Baltimore Rest. Week Reports
I didn't see a thread yet on reports from RW, so I thought I'd start one.
We went to Tiburzi's in Canton last night (Monday) and had a really nice meal. It was not at all crowded, but we were there late 8:15 and it was Monday (I think some folks are used to places being closed on Mondays).
They brought out a basket of bread with a whole head of roasted garlic (plus a plate of olive oil for dipping), so you could spread the soft garlic on the bread yourself. The boy had the cream of crab soup - and said the crab was really sweet. He had the steak - which came with asparagus and mashed potatoes. It was cooked just as he ordered it. Being veggie, I didn't have the RW menu - pieced together some bruschetta and salad, both of which were tasty. He finished off with the creme brulee, which we both ate. I'm usually not a fan, but this was really good - strong vanilla flavors.
If your other choices are full, and even if they aren't, I'd recommend giving Tiburzi's a try. It was a bit sad to see it so empty. The service was friendly and attentive - the boy also gave a big thumbs up to the Manhattan he ordered.
Tiburzi's Italian Grill & Cafe
900 S Kenwood Ave, Baltimore, MD
Went to Bicycle Tuesday (29th) night. Overall the experience was quite decent. Ambience was pleasant. Yes, it was loud, but we didn't feel cramped. We called to let them know we'd be a little late, and it wasn't a problem. We were seated immediately. It was packed and they had to turn away some walk-ins. Service was prompt and courteous. I like how they left a jug of water at table and kept refilling it.
As far as the food, mostly it was very good. We didn't really care for the crunchy breadsticks or cracker-like things at the table, but they were an interesting alternative to serving bread. The tuna-avacado app was very good, the accompanying sauce excellent; although I wish we had them hold the fish roe on top. Just didn't like it personally, is all. The spicy corn crab soup was very very good. Loved it. The mahi mahi was amazing. Whatever vegetable that was under the mahi mahi, it was very tasty. I don't like bread pudding, but their bread pudding was something else, just amazing. And the peanut butter cups, a taste of heaven. For the true peanut butter and chocolate fan, but remember to scrape along some of the caramel sauce with it. I actually liked their coffee a lot, too; served freshly brewed in a french press. The table next to us got the Sweet Potato Napoleon Cake and it looked very scrumptuous.
The only disappointment for us was the Vegetarian Nirvana. I know a lot of people like it, and I really wanted to, and I even made myself believe I liked it in the first couple bites, but at the end, I had to admit to my dining partner that it just wasn't good. Could have been just my specific serving. The first bites were spicy and I liked that, but after that, it just felt so so heavy. I think it was the black layer on the bottom (black rice cake?). Also, overall the dish was oily and sat in my stomach all the way home. Not my idea of Nirvana. If you must get it, eat it right away while it's hot as it doesn't taste decent at all later. At least they tried, I guess.
Portions sizes were actually spot on. At first we thought we'd leave still hungry, but the portions were such that by the end we were at that perfect spot between full and stuffed. As far as overall satisfaction, I really don't eat out at these kinds of "fancy" places, and I found $85 for 2 people (incl. coffee, tea, and tip) to be a quite expensive. I guess if I was more into presentation and such things, I would be more appreciative. So if you're like me, and haven't really done fine-dining or semi-fine-dining before, you might be questioning if it was worth it when you leave. At least the experience was smooth, in stark contrast with horror stories at other places in the summer RW thread. Also, lots of people were in jeans (with nice shirts, though.) We were a little overdressed for sure.
I went to the Oceanaire last night and was surprised that the portion sizes were the same as when I dined there previously. Sometimes, you get smaller portions due to he RW price. The restaurant was full but our diner progressed smoothly with the courses being timed perfectly. The crabcakes that I had looked to have no filler and the crab was tasty. My guest, not being a fish lover had the filet which also was perfectly cooked. They also had some feature RW wine choices for $8 and with that got a generous pour. The service was great and so was the ambiance. A definate try and if you can't get in this week, our server told us they were one of the restaurants that are extending RW another week.
