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Jan 9, 2011 12:25 PM

Kali's Court - Tasting Menu dinner 1/08/11.

Good afternoon all,

Not sure what the etiquette is on the boards for posting a review of a place I visited based on recommendations, in a previous thread, but I thought it better to post as a separate thread for clarity. Original thread was Romance -Baltimore.

I had asked the Collective Wisdom for a high-end, nice place for a romantic dinner with G/F, but that would not *totally* break the bank. Kali's Court came through as my favorite recommendation, after some research.

Making a reservation was quick and easy. I called early in the week for a Saturday night reservation, and didn't feel at all rushed or patronized on the phone. When I mentioned I was coming in from out of town, they offered a complimentary shuttle from major hotels. I was offered a range of time and seating choices.

I mentioned at this point, as I had never been to the restaurant, and was treating my G/F and did not want her to obsess over prices, about the possibility of a prix fixe tasting menu. I was incredibly impressed that, while this is not a service they normally offer!!!, they were willing to draw one up and also asked me what price point I'd find acceptable.

We decided on $70 per plate, without wine. This was about what I had budgeted for this "once every six months" treat.

We arrived by cab about a half hour early (I seriously overestimated the travel time, not having been to baltimore before.) However, we were greeted warmly, our coats were taken, and we were seated immediately.

The decor in this place is fabulous. First impressions, there are candles, lanterns, gaslamps, and fire all over the pace! Seriously, this restaurant could lose power halfway through service, and I bet only the staff would notice. It is dim, but in a nice way, and they provide a flashlight for the wine list (Ha! I brought my own! protip: fine dining? flashlight). After sitting down, lots of polished wood, tin ceilings, flowers, frosted glass partitions separating what (walking around nominally searching for restroom, which BTW was clearly marked) is a fairly large dining room, but seems like an intimate bistro. Our table was on a balcony overlooking the bar. My G/F was worried that there would be too much traffic, but was not the case. Either we got an excellent table or walk-through has been thought out very very carefully.

Service was excellent. They seem to me to use section service, we obviously had a waiter, a bus, a water and bread man, and runners from the kitchen.

Our Waiter was excellent, we had water and bread immediately after seating, and he inquired about drinks. We didn't plan on a cocktail, and really, were putting the money into the food on this trip, so I didn't have an immediate answer, so he left us with the wine list (and flashlight! I couldn't bear to tell him I brought him my own), he also affirmed that the kitchen had a tasting menu prepared, and then let us alone until we decided on a wine.

And the wine list was excellent. And, sadly much more than my budget. (There are wines down to $26 a bottle and wines by the glass on the list, but I didn't want to start matching wines to courses, I came for the food) I did find a bottle I knew well, A Perrin Cotes du Rhone, and ordered one. I think wine people might really love this place, the wine list looks serious enough, and there is a somolier, prowling about. I can't comment on that as our $30 bottle of Cotes du Rhone was pretty much all we needed. My girl and I aren't wine folks, more into the food and atmosphere. However, the service was impeccable formal, Once we ordered wine, it came before our first course, with some time to appreciate it, and the service was such that neither of us touched a bottle all night wine magically appeared in our glsses. I also don't think an empty plate was left on the table for seconds, nor did my my water class ever get more than a third empty.

OK, lets get us to bass tacks, eh? FOOD.

Here's where I fall apart in this review. I at this point was paying more attention to my girl than my food.

It is a compliment, though, the tasting menu flowed into itself very seamlessly, and the service never interrupted our conversation. It all kind of blurred together into a whole, and I was very happy with the food, as was my girl.

We began with an amuse bouch of tuna, on a fried chip, little bit of lime? Nice.

One of the hits of the night was a squid salad with a very light but acidic vinaigrette, It was tart, and the squid wasn't close to rubbery, with a smoky taste to it.

Then a lobster course, in a creme sauce, with chives, and something t thicken

A salad of tomato, cucumber, onions, mango (?), again a good dressing.

Main course was a sea bass, fillet combo, both perfectly cooked, Mushroom sauce, asparagus, and potatoes, and as a heavier dish, didn't seem overly heavy.

Dessert was a nice baklava. A well done touch, as I had specified, my G/F was allergic to chocolate.

I probably came in the wrong season to fully enjoy Kali's Court, I imagine in the Spring and the Summer, with Fells Point outside, the patio here is incredible.

I will be back. Frankly, the food was outstanding, particularly the seafood, the service was spot-on, caring, but unobtrusive, and they did draw up a tasting menu for me, on less than a week's notice!

Overall, this is an expensive place, but not as expensive as many I've researched in Baltimore. Customer service is obviously a priority, decor is fantastic, and food is excellent. If you have the werewhthal to shell out for a romantic dinner, this is a place to go.

Most highly recommended, and thanks all of you on Chowhound for steering me to this restaurant.

