sure quite it went. Boyfriend had the tilapia which he liked. For dessert I had the walnut roll which was the hit of the night. boyfriend had the flan, which had a nice kick to it and mom had the chocolate roll. (dad doesnt eat dessert). Service was a bit disorganzied but on the whole, we all very much enjoyed the night.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: jes
                                                  h
                                                  Hue RE: jes Aug 5, 2007 07:33 AM

                                                  One thing about Tio Pepes it may not WOW you(but it can at times) but it is soooo dependable

                                                2. s
                                                  sweetpotater RE: daveinmd Aug 5, 2007 02:11 PM

                                                  Thursday we went to Roy's. It was very crowded -- they clearly overbooked -- and we were seated at 8 for our 7:15 reservation. No apologies, just 45 minutes crammed into the front of the house. Once seated, service was clearly rushed. I have eaten there once before and found the food not as good this time around. The dumpling on the appetizer plate was cold and bland, the rib dry, the shrimp dull. The shortribs entree was okay, the macadamia hamachi completely bland, the fire-rim shrimp with pad thai poorly executed. The chocolate souffle was delicious but ours had collapsed, sending the chocolately goodness oozing all over the plate before it arrived at table, and they tried to cover it up by surrounding it by huge strawberries. Send that to a table that only ordered one, so you can't compare -- the other souffle at our table was perfectly formed, thou sans strawberries, because hers were obviously being used to patch our dish.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: sweetpotater
                                                    aussiewonder RE: sweetpotater Aug 6, 2007 11:47 AM

                                                    FYI - Roys offers a $30 three course meal as part of their reg menu. I can't remember how it differs from the selections offered during RW, but i believe it's a choice of thier selection of apps, choice of three entrees, and choice of two desserts (one being 'the chocolate' souffle). I really enjoy the food there but have also found the service to fluctuate, when it's good it's very very good and when it's bad....it's horrid! The tuna app is enough to make me come back again and again. I swear i get cravings for it. It's a seared tuna with a hot mustard sauce on the side, but boy! is it good.

                                                  2. h
                                                    hopeinmee RE: daveinmd Aug 5, 2007 06:00 PM

                                                    Went to Gertrude's tonight for RW. The service was horrible! They rushed us in and out despite there being empty tables. We were barely done our first course when they were bringing the second course. We asked to take food home and the waitress had us box the food ourselves without. The breadbasket sat empty until we stopped someone to ask for more bread with our meal. Our water glasses were empty for a portion of the meal without being refilled. At the end of the meal, we sat wondering whether or not to leave a tip which we will usually leave at least a 20% tip if not more for good service.

                                                    The food was good but our expectations were not met. After reading great reviews and hearing good things about Gertrude's and the chef, we were expecting a great meal which this wasn't. The flounder look small as was the gazpacho serving. It was barely five spoonfuls worth. And for the grand finale, the cake tasted like it was from a powder mix. We felt the meal could have been made at home which would have tasted better and been more enjoyable. I would not recommend this restaurant after this experience tonight.

                                                    1. i
                                                      ittastessogood RE: daveinmd Aug 6, 2007 07:25 AM

                                                      I tried Nasu Blanca on saturday of RW. I thought the food was spectacular and I tried the gazpacho with crab meat that had been tossed in a jalapeno and herb vinagrette, it was awesome. I then moved on to their RW tasting menu. I had the ginger dressing salad which was tasty. Then I had the strip steak which was cooked perfectly. I really enjoyed my entire experience there.

                                                      1. locustpointgirl RE: daveinmd Aug 6, 2007 08:52 AM

                                                        We ate at Nasu Blanca as well on Saturday evening. It was a nice opportunity to try a restaurant that we had been meaning to go to, but somehow never made it. And we live a block away... (In our defense, we've only lived in B'more since March)

                                                        We arrived a few minutes early for our 8:15 reservation and were seated right away. The food was wonderful and our server was attentive and helpful all evening. We both went for the wine pairings with the RW menu for an extra $15 each. The choices were great.

                                                        I had the Japanese eggplant with sake, my husband had the mussels with a Spanish white wine. For our main course, I ordered the paella and chose a red over a white (not a white fan, myself) and husband had the Walu with a sake. Although we enjoyed our main dishes, the appetizers were both exceptional.

                                                        All of the food was excellent, and even though I think their prices are a bit on the high side (I balk a bit at the fact that normally NB charges over $25 for a bowl of paella, considered peasant's food in most parts of the world...) based on the quality of the food and service (and proximity to our front door) I would bet we'll be back. Like most places I've seen reviewed here, RW was a great excuse to go.

                                                        1. d
                                                          daveinmd RE: daveinmd Aug 10, 2007 08:27 AM

                                                          Oceannaire Seafood Room Review

                                                          Overall: Great service, food was good but not amazing, large portions, well worth the $$ for restaurant week.

                                                          Apps: Spicy Asian Calamari & Clam Chowder, Steamed Mussels in white wine, seared big-eye tuna. (the last two were ordered off the RW menu)

                                                          The calamari itself was a nice texture, but the breading could have been crisper. Tasty, but just good enough to feel like it was a dish with a lot more potential (e.g. sharper flavors and crispier texture would made this an amazing dish). The chowder was uninspired. Mussels were REALLY GOOD (albeit simple -- I'm going to make this at home!), I wanted to drink the steaming liquid in the bowl. The bigeye tuna was very good as well. Unfortunately, both of these items were not on the RW menu.

                                                          Entrees: Stuffed whitefish (halibut?), or seared swordfish.

                                                          The stuffed halibut (crab + some type of cheese) was rich and very good. The seared swordfish was a huge portion, but somewhat underseasoned, in my opinion. Nice texture, though.

                                                          Desserts: Fresh strawberry sorbet or brownies + ice cream

                                                          Reasonably good, again, not amazing.

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