We went to Shula's on Monday night for RW dinner. Overall, the experience was just ok - very restaurant week feeling. We were a few minutes late, and they were very accommodating. Everyone seemed friendly, and the manager stopped over to greet us as we were dining.
I started with the wedge salad, which was a large portion, and tasted great. Hubby got the caesar salad, and said it was just ok - he didn't finish it, so that means it must have been pretty bad!
For my entree, I got the NY Strip Steak, and it was cooked perfectly. It tasted good, but not great. The accompanying asparagus was tender, but the mashed potatoes were very bland. Hubby got the Prime Rib, which was way under cooked, and he had to send it back. He wasn't all that impressed with the flavor. I tasted it & "didn't mind it", but that's not what I want my reaction to be when I'm at a steakhouse.
For dessert, I had the Grand Marnier Creme Brulee, which was tasty, and he had the cheesecake, also delicious.
Some aspects of the service was iffy - we got bread delivered to the table as we were finishing our entrees. The table next to us had their creme brulee sent back - couldn't hear the reason, but the server was apologizing profusely. We were in and out of there in under an hour, feeling a bit rushed. Overall - again, just ok.
We are trying Junior's in Federal Hill tonight, so I'll try to report back!
Hey guys, just got back from lunch at the Capital Grille. Overall it was a pretty good experience. Doesn’t hurt that it’s the only upscale steakhouse that serves lunch (as far I as can remember).
The decorum: almost exactly what you’d expect it to look like – good finish and plenty of paintings or other pieces of old-barron artistic touches here and there. The area is bright, much brighter than any of the other high-end steakhouses I’ve been to (though this may be only for lunch), and they’ve partitioned the dining room into many sections whether by wall or by door. It’s a smart move in my opinion. Wine bottles deck the area out (which I have no problem with). We were seated by a full window façade with a view of the aquarium/harbor. It’s a bright day, so that was nice.
The service: good as expected, though nothing exceptional. The greeter was very perky and quite helpful, even with the packed crowds. Our server was friendly and mostly stayed out of our way as we talked through our lunch. She refilled our glasses as needed, but she never came by to our table after the entrees were served to ask “how is everything” (or something along that nature). I still feel that that was odd. It’s like the first thing I always expect.
The all important food: Clam chowder was good. At first bite I thought it a bit plain and light on flavor, but after a few more I really developed a like for it. The flavors, textures, and pieces all blended exceptionally well for a clam chowder. If this is what they were trying to go for (a lighter but very well meshed soup) then they really hit a good spot.
I had the filet mignon au jus. I was disappointed that it came to the table kinda cold. You could almost tell right by looking at it without even tasting it. However, I didn’t send it back because the first bite was still quite good. The meat was superbly tender and perfectly cooked to medium rare order (I tend to think a lot of restaurants don’t necessarily overcook but rather instead have a different, more well-done, expectation of what a ‘medium rare’ or ‘medium’ should look like). Flavors were not too strong, but worked well with the jus. I had the creamed spinach and it was pretty good, blessedly not too creamy (though I know some people like it that way). I also tried the lobster and crab burger. I’ll be honest, I still don’t know how I feel about that. I wasn’t in bliss but I didn’t think it was bad; it was kinda just there. It was well made and went great with their tarter sauce (loved their tarter sauce), but it really didn’t leave a strong impression either way. I suppose that says something in itself though. The fries that were ordered with that were good. Crisp without being tough, well salted, but in the end: they’re just fries. I saw a table beside us all get the ‘home-made’ chips and have been wondering ever since if we were missing out on something.
Desserts were interesting: we actually ended up swapping our desserts. I ordered the espresso chocolate cake. I’ll admit that it was very well done with a nice texture and raspberries on the side. However, I was not expecting it to be so packed full of espresso flavor. It was almost all espresso and barley any chocolate, and while I’m a fan of espresso for my drink, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for in dessert. My lunch partner loved it though (and I can absolutely understand why someone would). I swapped with her cheesecake. It was a very well made cheesecake with a delicious crumbling but not at all dry crust. Paired with strawberries and topped with strawberry sauce I thought it was an excellent way to finish.
