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Baltimore next Friday (9/16) - Best food we can find?

Dave MP Sep 8, 2011 09:13 AM

Hi Baltimore hounds,

I am visiting next week from Boston, meeting a friend who lives in San Francisco. We're trying to decide where to eat on Friday night - we want to have a great meal together. We are not very particular about anything aside from the food (so, we could be equally happy at a hole-in-the-wall taqueria or at a white tablecloth place with $25-30 meals).....but ideally, I'd like to find a place where after our meal, we think to ourselves: "Wow, that was amazing food, and we couldn't have found anything like that in Boston or San Francisco." So basically, some sort of Baltimore flair would be great, or just a really great version of whatever we are eating.

Some ideas that have come up so far:

1) Woodberry Kitchen, Brewer's Art, Wine Market - All of these places look good, and are at the top edge of our budget probably - wouldn't want to go any more expensive than this. Will any of these fit the bill? Other similar places to this?

2) Grace Garden Chinese - Menu looks quite interesting, and we both love Chinese food. The fish noodles sound great, and unlike most things I can find in Boston (not sure about SF). Maybe we wouldn't be able to try enough things if it's just the two of us though?

3) Golden West Cafe - A friend recommended this, seems more casual but maybe still pretty good. Thoughts?

If anyone has good ideas for a 2 part plan, then that could work too....i.e. Go to place x for your meal, then head to place y for dessert or drinks....

We will be staying at BWI airport, and we will have a car. We're willing to go anywhere within a 25 minute radius of BWI airport, so this could mean we end up in the suburbs or countryside or in the city - although granted we will be leaving BWI area around 6:30 or 7:00 pm so traffic could still be an issue, depending?

Let us know if you have any ideas for our food adventure! Thanks a lot!

Dave MP

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

Golden West Cafe
1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

Grace Garden
1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

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

Wine Market
921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

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  1. JonParker RE: Dave MP Sep 8, 2011 09:48 AM

    Of your list Grace Garden wins hands down for food. The others are good, but GG is great.

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    Grace Garden
    1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

    5 Replies
    1. re: JonParker
      h
      hon RE: JonParker Sep 8, 2011 12:17 PM

      I 2nd Grace Garden, its awesome and it's also BYOB.

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      Grace Garden
      1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

      1. re: hon
        Dave MP RE: hon Sep 8, 2011 12:27 PM

        So, if there are only two of us eating at Grace Garden, what should we order? Granted, we'd probably over-order....

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        Grace Garden
        1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

        1. re: Dave MP
          h
          hon RE: Dave MP Sep 8, 2011 12:51 PM

          If it were me, I would order fish noodles, sichuan triple treasures, their seasonal vegetables and sichuan steamed pork with rice powder. I do love their sichuan fish filets too, as you can tell, I like hot food!
          http://gracegardenchinese.com/images/...

          1. re: Dave MP
            s
            Steve RE: Dave MP Sep 8, 2011 06:52 PM

            I would special order in advance the egg-white wontons in broth ( I forget how this is called, so maybe someone can help me out here), get the fish noodles, and get the fish (Whole crispy flounder) in the photo below. I do not think it has to be ordered in advance, but show them the photo so there is no confusion. Spicy tofu pockets are also super.

            If you want to go somewhere you absolutely cannot find anywhere else, then go to pick crabs at Bill's Terrace Inn. But get there early because a line forms when they open at 4pm.

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            Bill's Terrace Inn
            200 Eastern Blvd, Essex, MD 21221

             
            1. re: Steve
              kukubura RE: Steve Sep 19, 2011 07:32 AM

              The wonton soup you're talking about is the Phoenix Purse Soup and you can see its lovliness here:

              http://tastytrix.blogspot.com/2011/02...

              It's one of the dishes you need to order in advance.

      2. baltoellen RE: Dave MP Sep 8, 2011 04:01 PM

        Another rec for Grace Garden, and it's also fairly close to BWI. You'll probably be too full from your meal for dessert, but I would recommend heading to Pintago Gelato in Fells Point, where you could eat your dessert looking at the water in a quaint, but sort of touristy, area of the city. Of course, you could also just have Grace Garden's amazing donut holes, and then just bask in your food coma.....

