Saturday Night Dinner in Balto
Hi all! My sister is coming into town sans husband and child so I'd like to take her to a fun dinner out with friends on Saturday night. I'm trying to avoid my favorites and hit something new and exciting so I figured my trusted peers on Chowhound could help me decide. I have three requirements:
1) Must be "new" (opened January 2007 or later)
2) Not too stuffy - it's not every day she gets to go out with a group of people her age without getting phone calls from a babysitter, having to be home by a certain time, etc. so I want her to be in a fun atmosphere to let loose
3) Easy access to bars for a pre-dinner cocktail or after dinner drinks
I might be suspicious of my own suggestions since I'm not a drinker and I loose track of how long new restaurants have been around...but how about The Granite Bar, Mezze or Jack's Bistro - in that order? The reason I put Jack's last is that I think they may have to turn over tables more quickly and you probably don't want to get the feeling of being rushed when you are with your friends. There is also Cafe Gia - but I'm not sure if some might consider it stuffy because of the trendy, well heeled crowd that was there when I tried it. The food and service were very good. I'm not sure if Cafe Gia has a liquor license yet. I was surprised that all the tables were full even though they had just recently opened when we dined there - that sort of tells you that it's good.
I'd hit the Harbor East area of Baltimore, there are lots of new places or places that have opened up a new location over there. You could mix pre-drinks, dinner and dessert and hit there separate places if you wanted. While I've had some hits and misses consider: Lemongrass, Tsunami, Pazo, Lebanese Taverna, RA Sushi, Cinghiale....and there's always Mustang Alley's if (pricey) bowling is your thing. Piedegrotta bakery is around the corner for desserts.
I'd recommend Jack's Bistro depending on how many friends you have. Interesting food - good to talk about, good energy, near Canton. I also had a really good meal at Tabrizi's in Harborview, which is convenient to get to (they have parking), though you might want to take a taxi over to Fed Hill for post-dinner drinks.
But if it helps, off the top of my head, here are some of the newer places in town (not listed in any particular order):
Woodberry Kitchen (will need a reservation; great food; can go to Hampden for drinks after)
Three in Patterson Park (does a new chef count?)
Saute (brand new)
Annabel Lee (good food; good atmosphere; will be there for a while);
Juniors in Federal Hill (where Vespa used to be)
Darker than Blue in Greenmount
Night of the Cookers on Howard
Todd Connor in Fells Point (you should consider this)
Alexander's in Fells Point
My Thai, Indigma (indian), and El Patron (mexican) in Mt. Vernon (I've only been to My Thai and wasn't that impressed).
All the stuff in Inner Harbor East (Lemongrass, Tsunami, Ra Sushi - I think you can find better but they have all fun atmosphere. Ra Sushi is really loud though).
Watertable in the Renaissance (excellent food, but I'm guessing that you don't want to go downtown).