I was very happy when I left. I’d recommend it if you can make it for lunch (and/or probably dinner too). From what I was told though they are NOT extending their RW, and since they don’t do RW on their weekends, tonight and tomorrow are the last chances. Would I go back for a regular meal? Sure, though it would probably still be lunch rather than dinner just because their open.
See you all in a few for a review on the other places.
Went to Bicycle on Monday night with my gf. Was a very nice experience: terrific service and atmosphere, but I wasn't blown away by the food. Tuna + avocado app was very tasty, but I wanted a little more texture and maybe some citrus to cut the richness (perhaps some thinly diced red onion?). The spicy crab soup was good too. The lobster ravioli was terrific; I really liked the texture of the ravioli but thought the lobster could have come out more strongly in the filling. The Mongolian BBQ braised shortribs had a lovely melting texture, but were a little too sweet and not smoky enough for my palate. Desserts were good: my favorite was the sweet potato Napoleon cake, though the bread pudding was certainly good as well.
Thursday I went to Tio Pepe with a bunch of friends, and we all shared. I thought the gazpacho was wonderful: cold, silky smooth soup with nicely crunchy diced vegetables. The seafood soup (not on the RW menu) was even better: really savory, warming, and the chock full of perfectly (i.e. NOT over) cooked fish, mussels, clams. The fish in the main entrees (sole, tilapia, salmon) were again perfectly cooked, but the flavor profile was a little strange: either bland, or with a strange sweetness that didn't pair well with the dish (sole with bananas??). The brochette tenderloin with a red wine sauce was good. The roast suckling pig (one of their specialities, NOT on their RW menu) had terrific crisped skin, but the meat itself was a little dried out, and flavor/aroma wise reminded me of overcooked Thanksgiving turkey. It was salvaged with some applesauce that came on the side, however. Desserts were not particularly memorable.
Went Roy's Thursday- it was a disapointment.
Do not try their Sangria- their charm city red sangria is all soda none of the rich flavor blends I expect from the drink- The Mai Tai was the better choice
The App a trio of grilled shrimp, rib and pork potsicker was good but just that.
I had the shrimp and Mushroom risotto- it was badly cooked rice with cream of mushroom soup stirred in with grilled shrimp on top (shrimp were again good) the dish was just lack luster and you'd think that if you are going to serve a dish a hundred times you at least make an attempt to get it right.
My friend had the beef dish, the meat was fine but the vegetable on the side were just steamed no flavor or anything- it looked like cafeteria food
For dessert they had 1 option a chocolate cake with rasberry sauce-it was fine but really uninspired.
Last night went to Petite Louis and it was great!!!
I love this place so I had high expectations.
The salad was a simple frisee with goat cheese, pears and walnuts
I had the Salmon wich was cooked perfectly with a great crusty texture and the butter sauce was lick your fingers good. It was served with a Potato gratin that was tasty as well.
Friends had the Beef burgundy and loved it.
The desert was berries and cream or choclate mouse, we all shared and bother were fabulous.
Now we couldn't resist the cheese cart and had an amazing smoked sheep milk cheese, a robust pressed sheep's milk cheese and a zesty rouquefort.
It was crowded and loudy as to be expected but was lively not annoying and service was great.
Tonight we are going to Taste- I've never been I'll report back
We went to Petite Louis for lunch.
We had the Oxtail soup and Potato Soup to start. Oxtail soup was just average. Potato Soup was so delicious. Great flavor and super creamy texture. Next time I go I will be getting this soup again.
Next was the Croque Monsieur and Louis Casse-Croutes (steak sandwich). Croque Monsieur was ok, but got so much better when they brought us a little bowl of dijion mustard for it. The steak sandwich was really the highlight. It was small, but the steak was cooked perfectly, the bread was just the right amount of crunchy and chewy, the onions were sweet and complimented the steak nicely. It came with 2 grilled tomatoes which were amazing. Bother sandwiches came with frites that were very delicious.
Dessert left much to be desired. Options were a chocolate cake thing (Roulade au Chocolat). It has a nice flavor, but we didn't finish it. The fruit dessert was a pear cooked in a port wine reduction. It was ok, we didn't finish it all either. I just wasn't excited about either one of them.
