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Where are the Balto chowhounds?

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FoiGras May 17, 2014 02:54 PM

There don't seem to be many postings from the Baltimore Chowhound sector. I, myself, would love to participate much more frequently, but my personal situation has prevented me from dining out very often.

Whatever happened to "Whitemarsh John?" He was so excited when P.F. Chang's opened in Whitemarsh. I miss his excitement.

Haven't hear much from our dear "Hon." She was always spot on with regards to a no-nonsense brief opinion.

Then there are various other "regulars" that I miss hearing reports on their dining excursions. Of late, I have to "dine out" vicariously through my fellow local Chowhounds.

My last dining out experience was at Gianni's Italian Bistro in Halethorpe/Arbutus area. It was "All you can eat oyster night." I actually enjoyed the experience. The oyster stuff was chock full of plum oysters--the raw oysters were adequate (I don't eat them raw, but my dining partner certainly chowed down and got his money's worth). The fried oysters were plentiful, very small, but good.

There was a buffet with salads, etc. All in all, it was a worthwhile dining experience. Now that the season for oysters is done, the restaurant offers an "all you can eat crab feast for $29.95.") Maybe someone can post their opinion with regards to this offering.

Be informed, this is a neighborhood restaurant--Italian Bistro and Seafood crabhouse--their Chicken Arancini is wonderful along with their Veal Francaise. In one dines without high expectations of "farm to table" and other trendy offerings, then it is worthwhile to check out.

It reminds me a bit of Kibby's Restaurant, with their claim to fame shrimp salad. They also have amazing sour beef and dumplings (even better then now defunct Haussner's). They also have amazing eggplant tempura. But, the restaurant is resting on its laurels decor-wise. It needs a big redo and some more current offerings food-wise. But, I suspect that they have the captive "audience" of the local hospital/medical community and no other restaurant for competition.

Hope I am not coming across as to "snarky." Just trying to stir up some "conversation." Thanks to all and Happy Preakness Day. FoiGras

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  1. h
    Hue RE: FoiGras May 18, 2014 07:44 AM

    FoiGras...also noticed the waning posts from B'more.
    Maybe one can only answer "the best near Inner Harbor and best crabcake" so many times.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hue
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      FoiGras RE: Hue May 18, 2014 03:10 PM

      Thanks HUe--I thought I was the only one to take notice. But, my original posting wasn't "original." One of the Chowhounder's (several months or so ago-) posted the same comment.

      As I explained, I unfortunately, can't dine out in the style nor times as I used to. I Google all of the local restaurants/menus and "champ at the bit" wanting to get out and about and dine then post my "two cents worth" on this website.

      Thanks, Hue, for responding. Maybe you can add some of your recent culinary excursions. FoiGras

    2. s
      stephanieg RE: FoiGras May 19, 2014 08:45 AM

      Hi FoiGras,

      I really appreciate your post. It's funny-- there have been questions I've been wanting to post in recent weeks, but since I haven't seen much activity here, I didn't. I am particularly eager to get folks' feedback on Le Garage in Hampden, so if anyone has been there, please share!!!

      As for me, I have 2 recent experiences I can report on:

      1) Indigma: I know not everyone on this board agrees, but I really love this fusion Indian place. We were there a couple Sat. nights ago, and it was another great experience. On Sat. night, they have a sittar player, which adds to the ambiance, and made it a particularly unique dinner! Since our last visit a few months back, they changed the menu so that you can also order small portions of most dishes (like tapas). I loved that option since we were able to choose so many more dishes than before. A particular highlight for me were the new "lamb croquettes"- which were delicious lamb and lentil patties with a soft, creamy texture and perfect seasonings. We also tried a new eggplant dish (the name escapes me, but it included potatoes and peppers) which was also amazing. My one complaint was that the Chicken 65, which is billed as being fiery/spicy, was not as spicy as I would have liked (my husband, though, thought it was perfect). We ended the meal with the Grand Gulab Jamun-- luscious little light "donuts" that melt in your mouth. Mmmmm.....
      2) Villagio Cafe: This is the new Persian restaurant in Stoneleigh. We started with the baba ganoush and then shared a "family platter" that included chicken, beef, and lamb koobideh (ground lamb) kebabs. I should note that before we went, I had heard many people RAVE about how incredible it was, which I think set my expectations too high. I thought it was good, but nothing to rave about. The bana ganoush was good, but not as flavorful/spicy as it could have been. The warm pita it came with, though, was a highlight-- completely perfect! As for the platter, the lamb was the best-- tender, flavorful, and cooked perfectly. The chicken was also great- tender and seasoned well. The beef, though, was lacking-- the pieces were cut too thin, were chewy, and tasted pretty plain. And the rice was fine, but didn't live up to the menu's description as "fluffy basmati." I should add that the meal was incredibly affordable. But given all the buzz about the place, I thought it would be much better than average...

