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Jul 2, 2009 08:25 AM

Good eating near Baltimore convention center

I'll be heading to Baltimore in a few weeks and was hoping for one special meal (that one where you take people who come into town that you want to impress). I'll be staying near the convention center area and would be willing to travel a bit (though won't have access to a car). Where can I go on a Friday night for some good food and a nice drink or two?

Willing to splurge, though would rather not spend too much. (As in, for spectacular food, $100+ pp is doable but would rather spend less.)

Will eat anything but is willing to compromise on less interesting food if there's a good mixologist around.

This list has some interesting stuff if anyone can suggest a rec from that, too:
But knowing the the best of philly list tends to be ... odd half the time, I wanted to double check with the local folks.

Please help? And thanks in advance.

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  1. I would say there's nothing that meets the one impressive special meal criteria within a few blocks of the BCC. That being said, within a mile there are a number of restaurants on the east side of the Inner Harbor (the Harbor East neighborhood) that would suffice. I'm a fan of both Charleston and its "sister" restaurant Cinghiale, both on the harborfront. Search this board for plenty of feedback on both. I'm pretty sure there was also a thread within the last 4 months on eats near the BCC.

    1000 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

    822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

    1. If you really wanted to be close by, Sullivan's (Mortons-esque upscale chain steakhouse) fits. Charleston and Cinghiale are more unique. I would add Woodbury Kitchen as another impressive restaurant (that has no locations elsewhere).

      1. Thanks for all the help thus far!

        I only mentioned where I was staying as a point of reference - don't actually need to stick close by if the cabs are running. :)

        I'm going to keep Charleston and Woodbury Kitchen in mind (I hate to just dismiss Cinghiale out of hand, but Italian is ... well, not that interesting to me at the moment, for lack of better description.), but I'm hoping for something a little more fun. I hate to say trendy since that's so subjective, but I guess something along the lines of how Ixia is usually described (fun atmosphere, martini bar, etc.) or like Morimoto in Philly where the food is important but the decor is too.

        I'm also dining with a good friend who is somewhat more interested in a great drink than excellent food (hence the mixologist mention).

        Anything along those lines? Or am I better off looking for a restaurant and a bar instead of an all-in-one solution?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Ali

          Unfortunately, Ixia has closed according to one of the Chowhounds.

          Charleston is very lovely and pricey, but the food is exceptional.

          For a bit more "funky," head over to Fells Point and there are several options. Meli has a unique atmosphere, good drinks and reasonably priced food. It is part of a restaurant group, which includes Kali's Court (more upscale and formal), and Mezze. Mezze has terrific sangria. They specialize in small plates. So, you can dine without breaking the bank.

          In the Fells Point area, there are lots of bars, so after dinner all of you can meander and discover your own mixologist.

          1. re: Ali

            Everything that FoiGras says is true. Charleson and Kali's Court would both serve amazing meals, and you can wander around from either of them.

            But your description seems to call out for dinner at Woodbury Kitchen. Great food, but the emphasis is on fun and not stuffy. Plus, they have the most interesting mixed drinks. Completely seasonal. Extremely imaginative. I think it would be perfect for someone who wants a great drink. I always wish I had a greater tolerance so that I could sample more.

            Make a reservation, and print out directions because you'll need to drive some local streets to go from the Convention Center to Woodbury. Not impossible. But it's not obvious, so you should have a map or directions.

            1. re: HowChowBlog

              Thanks everyone! I just made a reservation at Woodbury and am looking forward to the meal (since it's going to be the best one that weekend - can't imagine my choices within a block or two of the convention center is going to be that great).

              HowChowBlog - I'm just going to cab it to Woodbury since I don't really want to have to get a car just for that one night. Thanks for the tip, though.

              1. re: Ali

                You can actually take the light rail from the Convention Center to Woodberry. It's not quite door to door, but you don't have to walk more than a block either way.

                1. re: Ali

                  I think you and your guests are going to really love Woodberry. And a cab is definitely the way to go! Make sure you come back and report your experience!

            2. Ali--perhaps your hotel has a courtesy transport service which could take you to the Woodberry Kitchen.

              I've yet to dine there (can't wait to do so, though, as it always receives favorable reviews), but i don't believe it's more then a 15 to 20 minute drive from downtown. Therefore, it wouldn't be a stretch for the hotel courtesy vehicle to make the drive. FoiGras

              1. Reporting back on a wonderful experience at Woodberry Kitchen!

                First, we ended taking the light rail to the restaurant, and it ended being a great choice because of the ease. Thanks to JonParker for the tip.

                Drinks: great; highlight of the evening. We each had 2 cocktails (Farmer's Daughter and Gov't Mule). The Farmer's Daughter was the special drink for the night and was very refreshing (tasted of cucumber without being too subtle or overwhelming). The Gov't Mule was good with the meal - the waitress, after we mentioned hesitation about the drink being maybe too heavy, assured us it wouldn't be, and she was right since the drink was nice and gingery (kept cold thanks to the copper mug) without being very intense. I think these two drinks were the most special/different of the meal.

                Food: We met a lady while waiting at the bar who recommended a few things, and we took the suggestion to try the deviled egg with ham - good but nothing terribly special. We then had Baked Stuffed Chincoteage Clams - slightly spicy and delicious but not quite tasting completely of clams - and one of the flatbreads with swordfish, rocket, and either roasted tomatoes or red peppers - wonderful with the slightly smokey but not dry or oily swordfish and accented by the slight bitterness of the greens; best part of the meal. We also split a flounder and chips - quite good but really, it's fish and chips and I've yet had truly spectacular fish and chips.

                "Dessert" - for anyone who saw the Food Network nod, forget about having the CMP since there is no more peanuts and won't be more until September. What we ended up doing (since there was nothing that caught our eyes on the dessert menu) was splitting a bottle of red (Saint-Chinian "Canet Valette" (Grenache) 2008, France) and the cheese plate (Cherry Glen 'Monocacy Silver' with blueberry compote, thyme honey; Firefly 'Black & Blue' with vanilla-poached cherries, toasted almonds; Chapel Creamery 'Talbot Cheddar' with horseradish sabayon, red onion marmalade - that's from the menu online but what we had with the cheddar looked and tasted plenty like lightly dressed fennel, and the toasted almonds were making a cashew impression). The Monocacy Silver with blueberry was our fav, and the entire cheese plate was just a really nice end to a great meal.

                Service - can't say that service was bad because it wasn't. It was really quite good. I had a few minor complaints (person who brought our cheese didn't explain what was what, sometimes we were left waiting a tiny bit for our waitress, etc.), but it's minor, not at all detracting from the fact that everyone was very nice and mostly accessible without being at all hovering. I think I saw several faces that night and still the service was seamless, which is fairly impressive considering how absolutely crowded the restaurant was.

                Price (because it's something everyone's thinking these days even if it wasn't a consideration in our choosing this place) - WOW! For all the food and what we had to drink, we both walked out thinking we had robbed someone. It wasn't cheap or inexpensive, but it was a more than reasonable price for such a nice dinner with great service.

                Thanks for the rec everyone!!! My friend and I enjoyed our dinner immensely, and we look forward to enjoying more of your fair city (and more good food) when we're back in the area this time next year.