I got the wine pairing for $6 with my dish and it was excellent. It did really compliment my sandwich well.
We enjoyed it. Service was good, but we went for lunch on Friday and were some of the youngest patrons by at least 20 years :). We will head back sometime, but maybe for dinner or lunch on a weekend.
Went to Vin for dinner the other day: it really wasn't that impressive, but not as bad as I was dreading from reading other comments. The butternut squash puree was simple but good, striking the right blend of spices. The hangar steak was fantastic: a tender and flavorful piece of meat that was wonderfully cooked with decent (but not really cheesy as advertised) mashed potatoes. The chicken however, was a big disappointment: well cooked but otherwise bland, flavorless, uncreative. The dessert was the real low point. Everything was mushy, either flavorless goo or too much of one flavor (cinnamon in one case). Pretty unfortunate. I found myself not minding the decor (the poor seat choices notwithstanding) with the red hues and the flat screen TVs. However, it is a LOUD place, and the fact that there was a loud humming that started in the middle of eating did not help. Manager came and told us that it was the heating being turned on and that it would stop momentarily (which it eventually did). Our service was top notch overall though. I think I'd actually recommend the place for RW, but probably not for standard fare just because their prices are so high. The haven't reached that tier which they want yet. It doesn't help when you'll look around to find many people in suits but also many people in ratty jeans and T-shirts. Hold your ground to a dress code (chic casual is fine, casual casual shouldn't be) even if you lose a little business.
Also went to Della Notte for lunch. I was dreading this a bit as I've heard generally unimpressive attitudes towards the gaudy monstrosity of little Italy, but I wasn't the one that made the decision. It came down to: food = pretty good but atmosphere = quite bad. I had the mushroom & polenta and really enjoyed it. It wasn't perfectly executed, but it was a definite pleaser. The eggplant appetizer was also along that line. My stuffed chicken was the disappointment of the table: extremely dry chicken and unmeshed stuffing. The saffron rice that came with was finished though. However, the other entrees that we had, the shrimp fettuccine and the salmon were very good (braised leeks with the salmon was excellent). The desserts were well executed, though not necessarily up to the perfection of something like Vaccaros (however, the strawberries in egg custard was really perfect).
The problem was atmosphere. The jazz band (a sunday thing only I'm told) was incredibly loud - as in yell at the people on the other side of the table sort of loud. I personally found the huge tree a bit ridiculous, though I suppose that's a matter of taste. Our waitress was stiff, low-key, but professional, but unfortunately she was the "best" of the bunch. All the staff that we witness ranged from cold to rude (harsh bored tones, often interrupting conversations). One of the tables near us left in the middle of lunch seemingly because of the service. It was a bit disappointing to see in the middle of a quite acceptable lunch.
Went to Jack's Bistro on Tues for RW with a group of 8. Really, really enjoyed it, as with my other Jack's experience.
All the RW menu choices came off the regular menu. We had a selection of 4 courses - appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert -- pick 3 of the 4 for the RW prix fixe. My app was the Jack's Oysters -- a trio of cooked oysters cooked in the half shell topped with 2 shrimp and a lovely cheese sauce - I thoroughly enjoyed this dish though the portion size (and oyster size) was a little small. Main entree was the Sous Vide Duck Cassoulet, which was terrific. Not having had much cooked by the sous vide method, I was blown away at how absolutely tender and melt-in-my-mouth the duck breast was (with a delicious seared crust on one side), on top of a very flavorful cassoulet (sort of stew-like) with beans and veggies.
Dessert was my standby - the duet of apple. The warm apple cake and apple strudel on one side with the cinnamon ice cream on the other were yummy as well even if the dish wasn't particularly inventive. Our dining companions had the lavender pink peppercorn ice cream - I had a taste and it was pretty awesome.
Overall the service was great -- nothing out of the ordinary despite the crowded environment for a Tuesday night. Jack's remains on my list of favorite places in town.