        -----
        Grace Garden
        1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

        1 Reply
        1. re: baltoellen
          Dave MP RE: baltoellen Sep 8, 2011 07:27 PM

          Thanks for the recommendations.....and Pintago Gelato is open until midnights on Friday, so it is totally doable to get there in time. Also, I feel like I might be able to eat donuts and ice cream if necessary.

        2. f
          FoiGras RE: Dave MP Sep 8, 2011 06:15 PM

          Charleston is Baltimore's "to go to establishment" for the best of dining. It is really a wonderful dining experience, very elegant, great service, food, etc.

          I was very under impressed with Woodberry Kitchen when I dined there last September--but would defintely give it another try.

          Brewer's Art is mostly notable for the beer selections not much to be excited regarding the food. Same attitude with Wine Market--decent wines that you can buy prior to dining in the restaurant.

          Since I've never been to Grace Garden, I can't form an opinion nor recommendation or otherwise. If I recall, during my last visit to San Francisco about 1989 (I was there during the earthquake before the biggy one a month or so later)--Tommy Toy's (If memory serves me--fantastic food--I can't imagine Grace Garden even coming close--but I loved to be proved wrong). Plus French Laundry on our weekend driving excursion, Oh there is nothing better.
          Then there was Joh Ash and Masa's(if I recall fromthe memory bank.

          Anyhow, dear Poster--if any of the replies help you that is great. I just know that San Fran is a wonderful dining venue and as much as I am a Balto bread gal and love my city, there are few restaurants herein that can compare to the likes of your fair city.

          Stay with Charleston--Prime Rib--Sotto Sopra-(perha[s, as I can't recommend) Grace Garden-even Chingahle(not my favorite, but it gets great reviews)--even tryb Tio Pepe's, an old Baltimore-type restaurant with Spanish influenced cuiusine. The flounder with lump crab meat is wonderful as well as the traditonal roast suckling pig--sole with bananas--great house salad, etc.

          In any event, welcome to Baltimore. I'm sure you will dine well and let all of us locals know where you dined and your opinion(s). We always love to have an out of towner provide a new perspective on our dining scene, which enables us to reevaluate our own opinions. FoiGrad

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

          Grace Garden
          1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: FoiGras
            crosby_p RE: FoiGras Sep 9, 2011 08:11 AM

            With 3 courses at $76.00, I think Charleston would be way out of the OP's price range, and although I LOVE the Prime Rib, it tpo is much more than 25-30 per meal...
            I third GG...and picking crabs would be casual fun for out-of-towners...

          2. h
            hon RE: Dave MP Sep 9, 2011 10:47 AM

            The Seaside in Glen Burnie is behind the airport, it's ain't fancy but they have great crabs and other local seafood dishes!
            http://www.seasideseafood.com/orderez...
            recent review
            http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertain...

            1. c
              chefdilettante RE: Dave MP Sep 9, 2011 11:15 AM

              Golden West is not worth a trip from out of town. Pedestrian food served with indifferent service.

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              Golden West Cafe
              1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

              1 Reply
              1. re: chefdilettante
                guenevere51 RE: chefdilettante Sep 9, 2011 12:57 PM

                Completely agree regarding Golden West. "Indifferent" is being kind.

                Also agree that you could easily skip the food at Brewer's Art in the main dining room, though the rosemary garlic fries served in the basement bar are famous around these parts, and justifiably so. For a casual meal, the smoke burger at Alewife, a new-ish beer bar that I'm quite partial to, has gotten rave reviews. (Disclosure: I'm vegetarian, so can't speak directly to this.) The area around it is a little dicey, though, so depending on your comfort level, you may want to skip that.

              2. s
                sas RE: Dave MP Sep 11, 2011 04:01 AM

                Salt

                1. z
                  zebcook RE: Dave MP Sep 12, 2011 08:02 PM

                  Golden West = not a destination place. In Hampden, you might try The Corner instead, if you can survive their service. Plus Hampden is very Baltimore-y (to some folks).

                  If you want to do Woodberry and keep it more reasonable, see if you can get a seat at the bar. They've got a good selection of cocktails and small plates. We were just there with friends and had a really good beef tartare. They have inexpensive flatbreads (i.e. pizzas) with interesting toppings that change frequently. I think one was listed with cheeses and peaches (better than it sounds). Plus if you chat up the bartenders, they sometimes come up with unusual concoctions (got a sample of bacon bourbon they had made once).

