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Feb 27, 2008 11:52 AM

Concert at Myerhoff and Dinner at ??? for Birthday

My fiance is taking me to dinner and the Symphony on the Friday after next (They're playing Beethoven's 5th...ideas like this remind me why I'm marrying him). Anyhoo, We are usually on a tight entertainment budget which pretty much precludes eating out at anywhere more expensive than our local pizza joint, but he has declared this plan as being outside the budget since it's my 25th birthday. (the last birthday where good things happen for a while...woohoo lower insurance!)

So, within walking distance of the Myerhoff there seems to be a whole host of interesting options. (Abacrombie, Brewer's Art, Dukem, etc) But...Budget or no, we'd like to keep it still relatively affordable. Like...under $150 (and really under $100 is more like it) with drinks for the two of us. We are both adventurous eaters, though he has no patience for 'cute' or trendy food. And it'd be nice if it was relatively romantic or at least has an interesting vibe. Oh...and if we could actually get pretty dressed up and not look out of place that'd be great too. I haven't gotten to wear any of my pretty dresses in forever.

So what do you recommend...and please give me an idea of the relative costs if you can.

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  1. I would recommend b bistro in Bolton Hill. It has a wide ranging menu from cheaper pizzas and sandwiches to more expensive entrees. Risotto of the day is always good there. Great fun vibe! You would fit in dressed up or down. Enjoy!

    1. I second b. It is def one of the less expensive options, although not sure how it'd fit w/ your time frame as I tend to want to park once and then walk to dinner and show, and that might not be feasible depending on what time the Symphony starts (nor particularly fun in cute shoes).
      The last time I went to the BSO i ate at Robert Oliver's Seafood, it was pretty good but it was also a year ago and I have a sense that it's gone down since then, perhaps someone who's been recently can give a better idea.
      My choice would then be Brewers Art. For me it satisfies all criteria - great food, interesting vibe, plenty of people watching, and you'd not look at all out of place in the dining room in a pretty dress. Plus you could keep it within budget and park once and walk to both dinner and the symphony.

      2 Replies
        1. re: aussiewonder

          I third B. it is a great atmosphere of and has a wide range of prices for different types of meals. They have wonderful desserts- the kind a good birthday deserves

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Ok...I'm mystified.
            Last night I checked this thread and somebody has recommended Abacrobmie and said that it could fit within our budget as long as we didn't get an expensive bottle of wine. I replied and asked for prices, since they do not list them on their menu online and I'd just assumed they were outside our range. Then today...these messages are gone. No idea why. But the question still Abacrombie not as expensive as I had assumed?

            Brewer's Art is looking like the clear winner btw. I showed the menu to my fiance and he looked happy.

            5 Replies
            1. re: wawajb

              I just wanted to chime in that if part of your criteria is romantic, I think Abacrombie is a way, way better bet than Brewer's Art. The food is good at both, but Abacrombia has a much more intimate vibe to it.

              1. re: charmedgirl

                I think Abacrombie might be out of your price range, you don't want to go for a nice dinner and subconsciously be tallying up every dollar you spend. And while it may be considered more romantic by some, I find that the vibe is so quiet and stifling that it's uncomfortable. The Brewers has a much more interesting vibe to it.

                1. re: aussiewonder

                  Wow, stifling?? Have you been since it reopened? It felt, intimate, warm, and welcoming to me. Huh. Diff'rent strokes I guess.

                  1. re: aussiewonder

                    I tend to be a loud talker by default (probably my least favorite thing about myself) places with no other noise to counterbalance me do tend to be less comfortable for me. I can be quiet if required, but this isn't a super big romantic dinner, and I think I'd sacrifice some ambiance for the freedome to laugh a bit without feeling like I'm going to get in trouble.

                    I think Brewer's Art it is. I'll keep Abacrombie i mind for some other night...maybe when somebody else is paying. :-)

                    1. re: wawajb

                      I'm not going to beat a dead horse about this because Brewer's Art is a great choice (maybe too late, huh?), but I don't think, under any circumstances, someone would feel like they were going to get "get in trouble" for laughing at Abacrombie. That's what I meant by "warm and welcoming." It's just a comfortable place with genuinely nice people. I only made the romance point (that Abacrombie, in comparison to BA, is more romantic) because in your original post you said you were looking for somewhere "relatively romantic."

                      Anyways, either one will serve good chow, so I am sure you will have a nice time no matter what. :-)

              2. Ok, I know that your birthday is long over, but I went to Abacrombie's this past Saturday and thought I'd leave a post incase anyone does a search. They are under new ownership now- a quartet(I think) of owners comprised of the owner of Cork's, and two students of the Cindy Wolf camp, Pazo and Charleston, and a fourth, whom I can't identify. Let me first say that the place is no longer overly formal or devoid of sound. Quite the contrary, Abacrombies now in classic Baltimore style uses its staff's Ipods for background music. Those with more mainstream music tastes may not like this, but for me, feasting on duck confit while listening to Neutral Milk Hotel was blissful, if not heavenly. For those with more traditional tastes, don't worry they also played the Beatles, and never at a offensive volume. It in fact, this "touch" reminds me of some of the quaint bistros you find in SoHo or Brooklyn. The decor however, is not quite as hip, its pale color scheme still rocking 50's mirrored and gold paneling. Oh well, you can't have it all.

                Back to the food...and budget. I did a 3 course Pris Fixe for $60 WITH wine pairings. (first the music, now this??) I gave my wife the app of shrimp cocktail that came with 3 sauces, which I'll do my best to recall..chili lime, cocktail and a rose water concoction I believe. The shrimp were more like "prawns" that you get in Europe, head included. I had the white anchovies instead, which were quite tasty in tomatoes, basil and capers. For dinner my wife got the fried Pompano with blue crab and browned butter. The fish was perfectly tender and flakey with a light cornmeal breading that was just enough to hold all that blue crab and brown butter in place, so that every bite delivered the perfect bite. I had the duck confit, which was cooked to classic perfection. The highlight was actually the baby carrots and pureed parsnips (who doesn't love those!) which were perfect for a chilly evening. We shared the dark chocolate banana cake and huckleberry shortcake for desert. I have to say, these were not quite as spectacular, although certainly nothing that will keep me from a second visit. I have a feeling this place will continue to get better...but please, no improvement on the music necessary!

                1 Reply
                1. re: eblood

                  Good to know. Thanks for the update eblood.

                  And for anybody who was wondering...We did go to the brewers art. I had the duck. It was fabulous. I also (once again) learned the lesson that high alcohol beers are deceptive. I ended up a bit tipsy by the time we arrived at the symphony. Fiance had lamb of some sort with lentils. He said it was ok, but the lentils were a bit bland. (my response was...honey, they're lentils. What exactly where you expecting?) He tends to enjoy really bold flavors, so his bland might be another person's delicately seasoned. I didn't taste them so I can't comment. I was enjoying my duck too much to chance his asking for a bite of my dish in return for a taste of his.

                  And as far as atmosphere goes...I enjoyed it and could def. see returning, but I rather wish they had some sort of sound absorbing barrier (curtain? door? something...) between the front lounge and the first dining room. It was a bit loud, especially when an employee who was clearly having a bad day proceeded to curse his way back to the kitchen to start his shift. No big deal if you were in the lounge having a beer or two with friends, but a bit off-putting while sitting eating dinner in otherwise classy surroundings.