- BaltoPhilFood Apr 21, 2009 07:04 AM
I have a reservation here for a special dinner this Friday. The menu looks great and the cozy, homey space along with BYO option makes it sound perfect. I haven't heard too many reviews and came up with nothing on a board search. Has anyone dined here? I hope it's as good as it sounds.
It's a very cute, decorated of classic Federal-era townhouse B&B. When I dropped in one Saturday at 8 to see if they would seat us, they were having a large, boisterous wedding in the parlor and one couple was eating in the adjacent pretty DR, so ended up waiting at Helmand. Please report your findings.
We went for my birthday dinner (party of 8) this Friday. While we were there, there was another party (at least 20+ people) outdoors in a lovely courtyard area having something that might have been either a private graduation party or a rehearsal dinner.
The atmosphere is nice - it's a really cute, quaint space. Our party was in a dining room with one other table, but no one was at that table, so it was almost like having a private room except our room led out to the courtyard so there were people in and out. The menu was nice -- everything very affordable with some nice local ingredients.
I enjoyed the charcuterie appetizer -- that night, it was a country style pate with pistachios, which I found lovely. Most in our party had the bison steak - cooked perfectly to medium rare, but perhaps because of its leanness, I still found it quite chewy. The half roasted free range chicken was nice, as was the half rack of lamb.
Our issue with the whole evening was the pace of the service. I think the kitchen may have been overwhelmed. I couldn't see whether there were a lot of diners in the other dining rooms but the restaurant didn't seem full. It took nearly 20 minutes for our orders to be taken, and our *appetizers* arrived after we'd been seated close to 90 minutes. Another 45 minutes later our entrees arrived, so the entire dinner was a 3 hour affair. Our waiter seemed to have responsibility for serving several tables not located near us, so for most of the evening he could not be found. After getting his entree served, it took my BF getting up and hunting down someone on the wait staff to ask for silverware, 10 minutes after his entree had arrived (and was getting cold!) -- and this was after 45 minutes of waiting for entrees after his silverware had been collected with his appetizer plate, so there was plenty of time for someone to notice there was a missing set. It's possible that the large party outside caused the kitchen to slow to a crawl, but they all were served their entrees before we got our appetizers.
They are BYOB. I did like that the stated $5 corkage fee is per TABLE, not per bottle or per person drinking -- we fully expected to pay $5 per wineglass (I don't know if us getting charged per table was an error or not). Our group also brought our own birthday cake, and they didn't charge us a plating fee either, which was particularly nice since most places I've been do charge something, even if only $2 per plate.
So - nice atmosphere, nice food, very reasonable pricing. I hope that the poor service was due to a combination of the large party outside and the size of my own party, but the overall experience wasn't extraordinary enough to warrant going back anytime soon and risking another 3 hour dinner. They are only open 3 nights a week for dinner, and they probably do mostly breakfast/brunch service for the Inn, but they have been serving dinner since last June 08, so it's not like these were opening jitters.