                  You may be less impressed by Grace Garden than folks here. My experience living in Boston and NorCal was that good unique Chinese food wasn't that hard to find in either place. I've had outstanding Chinese feasts in Boston with Chowhounds (an all vegetarian banquet, a whole roast pork meal and more) . Here, our Chinese options are generally so bad Grace Garden, which is quite good, really stands out.

                  Brewer's Art does have great beer and I've had some very good meals there, and again you can get good choices on a budget. The front bar is a great place to sit and people watch.

                  Alewife has an immense beer selection and above the cut bar food. Never felt the area was particularly dicey, especially since you can usually find parking on Eutaw right in front of the place.

                  Can't speak to Wine Market since I was only there once and not overwhelmed.

                  I've had good reports on Clementine, but have only had some of their charcuterie that shows up in a few stores.

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

                  Golden West Cafe
                  1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

                  Grace Garden
                  1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                  Wine Market
                  921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: zebcook
                    j
                    jvanderh RE: zebcook Sep 13, 2011 02:34 PM

                    I'm a big fan of Wine Market. I went to Clementine on taco night. The salsas were really good, but otherwise it was pretty unimpressive. Not bad, just not anything special. Could have been that it was taco night because it was the chef's night off, though.

                  2. Dave MP RE: Dave MP Sep 16, 2011 08:14 PM

                    Just got back from an excellent dinner at Grace Garden. There were four of us, and we shared the following:

                    1) Fish noodles - These were fantastic. I loved the soft texture of the noodles, the mild fish flavor, and the pieces of ham, scallion and mushrooms. Really good, this dish alone made the trip to Odenton worthwhile.

                    2) Dan dan noodles - A pretty good version, and a very generous serving, but it was a bit lackluster. Not very spicy, but good flavor. The noodles were very thin, and not my favorite type - I prefer a thicker noodle for dan dan mian.

                    3) Crispy eggplant with sweet sauce - This was great, though on the sweet side. Pieces of eggplant were battered and fried individually - good frying technique led to a great crisp texture. Sauce was a little sweet for me, but tasty.

                    4) Chive blossoms - Simple prep, stir-fried. These were good, but I wished I had chosen a more leafy vegetable (pea pod shoots was another option).

                    5) Steamed pork with rice flour - I really like this dish, and hadn't seen anything like this in the US before. It reminded me a spare-rib dish I often ate in China. I liked the texture of the rice flour on the pork belly, and the slices of pork were tender and delicious. This was served over potatoes, but where I ate this dish in China, it would have been served with taro. I wonder if they sometimes use that instead?

                    6) Tofu pockets - we got the spicy version. I didn't love the sauce, which was like a spicy, chili-sauce-gravy, but I loved the actual pockets, which were fluffy and light.

                    7) Donut holes - I am pretty sure this is the best way to spend $4.50 in the state of Maryland. Seriously delicious, these were served very warm, and it was a huge pile of donut holes.

                    This was way more than enough food for 4 of us, and there were lots of leftovers. Total bill was $94 before tip, which was pretty fair.

                    Even for visitors from San Francisco and Boston, this was a great restaurant with some really interesting choices. Thanks everyone for the advice, we had a very enjoyable meal!

                    Dave MP

                    -----
                    Grace Garden
                    1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dave MP
                      pane RE: Dave MP Sep 17, 2011 10:12 AM

                      What a welcome to Maryland! I'd visited the Greater DC area several times before and never had Chinese food that stacked up to the dishes I liked in San Francisco. I was really impressed by the fish noodles, the texture of which was superb. I agree on the excellent texture of the tofu pockets (which were sort of like a very delicate mozzarella ball in appearance and texture) but I liked the gravy better than David. Steamed pork with rice flour was another hit, though there were a few too-tough pieces of pork mixed in there; I think David rooted out the most succulent ones, not surprisingly :)

                      I also disliked the very thin packaged noodles in the dan dan mien--I like a chewier bite to support the pork. For me, that was the only truly disappointing dish.

                      Thanks so much for your recommendations that helped steer us in the right direction!

                    2. Dave MP RE: Dave MP Sep 18, 2011 07:35 PM

                      Here's a full report of everything I ate: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/807905

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