Kali's Court
1606 Thames Street, Baltimore, MD 22231

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  1. Glad to hear about your very positive experience at Kali's Court. It is one of my favorite dining establishments in downtown Baltimore.

    You didn't choose the "WRONG SEASON" to dine at this lovely restaurant. Any time of year is perfect for your dinner.

    As you mentioned, the price point is a bit on the high end, but not as expensive as several other dining venues, i.e., Charleston, Prime Rib, Sotto Sopra, Oregon Grill, etc.

    I' m delighted to hear from an out of towner, who had a delightful dinner experience at one of Baltimore's under-rated restaurant.

    Happy New Year and Great Dining. FoiGras

    Sotto Sopra Restaurant
    405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

    Kali's Court
    1606 Thames Street, Baltimore, MD 22231

    Prime Rib
    1101 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

    3 Replies
    1. re: FoiGras

      Thanks FoiGras, and yes,it was a very positive experience all together.

      The service there was first rate. They did draw up a tasting menu for us, and I swear, other than deciding on the wine, I barely noticed a server. Food, drink, water, bread, forks, etc.. just seemed to magically appear. This could perhaps have been as I was there with such a captivating young lady, but I do give a little credit to the staff :)

      My girl's father lives in Baltimore over in Otterbein, and we were there for some job interviews, so I strongly suspect I'll be getting better acquainted with the area! Charlston, for instance is on my list as is Oregon Grill.

      As to the wrong season, well you are right, there is no wrong season for such a nice restaurant. Now that being said, I really do want to come back when it is warmer so I can sit out on that patio and walk around Fells Point a bit after dinner!

      I'll keep you all posted on our culinary adventures in Baltimore, plus my niece was just born, and I expect we'll be spending some time down in DC as well!

      Oh, and if you ever come up to Philly, please take a look at Southwark and Restaurant Alba. These are also underrated gems (though to be honest Southwark is getting a lot of press) and each is even worth the couple hour drive up, I swear!

      Cheers and happy dining.

      TBS (erehwesle)

      1. re: erehwesle

        Kip, the co-owner of Southwark, was my favorite bartender in town when he worked at the Five Spot, way back in the day. Say hello for me...

        1. re: chefdilettante

          Will do, I knew Kip from Fergie's Pub, and I agree, he is the finest bartender in Philly!

    2. Glad you liked it. We went for restaurant week, and it was just completely unimpressive (and the service was even worse than the food).

      9 Replies
      1. re: jvanderh

        It is a great space though. I wish they lived up to it.

        1. re: JonParker

          Yeah, it is a great space. I really had awesome service there, and I'm a writer and grad student, I've waited a few tables myself. We were totally coddled, but in an unobtrusive way.

          I think it might have been that I had the audacity to ask for a tasting menu. This is something I usually ask for when going somewhere I'm spending more money than usual , and when in a town I don't know. It seems to work. It usually gets you extra attention, and whatever is best. Sometimes it backfires, and you get stuff that the chef wants to get rid of, but I think it is rare, one in ten.

          I thought the food was great, as was the service. I do think my table might have been flagged, maybe they thought I was a critic? We certainly got a lot of attention.

          Anyway I had a great dinner there. I'd put them up against some of our Philly greats like Le Bec Fin, I mean, not Morimoto, but what is?

          Your Mileage May Indeed Vary :) I know for me it was a very nice night out.

          I'll be back down in a month, maybe I'll try them again without the tasting menu thing. We'll see.

          1. re: JonParker

            It really is beautiful. The courtyard is awesome! I guess it gets relegated to the "places to get a drink but not order dinner" list.

            1. re: jvanderh

              If you look at my previous comments on another thread, it's not even a place to get a drink. I ordered a martini and they shook it, which is the cardinal sin regarding martinis (James Bond aside). I was served a cloudy drink full of ice shards. Really, if you can 't make the classic drinks, what can you do?

              1. re: JonParker

                It's interesting I had such a different experience there!

                Didn't order a martini, though....

                1. re: JonParker

                  Heh you just described my martini at Salt.

                  1. re: kukubura

                    The Prime Rib makes an excellent martini.

                    1. re: JonParker

                      I don't doubt it. Considering the very best martini I've ever had was at 21 I would definitely go for old school.

                  2. re: JonParker

                    Now that you mention it, my Baileys and coffee was lukewarm and served in a wine glass. I figured it was punishment for ordering such a plebian beverage.

            2. just FYI, Mezze is right next door. Mediterranean tapas, and the same kitchen, just less expensive ;) ;) Not the same ambience as Kali's, but definitely hip in it's own right.

              1606 Thames St., Baltimore, MD 21231

              1 Reply
              1. re: carey24

                True. And the food we had there was actually pretty good!

              2. Over all a disappointing experiences, bland food. over priced wine and so so cocktails.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mickthedig

                  Sorry to hear that, but not surprised.