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Baltimore dinner recommendation

RaeJ Dec 13, 2013 06:47 AM

Heading to the American Visionary Art Museum after Christmas. Looking for a dinner destination for a party of 12. Thought about Woodberry Kitchen but its prices might be a little steep for some in the group although the menu looks intriguing. Wondering if the Chowhound community had some recommendations, preferably not too far from the museum. Cuisine choice is flexible although the group tastes range from real adventurous to predictable. Good wine and beer list is a must. I know that this board has a lot of Baltimore recommendations, but not knowing the city, I thought some of you could steer us to an interesting place that isn't too far away.

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  1. z
    Zevonista RE: RaeJ Dec 13, 2013 08:28 AM

    Obvious choice would be Mr Rain's Fun House, which is on the top level of AVAM. Inventive menu, but some "regular" food as well. Beer and Wine list isn't too extensive. No beer on tap (at least, the last time I was there).

    Bluegrass is in that neck of the woods, about a mile away. On the other side of the Harbor, I'd recommend B&O.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Zevonista
      melpy RE: Zevonista Dec 13, 2013 08:39 AM

      We did mr Rains with a group of 10 or 11 for a birthday. Most people were very satisfied with it. Pickier eaters were able to find something too. Fun space and no need to park twice. The gentleman next to me was upset with price versus quantity for his lamb and talked about it rudely enough for all to hear.

    2. foster RE: RaeJ Dec 13, 2013 10:00 AM

      If you can afford it - Woodberry is my top rec. (I was not at all impressed with Mr Rain's.) I have not been to Bluegrass lately with their new chef so an't really give an opinion on how they're doing, but you might want to look into it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: foster
        RaeJ RE: foster Dec 13, 2013 10:22 AM

        Thanks to all for the suggestions so far. If we decide to leave the museum for dinner, it looks like Bluegrass is a cheaper option than Woodberry Kitchen. Don't know much about Baltimore geography, but is the museum near Little Italy? If so, anything there worth considering? Sorry to be so ignorant about the city but we are driving in from southern PA and most of the rest of the party lives some distance away. So we do not get to Baltimore very often.

        1. re: RaeJ
          foster RE: RaeJ Dec 13, 2013 12:29 PM

          Federal Hill is not far from Little Italy at all - but you'd still drive there. However, I do not recommend any of those places. Most Chowhounds try to steer visitors away from it.

      2. z
        Zevonista RE: RaeJ Dec 14, 2013 05:59 AM

        Agreed, can't recommend any of the Little Italy places. If you're heading over there (and yes, it's a drive from AVAM), I'd recommend Cinghale, better Italian a little south of Little Italy.

        That area also opens up a lot of other "high end" chain possibilities - Roy's, Flemings, Oceannaire. But I suspect the prices will be equivolent (or higher) than Cinghale.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Zevonista
          Hal Laurent RE: Zevonista Dec 17, 2013 06:46 PM

          Aldo's in Little Italy is one of the best restaurants in the city. Impeccable service to go with the great food. Not inexpensive, though.

          1. re: Hal Laurent
            melpy RE: Hal Laurent Dec 18, 2013 08:52 AM

            Alwayss better experience there is they "know" you. I keep wanting to give people my dad's name just so you can get the "royal" treatment.

            Veal dishes reign supreme. Veal Milanese being my favorite.
            Pastas are also excellent, while clam, broccoli rabe/sausage, wild boar ragu, lobster bolognese, risotto, gnocchi in rose sauce are our favorites.

            Spinach, beet, caprese are the best salads.

            The eggplant parm tower is to die for. Best eggplant I've ever had in a restaurant.

            1. re: Hal Laurent
              foster RE: Hal Laurent Dec 18, 2013 12:27 PM

              I finally went to Aldo's earlier this year...

              The the food was terrible. Grilled meat was over cooked & untrimmed, the beef carpaccio was an arugula salad with heavy dressing and MAYBE a few scraps of meat, the pasta tasted like spaghetti-o's.... The service was pushy, and odd.

              1. re: foster
                melpy RE: foster Dec 20, 2013 11:36 AM

                Explain pushy. I have only ever witnessed helpful and old school service.

                The only thing that has ever been pushy perhaps is bottles water when ordered, they just keep it coming. I think bottled is a rip in general so I don't order it.

          2. f
            FoiGras RE: RaeJ Dec 14, 2013 08:47 AM

            Woodberry Kitchen has been disappointing of late, so I would not recommend it.

