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Two Dinners in Baltimore??

i
Indy 67 Jun 7, 2011 07:36 AM

My husband and I will be in Baltimore for a conference that includes both a Friday and a Saturday night. We're going to ditch the scheduled banquet in favor of eating out in Baltimore restaurants. Where should we eat?

Some pertinent information:
o We will be staying at a hotel in the general vicinity of the Inner Harbor, but we're willing to drive places. Please indicate whether the restaurant has valet parking or whether we'll have to find a street spot so we can plan driving time accordingly.
o We have no price restrictions. Sounds illogical but we'll be just as happy to pay top dollar for a fabulous experience as to have a fabulous experience at a local, lower-priced gem. The only common dominator is great food with appropriate service for the destination.
o We have few cuisine restrictions. We enjoy most cuisines but definitely shy away from incendiary hot food.

Left on my own, I would make reservations at Charleston and Cinghiale, but I'd appreciate recent information . Our last visit to Charleston happened a couple of years ago, and a search brings up nothing newer than posts from 2010. Cinghiale is appealing considering the princpals involved and the fact that we love Italian food, but I don't know the reality vs the expectation.

Thanks!

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  1. h
    HollisB RE: Indy 67 Jun 7, 2011 08:17 AM

    Charleston is always a good bet, but if you want to try something different, I love these two places:

    The Helmand (Afghan food, always delicious)
    http://www.helmand.com/

    Pazo (tapas, fantastic food and a really cool space
    )http://www.pazorestaurant.com/

    Both of these are close to the Inner Harbor. Pazo has excellent valet parking and there is a public parking lot adjacent to The Helmand that I'd recommend. Good luck!

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    Pazo Restaurant
    1425 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21201

    1 Reply
    1. re: HollisB
      j
      jvanderh RE: HollisB Jun 7, 2011 12:47 PM

      I really like the Helmand too. I also like Pazo, but some people have had bad experiences. The Helmand seems to be pretty consistent. I also like Bluegrass in Federal Hill. Sorry, I can't remember whether they have valet on the weekends, but you could just hop on the circulator.

    2. h
      Hue RE: Indy 67 Jun 7, 2011 12:00 PM

      THE PRIME RIB is just a very short drive from the Inner Harbor and they have valet garage for parking.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hue
        c
        conradical RE: Hue Jun 8, 2011 11:41 AM

        here are three pretty different ideas:

        Captain Larry's is a bar and grill on the east side of Federal Hill. It has great burgers and fries and a good neighborhood vibe
        http://captainlarrys.com/default.php

        Petit Louis is a bistro and personal favorite. Some posters find the tables too crowded but coming from someone who started by recommending a bar I haven't found this to be a problem at all. The service is friendly, knowledgable - top notch.
        http://www.petitlouis.com/

        The Brewer's Art is in between these two with a seperate and lively bar up front and dark wood, braised meats, microbrew in the back. As a plus the Owl Bar in the Belvedere is across the street.
        http://www.belgianbeer.com/

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        Brewer's Art
        1106 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

        Petit Louis
        4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

        Captain Larry's
        601 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

        1. re: conradical
          e
          elgringoviejo RE: conradical Jun 11, 2011 08:27 AM

          Anyone else remember when Captain Larry's was on the other side of Fort Avenue where the Southside is now?

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          Captain Larry's
          601 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

      2. f
        fedhillhound RE: Indy 67 Jun 8, 2011 12:07 PM

        Bluegrass at Hanover and Fort avenue in South Baltimore does have valet parking. It's my new favorite restaurant. Two others stand out; The Wine Market (also in South Baltimore) and Woodberry Kitchen. Woodberry Kitchen has valet and Wine Market has adequate parking.

        Enjoy

        -----
        Woodberry Kitchen
        2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

        Wine Market
        921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

        2 Replies
        1. re: fedhillhound
          l
          lawhound RE: fedhillhound Jun 8, 2011 12:16 PM

          It's hard to go wrong at Charleston and Cinghiale. Another different suggestion would be Peters Inn in Fells Point. First-class cooking, in a sort of hearty, new American way, in a bar with a few tables. Great wine selections too.

          Petit Louis is a great bistro, but not at the level of Charleston and Cinghiale (its run by the same folks as those two). Woodberry Kitchen will be a difficult reservation to snag, so look now if interested.

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          Petit Louis
          4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

          Woodberry Kitchen
          2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

          Cinghiale
          822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

          1. re: fedhillhound
            kukubura RE: fedhillhound Jun 11, 2011 02:31 PM

            Bluegrass is a great choice. Jack's Bistro is another small, personality driven place with fabulous cookery.

