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Nov 19, 2010 07:50 AM

Most creative kitchen in Baltimore area?

Fellow Chowhounds, I'd like your opinion on which restaurant currently has the most creative kitchen in Baltimore. Any price point, any cuisine, whether "old school" or dabbling in the most cutting edge or trendy stuff. I'm looking for the sort of place that comes up with ingredients one hasn't tried before (o9r doesn't often see on a menu), or combinations of ingredients that are not just the same old "usual suspects", or that does ingredient/cooking technique pairings that aren't just the same old thing of Ingredient A as always/typically cooked by method B.

In general, I'm looking for the sort of place where one looks at the menu, or one's empty plate after the meal, and thinks "I wish I had thought of that!" or "I wasn't sure that would work, but it sure tasted good."

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    1. I'm not sure there's one answer to that. Bluegrass Tavern does some interesting stuff -- sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. We had an excellent meal there on Wednesday, feauring a veal tenderloin with foie gras, green apple, sweetbreads and a turnip truffle puree that was amazing.

      B&O American Brassierie is also very creative --- our last meal there was outstanding, with the highlight being an oxtail and avocado risotto that was one of the best single dishes I've ever had.

      I would say THE place in town for unique flavor combinations is Joe Squared. I'm too chicken to try most of them, but they aren't things i've ever heard of either.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JonParker


        I'll definitely agree on the creative tendencies at Joe Squared. The kitchen crew there comes up with ideas for pizzas and risottos that are certainly inventive. And so far, of the ones I've tried, they've usually worked pretty well.

        Every so often, I'll be there when Joe (the owner) is there, and he'll sit down and chat. Sometimes he'll tell me about something he's thinking of trying, and the "mad scientist" gleam he gets on his face is quite infectious. Gotta love somebody who has that much fun with food. And to his credit, he seems to do some serious research in his quest for ingredient and spice combination that work, and then putting in some effort to adapt those ideas to a new pizza, or risotto, or whatever.

        His stuff isn't necessarily to everybody's taste, but I applaud his willingness to try things that might not work, or to go beyond the "safe" things that "everybody" will like.

        And you're right, there probably isn't a single answer as to which one restaurant is "the most creative". In general, I am looking to find more places to try that have the trait of going beyond the safe and familiar, in whatever manner. So often, it seems like 95% of the restaurants draw their ideas from the same limited "play list" of menu items, and I'd like to shine a light on those who are bold enough to go with their own vision.

      2. Great question. I hope lots of people respond. I'm heading to Clementine tonight and after a preview of thier menu it would seem that they have quite the creative twist on some of my yummy favorite foods. For example, I can't wait to try the escargot with dijon thyme cream sauce. Wow. Or the "little wild mushroom pot pie". Or perhaps the "Guinea Hen Pot Pie w/ Cremini Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes, Corn & Maple Bourbon Cream". I'm HUNGRY!!!!

        2 Replies
        1. re: nyawira

          Please report back. Some of the best meals I've ever eaten were at Clementine. However they can be a bit hit or miss.

          1. re: ronandaim

            Hi there, Our meal at Clementine was pretty good. As advertised, it is comfort food, so the plates were huge which is something I don't care for. I got the escargot in the Dijon Thyme mustard sauce which was really really good. It was heavy cream to be expected, but it was very flavorful and very good. My husband got the macaroni at my request so I could eat off his plate and try this famous mac and cheese. I was disappointed. I thought it was cooked well with the nice crispy outer layer, but the it was pretty flavorless. Probably good, because very caloric. I then got the porked cheeks and oysters. I was hoping they meant oysters as in mushrooms, but they didn't. I got the dish anyway because everyone else was getting something different that I could try. The pork was OUTSTANDING. YUMMY YUMMY. But I didn't eat the oysters. I didn't see the combination as appealing at all. The texture alone seemed incongruous. I tried one oyster, but I prefer them raw. The potatoes upon which the pork was resting was average. I also didn't think that was special. My husband got the duck which he was disappointed in and he thought they put WAY too much of it on his plate. One friend got the rockfish which was light and delicious and exactly as advertised. I kind of wish I would have gotten that. Our other friend got the steak which was OUTSTANDING. And I'm very particular about my steak. The service was delightful. The server was very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. But at the end, when my husband and I were discussing the meal afterwards, we kind of drew the conclusion that this probably wouldn't end up on any of our frequently visited restaurant lists....

        2. Jack's Bistro, for sure.

          Jack's Bistro
          3123 Elliott St, Baltimore, MD 21224

          2 Replies
          1. re: lawhound

            Nyawira: I recently had the Pork Cheek and Oyster dish as well and thought it was delicious, though a ton of food. I'd agree that the pork cheeks are the highlight of the dish. My assumption on the oyster pairing is that the Pork Cheek is considered the oyster of the pig. I believe that's why they paired/compared it to sea oysters.

            Anyhow, way too much food but tasty.

            1. re: mcattrone

              Thanks for clearing that up. I didn't get it at all, but didn't specifically ask either.

          2. Jack's Bistro, B&O Brasserie, Bistro Blanc, and Vino Rosina

            Jack's Bistro
            3123 Elliott St, Baltimore, MD 21224

            Bistro Blanc
            3800 Ten Oaks Road, Glenelg, MD 21737

            1 Reply