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Jan 22, 2010 06:37 PM

Birthday dinner in Baltimore. Help me decide.

I'm going to be in Baltimore for work during my birthday and will be having dinner with a friend/colleague to celebrate. These are the restaurants I'm considering: Chameleon Cafe, Woodberry Kitchen, Brewer's Art, and B&O American Brasserie. I like creatively prepared simple, seasonal foods, a cool space that's not too slick or stuffy, not to have to shout my conversation, and informed service (who doesn't want that, though). Woodberry Kitchen was my original choice, but I've since heard that the food there is inconsistent. Has anyone had that experience? Do any of these candidates seem more likely than others? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Just to complicate your choices more, I would add the Dogwood to your list. I think it lines up with all your criteria -- good seasonal dishes, an interesting space, not too noisy, definitely not stuffy. I do think the Woodberry is a solid choice but it can be noisy. I don't think a given dish is inconsistent from visit to visit, but there it seems like there are stronger and weaker choices on the menu. Brewer's Art can have very good food, but I find it noisy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: zebcook

      Haven't been there for two years but Dogwood was a bore (plain steamed green beans and carrots as a side?) and B&O Brasserie, which we went to recently, was much ado about nothing. So-so, and for those prices, so-so doesn't cut it. Woodberry is my favorite by far from your list (it's never been inconsistent on my many visits) and Chameleon comes second (quieter, more intimate).

    2. Only been there twice, but Woodberry was outstanding both times I was there. It would be a shame if they recently became inconsistent.

      Went to B&O Brasserie for the first time last week. Very good, but I wouldn't consider it as good or as creative as Woodberry.

      1. I would also pick Woodberry Kitchen from your list, but I think Salt is exactly what you're looking for.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Chowtimore

          I second Salt it is one of our favorites. Not really fan of Woodberry. Love the space but food and service is very inconsistent. We also like the B&O Enjoy!

          1. re: Chowtimore

            I couldn't agree more with Salt. I have found their food to be delicious and its definitely not stuffy. However, the noise in the main dining room can be a bit much--although no worse than Woodberry.

            As far as Woodberry goes, I know I'm in the minority, but the food has been inconsistent and in come cases had to be sent back. Also, I get a stuffy feeling from there sometimes. It's just not my place.

            I did consider Chameleon to be one of the the go-to places, but a colleague of mine went there recently and said the experience was underwhelming (out of dishes at 6:30 pm and had to send back a vegetarian dish).

            So, go to Salt!

            1. re: cpsbmore

              I think that combining good food and atmosphere, Woodberry is the best in town. People from out of town are always very impressed by Woodberry. The location and food are unique to Baltimore. The other places mentioned are all good, but I think Woodberry is the best. Woodberry, in my experience, has very good food--- sometimes great--- but, the atmosphere really sets it apart.

              1. re: baltymoron

                Food at Woodberry "unique to Baltimore"...Hardly! Much better places to show off Baltimore. Space is nice though

                1. re: sas

                  Well, I'm not really left any more decisive than I began, actually. The reviews of Woodberry Kitchen are so varied, I'm not really excited by the menu at Salt. Like the menu at Brewer's Art, but my friend says it's not really "fancy" enough. Maybe the Helmand would be a better choice? Unique? Not trying to be a trendy NY restaurant but not succeeding???

                  1. re: suprt8str

                    Of your list, I'd definitely go with Woodberry Kitchen. I thought the food was fantastic.

                    1. re: suprt8str

                      The resturant portion of Brewer's Art can be as fancy as you like, I've been in jeans to dresses. Its in an old rowhouse with wood floors, tall ceilings, and old books along the walls-neat space.

            2. We just had a "Birthday Dinner" for my wife at Chameleon and could not have been happier. The room is pleasant, -not as upscale as B&O, or Woodberry - but very nice. Tonight they had a guitarist providing low volume, very calming background music. The service was fine- timely, attentive but not pushy.
              But it's the food that stands out. While the other restaurants mentioned are all good, all promote local, seasonal food, and all pride themselves on presentation... none has ever left me saying WOW. My wife had a butternut squash that literally melted in your mouth.. I had a salmon with lentils and sorrell that presented a whole that was well beyond the sum of it's parts--- and the fish was not overcooked!! Even the salads were special.
              So let me rank it this way. For upscale urban chic atmosphere:Woodberry. For dark and quiet dining and great beer and wine: Brewers Art. But for food- memorable food that is unlike any you've had before: Chameleon Cafe. Happy Birthday!!

              Chameleon Cafe
              4341 Harford Rd, Baltimore, MD 21214

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