My friends and I went to Pazo for RW. We started with a goat cheese dip that was very light and good but not wowing. Then we had the empandas and a shrimp dish. Both were excellent. Our main dish was a beef with mashed potatoes and wilted greens and scallops with raisins and some sauce. The beef was amazing. There was no need for a knife because you could cut it with a knife. The scallops were cooked very well but I did not like the sauce it was in. Dessert was a Catalan Creme Brulee. I don't really like Creme Brulee but my friends loved it. Overall, the service was very good although sometimes too attentive. The waiter was very helpful will picking out a wine that I would enjoy. The space is beautiful although a little loud. It was a wonderful experience. The complementary valet wasn't a bad touch either.
Finished out RW at Taste last night (sun) and it was a pleasent surprise.
They had several selection for each course- more than I had seen at the other places we tried.
I had the Crab bisque, it was a tomato bisque base with crab it was not what I expected but was great, rich and creamy. My husband had the chili with cornbread crutons- he was delighted. My father had the tomato bread pudding and again not what he had envisioned but the flavors were great.
For a main course I had mushroom risotto- finally a good dish, compared to my experience at Roy's. Flavors and textures were spot on.
For desert I had the seasonal sorbet (rasberry) it was what you'd expect and I enjoyed it, they also had a pepermint ice cream with chocolate sauce, my mother had that and it was yummy!
only really weird/bad item was an Indian pudding- it was hard to figure out just what it was, it had a pumpkin like flavor and was grainy, more odd than bad.
Oh and they had fabulous sangria!
I had never been to the place and I highly reccomend the place for future RWs!
Friday night a group of six of us went to The Black Olive. We weren't that impressed with the meal or the service. Two people ordered the lamb cooked in parchment paper. (There's a Greek work for this that starts with a K, but I can't remember it and google isn't being helpful about it.) The lamb was very overcooked. My husband's grouper filet was well-seasoned but also very overcooked. My whole fish Dorado was decent, but the vegtable/rice pilaf was cold by the time I got my plate. The appetizers (Greek spreads and octopus salad) were excellent and proved to be the highlight of the meal. My husband's water glass sat empty for most of the evening.
Saturday night we went to La Tavola for a friend's birthday. We've only lived in Baltimore for about a year and have so far avoided most of Little Italy mostly because of the mediocre reviews from other 'Hounds. My impression was that it was mostly an area for tourist dining. I have to say that I think both our food and the service was better at La Tavola than at The Black Olive. My husband and I both ordered the Zuppa di Pesce (fish and shellfish in a light tomato broth). We don't typically order the same thing when we go out, but after our RW experience at The Black Olive the night before, we were feeling a little pessimistic and threw caution to the wind. The Zuppa was great — we were both happy we didn't have to share.
I will comment on the portions at La Tavola. We were with a very large group of people. Most of the group ordered off the RW menu, but some ordered off of the regular menu. The size of the portions was staggeringly different. Those ordering from the regular menu had huge, heaping dishes delivered to the table. RW selections proved to be rather skimpy in comparison. The Zuppa we both ordered seemed the most substantial RW selection and I certainly didn't leave hungry, so I didn't mind.
The service at La Tavola was also quite a bit better than at The Black Olive. We had one waiter for a huge table and he was attentive and accommodating the entire evening. We were very impressed and let him know.
Normally, I wouldn't bother comparing these two very different restaurants, but RW (and a friend's birthday) provided an interesting and expectation-busting experience. I felt like The Black Olive had a real chance to convince us that the experience of eating there would be worth it even without the highly-discounted prices. They blew that opportunity and I'm not sure we'll be back. Baltimore has a lot of great options for dining and I'd rather check out someplace new than go back to a restaurant that didn't seem to bother the first time around.
Thanks for the review. I am always surprised with the high praise that Black Olive recieves. I found the servce abysmal, the management dysfunctional, and the food average. At the prices that they charge, not worth the headaches.
My experience was going on 7-8 years ago, but I hadn't been back and was contemplating doing so, based on other reviews. But now I know I'm not missing anything.....so thanks for the update!
Glad you like La Tavola. I always had a soft spot in my heart for it, I ran across it when wandering about Baltimore on a day off 10 years ago and had a lovely meal with superb service. I haven't been there in years, but am glad to know they still are the same La Tavola I fondly remember.