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

          2. d
            dining with doc RE: Indy 67 Jun 11, 2011 11:02 AM

            charleston. Is arguably the best restaurant in Baltimore and chingale is top 10
            Alternatives include
            1. The Black Olive: great grilled whole fish and seafood dishes in a mediterranean style
            2. Tio Pepe: iconic Spanish restauant still delivers. Fantastic menu with large list of daily specials. Baltimore favorite. Great homemade sangria,pine nut rolled cake and souflees

            3. Obrycki's: iconic Maryland crab house will close after this season, if you want a Maryland style crab feast
            4: The Helmond: upscaled Afghan restaurant is delicious
            Btw, great breakfast at Miss Shirley's and hard to beat Sunday morning grazing at the Baltimore
            Outside farmers market

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            Miss Shirley's
            750 E Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

            Black Olive
            814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

            4 Replies
            1. re: dining with doc
              kukubura RE: dining with doc Jun 11, 2011 02:30 PM

              The Helmand isn't as upscale as it first appears. The place is a madhouse on busy nights and half the people will end up crammed into tiny tables in a glorified hallway. And, in my opinion, the menu is becoming fossilized. That place needs a breath of fresh air.

              1. re: kukubura
                d
                dining with doc RE: kukubura Jun 13, 2011 05:53 AM

                I think you will be hard pressed to find a more upscaled AFGHAN restaurant and there is a reason why people flock to this restaurant, the food is good. this is not your typical kabob restaurant.

                1. re: dining with doc
                  kukubura RE: dining with doc Jun 13, 2011 04:50 PM

                  I agree with you for the most part, except there are certain aspects of The Helmand that grate on my nerves no matter how fancy or not fancy it is. I don't think there's any excuse for overbooking the way they do, leaving a massive pile of people jammed into the cramped (and unstaffed) bar area waiting for an hour for a table, even with a reservation. That's happened to me on multiple occasions. Frustrating.

              2. re: dining with doc
                j
                jvanderh RE: dining with doc Jun 11, 2011 05:52 PM

                I loathe Tio Pepe, but I second the recommendation for grazing at the farmer's market.

              3. g
                Giggling Gourmand RE: Indy 67 Jun 16, 2011 01:32 PM

                Went to Cinghiale a few weeks ago. Just sat at the bar and ordered a la carte. Food was great. Bartender was great. Atmosphere was great.

                -----
                Cinghiale
                822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                1. i
                  Indy 67 RE: Indy 67 Jun 26, 2011 04:01 PM

                  Thanks to everyone for your recommendations. I hadn't realized we could walk to both Cinghiale and Charleston when I mentioned those were my two choices. So, in spite of the appealing recommendations, we kept to Plan "A." Friday night at Charleston. Saturday at Cinghiale.

                  At Charleston, we selected the five course option. The first list details my selections; the second lists details my husband's choices.
                  Tuna Tartare Shrimp and Grits
                  Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad Golden Beet Salad
                  Crab Cake Crab Cake
                  Salmon Duck w/ Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
                  Buffalo Tenderloin Buffalo Tenderloin
                  Blueberry Chess Tart Flourless Chocolate Cake

                  This was a great evening. Friendly yet professional service. Outstanding food. We enjoyed the option to have half pours and took advantage of this even though we didn't select a glass to accompany each of the courses -- six when you count the dessert course.

                  We sat near the huge opening to the kitchen and we enjoyed watching "someone" (I assumed it was Cindy Wolf, but the person I saw Friday was older than the photo on the web site.) The kitchen functioned smoothly and professionally.

                  Saturday night's meal at Cinghiale was pleasant enough but we did not feel the food reached the heights for Italian cuisine that Charleston reached in New American.

                  Here's a list of our meal:
                  Local green salad with red wine vinagrette and Crispy Calamari (Shared)
                  Me: Chitarra with crab and sea urchin sauce DH: Chitarra with Cinghiale
                  Roast chicken al Mattone (Shared)
                  Me: Pistachio gelato DH: Zabaglione Semi-freddo
                  Barbaresco wine throughout

                  The hit of the meal was the salad dressing for the salad: a great, assertive flavor that balanced the generous shavings of Parmesan cheese. The rings of calamari were wonderfully tender and yummy.

                  I was disappointed in the relatively stingy use of sea urchin. The creamy sauce was very pleasant, but I didn't get the hit of sea taste I was looking for in the dish. My husband liked his boar ragu, but we thought it lacked the boldness of versions we've eaten elsewhere, both in Tuscany and in the US.

                  The roast chicken had a nice flavor with a really nice Marsala reduction sauce, although the white meat was somewhat dry. I think the dish further suffered from our having asked the chef to divide the portion in the kitchen. The skin lost some of its crispness in the extra handling time.

                  Both desserts were exceptional.

                  We ate in the Osteria. Walking through the enotecca on our way to the front door, we were appalled by the noise. We would have hated eating under those conditions. And just to put this in perspective, we had just spent nine days at a jazz festival where we were often in front of the speakers happily listening to the likes of Mingo Fishtrap and Bonearama with no problems even though the bass was reverating against our chests.

                  At any rate, we have a nice list of places to try on future trips. Thanks!

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