            Agree that Little Italy is not worth venturing into. But, a short drive north of the Inner Harbor is an excellent restaurant, Sotto Sopra. Lovely atmosphere and wonderful cuisine--Italian oriented. The chef and staff are very accommodating. FoiGras

            4 Replies
            1. re: FoiGras
              crackers RE: FoiGras Dec 15, 2013 06:46 AM

              Foi, Can you describe what specifically disappointed you recently at Woodberry Kitchen, and why you would not recommend going there? Given the recent stellar critical reviews, and my own recent visit there, I would not hesitate to recommend it, save for the prices.

              The new Oiver Speck's - on the southern edge of Little Italy is worth considering. http://www.oliverspecks.com/ (more beer than wine) as is Lebanese Taverna in Harbor East http://www.lebanesetaverna.com/lebane.... (more wine than beer) Both are less than 10 minutes away by car.

              1. re: crackers
                FoiGras RE: crackers Dec 16, 2013 08:46 AM

                crackers--with regards to Woodberry Kitchen--actually my husband was quite disappointed. I believe he had some sort of chicken dish. The service wasn't quite up to par either.

                That's not to say that we won't return at some point. There are just so many newer options we want to try.

                Have you actually been to Oliver Speck's? Am anxious to hear comments. FoiGras

                1. re: FoiGras
                  crackers RE: FoiGras Dec 20, 2013 09:36 AM

                  Foi - re: Woodberry Kitchen...the only chicken dish on the menu right now is the oven roasted chicken. I wonder what was disappointing. (I haven't tried it, and I gather you weren't with your husband when he went).

                  I've been to Oliver Speck's once, for lunch, and had a good pulled pork sandwich at the bar, I would recommend it for a casual lunch to anyone in the area. It probably wouldn't be my first choice for dinner, but only because of other options close by, including my favorite - Peter's Inn. I mean, when Peter's got lobster risotto with a sea urchin butter on their weekly menu, it's hard to resist.

              2. re: FoiGras
                foster RE: FoiGras Dec 18, 2013 12:32 PM

                My opinion of Sotto Sopra is about the same as ALdo's. I went last winter & found it quite expensive and really disappointing. This is another places stuck in the 90's... in every sense of the time. The food was uninspired & not very well executed.

                Both Sotto Sopra and Aldo's are repeatedly recommended here.. I guess by the same few people. I would never go to either of those places again & urge anyone who hasn't gone yet to stay away.

              3. s
                stephanieg RE: RaeJ Dec 14, 2013 08:48 AM

                Check out the Wine Market-- it's a very fun place with a diverse menu!

                5 Replies
                1. re: stephanieg
                  FoiGras RE: stephanieg Dec 14, 2013 04:25 PM

                  stephanieg--oops--one of the ones I forgot. But totally agree--and it is very close by. Good choice.

                  The group can select wines from the "store" prior to entering the restaurant.

                  I believe that your suggestion is the most advantageous for this poster--both convenience-wise//price-wise and atmosphere. Yeah. FoiGras

                  1. re: FoiGras
                    RaeJ RE: FoiGras Dec 15, 2013 08:19 AM

                    Loved all the suggestions; thank you. We've made a reservation at Mr. Rain's Fun House. Given its proximity to the museum, it certainly seems appealing, despite an atrocious website. Interestingly, we did try a couple of other Chowhound suggestions and several places, including Woodberry Kitchen, could not accommodate 12 people for dinner at time we wanted to eat. I'll circle back and let you know how it works out.

                    1. re: RaeJ
                      melpy RE: RaeJ Dec 16, 2013 09:04 AM

                      Since the menu is seasonal and we went in June I don't have anything to recommend. I think the meat dishes has better flavor profile than the fish.
                      Make a point to check out the bathroom, very interesting. Cocktails were a high point to iIRC.

                      1. re: RaeJ
                        RaeJ RE: RaeJ Dec 30, 2013 04:25 AM

                        The Mr. Rain's Fun House recommendation from several in the CH community turned out to be perfect. Since it is part of the museum, access after our tour last night was pretty easy. The beer and wine selections were, for the most part, interesting and adequate for a party with varied tastes. The food was surprisingly decent and we sampled an array, from duck confit to chorizo burgers. Service was impeccable; attentive but not overbearing.
                        Thanks again to the CH community for coming to our rescue with a range of good suggestions. We would certainly return to Mr. Rain's if we were in the Federal Hill neighborhood again.

                        1. re: RaeJ
                          Hue RE: RaeJ Dec 31, 2013 07:52 AM

                          RaeJ...thanks so much for the follow up...it is always interesting and educational to know what resulted..and so few do this!!!

                  2. r
                    rachelcp RE: RaeJ Dec 20, 2013 06:52 AM

                    I stumbled upon the Blue Hill Tavern while stuck in Canton for work one day and had a fabulous lunch there. Assume dinner would be equally good. It should be pretty convenient to the AVAM, right across the harbor.

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