Christmas Eve Family Dinner in Baltimore
My family used to have a big traditional gathering Christmas Eve, but sadly, the family has dwindled. . . so for the last few years we've been trying to gather the remaining folks for a nice dinner out. In the past we've been to Terseiguel's. Now we generally love Terseiguel's and have gone for many a special occasion, but at Christmas it seemed rushed and we came away feeling disappointed. We also tried Aida last year (parents live in Columbia and are regulars there and I'm enough of a fan that it's my go-to recomendation when someone posts asking for a resturant in Columbia), but this year we want to try something new. I was thinking along the lines of Abercrombie, but sadly, that is still closed. Any ideas for someplace nice where the service will be lovely even on Christmas Eve, but that is not quite Charleston in price? Much obliged.
The Dogwood Restaurant, in Hampden, is doing an Irish Feast of Seven Fishes for $55/per person. The menu includes:
Mussels Gratinee, Oyster Stew, Sea Scallop and Langoustine Medallion, Irish Fishmonger’s Pie with smoked cod, Line Caught Alaskan Halibut, and Rustic Wild Salmon Pate. Dessert: Apple and Jameson Tart.
try corks in federal hill. not certain they are open christmas eve, but had a very reasonable & quite tasty meal there on thanksgiving.
If you decide to go Italian, Aldos in Little Italy would be a nice spot! A family business and they really do a great job w/ both the food and the hospitality. I have never been disappointed. Probably reserved already but ask if the wine cellar is available...holds up to 12-14 comfortably.
Oregon Grille never disappoints--excellent meat and fish, and they have a couple of private room.
So, we decided on Aldo's, and sadly I must report that we were disappointed.
They had the feast of seven fishes and the regular menu.
two at the table, myself included, went the seven fishes route:
first course was mixed fried seafood with salt cod, calamari, etc. fine enough but not the best calamari I've had, a bit on the soggy side.
next was a cold seafood salad or a crab & lobster sheery-based soup. both of us got the soup, which was quite rich. perfectly smooth and decadent. The best course of the meal.
Next was a bronzini stuffed with crab meat (there was another choice but we both got the same thing, sorry). I sounded lovely but seemed to fall flat - a rather nondescript tomato sauce on top. The truffled-saffrom mashed potatoes were pretty darn good though.
Trio of deserts came next - I'm a big fan of bread pudding and this one was good and simple, and just the right size at the end of a meal. The biscotti was good, but dispite my trying valiantly no one was around for me to ask for coffee, or a liquour for dunking. Other bite of desert was chocolate coated cornflakes.
there was a complementary house-made creamed limoncello at the end, which was a nice touch, though it tasted a bit like an alcoholic creamscile.
The other two family members had: truffled lobster risotto (very rich, quite good) as an appitizer and veal saltimbocca. My mother had escargot w/ mushrooms in a puff pastry for an appitizer (also very, very good) and a veal dish for dinner. I don't eat veal, but they reported happiness with their entree choices.
However, the most unfortunate note of the evening was the wine service. Now I drink a fair amount of wine. I will not claim to be an expert, but I drink enough wine to have opinions and usually make an informed choice off a wine list. So the fromt of their wine leaflet says that they enjoy stocking small Italian variatals that are not well known. Now that sounds about perfect to me, I love exploring new wines! So I peruse the menu and when the waiter comes around I ask first if they have wine pairings with the seven fishes menu and am informed rather rudely that they do not because wine pairing really isn't necessary, it is all up to my own tastes. Hmmm? I know what wine I like, I know we all are supposed to have moved beyond red for beef, white for fish, but isn't that really one of the great things about wine? How much better the right combination of food and wine elevate both beyond what they were alone? But ok, they don't have wine pairings picked out, fine. So, I then say, well, you have this interesting section of lesser know Italian whites. We'd like to explore some of these, we tend to like X,Y, Z kind of characteristics in our wines, do you or your sommilier have any suggestions so we could try an Italian wine? And I get, well I gues you could jusy go with a Pinot Grigio. hmm. well, which pinot grigio do you recomend out of your selection - of the most expensive one of course. The bottle we ended up with was actually fine. When time came for the second bottle of the night I tried again: out of you wine list, I would normally order this bottle, however, I would like to explore your interesting selections, could you or your sommiler offer some suggestions that would be along those lines but something we haven't tried before? The waiter actually rolled his eyes at me! He did make a selection, left and found out it was out and returned with a different suggestion from the wine manager, which was better than the first bottle. Still, if you are going for a special occasion you expect it to be special. If I'm paying $100+ per person for food and wine, I expect my waiter to know something about the wine, if not, for them to at least get me the wine manager, and for heavens sakes not to roll their eyes at me when I am trying to pay $70 for a bottle of wine.
I suspect that next year we will cook ourselves, but I can say we will not be returning to Aldo's.