      Hope to read about others' recent experiences! And thanks again FoiGras for motivating everyone to write!

      3 Replies
      1. re: stephanieg
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        FoiGras RE: stephanieg May 19, 2014 03:20 PM

        Hi stephanieg--I always enjoy your input and responses. You make Chowhound fun and informative.

        Hopefully, with your exquisite recent dining out and postings, the Balto Chowhounds will become inspired to heat up and participate. (I only wish I could--but, hopefully, in the future I'll be back on track).

        Your restaurant "reviews" were quite impressive--you could be a professional. Yeah Gal.

        I must reveal--I am not into the cuisine that you embrace--but being a Chowhound I love to hear about all of the dining experiences of any culture/cuisine. I suppose that I am not into spicy/hot foods. I will try just about anything food-wise if it doesn't have steam coming out of my ears and nose.

        To show you how I avoid the hot/spicy cuisine--Okay, I'm a Baltimore born and bred gal. Steamed Crabs--okay--I'm sure that Old Bay is like sugar to most people. Prior to eating steamed crabs, I rinse off most of the seasoning. I know--I know--people say that I must be a Baltimore import--and, get this, I don't drink beer when eating crabs--wine is my choice of drink. Oh too much information.

        I recall that you posted about an eggplant dish at the Helmand previously, which sounded delectable--and I know that you would recommend something fantastic. I have a friend who has encouraged me to dine at the Helmand and at least give the cuisine a chance--perhaps the chef could cool down the spices until I could develop a taste (or tolerance) for the "fire."

        BTW--if you go back to Ch postings--on April 24th--check out "Girls' Night Out In Hampden." "Gregb" responded with a briefing on Le Garage. It was brief, but quite positive.

        As always--I enjoy your input. FoiGras

        1. re: FoiGras
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          gregb RE: FoiGras May 20, 2014 06:07 AM

          How astute of you to remember that, Foi! I think you need to be on the payroll here. I've wondered, while searching through other very active boards (Chicago, San Fran, NYC etc.), if some of those who post most frequently are connected to Chowhound. On those boards, it would seem that there would be lack of interest from locals who are asked to answer the same touristy questions over and over again. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I love visitors to the area, but I wouldn't want to do that unless it were part of my day job! Just my CH $0.02...

          Yes, Le Garage is quite good. I think the menu is well put together, the new space is better than it was, the frites are fantastic, and the beer list is better than anything I've seen in MD. The pork chop I had was dynamite. Just another great spot in a neighborhood that's far and away better than any other in Baltimore, IMO.

          Parts & Labor in Remington is also very impressive. I'm admittedly not the biggest Spike fan, but the service and food were both better than anything I've had at WK. Very cool space as well, I want a hearth like that.

          1. re: FoiGras
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            Christina D RE: FoiGras May 22, 2014 01:57 PM

            I was the "Girls' Night Out" girl. We actually ended up at Le Garage for dinner. Since we didn't have reservations, we ended up eating at the bar. It was a fun, high energy place. As a budding mixologist, I was impressed with the care and attention that the folks behind the bar paid to the cocktails.

            My two friends are polar opposites when it comes to dining. One is a vegetarian and the other is a meat and potatoes girl (tell me that's not a nightmare when picking out restaurants). After a long day of enjoying all that Hampden's bars and restaurants had to offer, I'm sorry to say that I don't remember what my companions had. I do remember that they each found something they liked on the menu and enjoyed it very much. I had the roasted marrow bones (which I loved) and the escargot tartiflette (which I did not). All in all, it was a great experience and I plan on returning soon.

        2. m
          mgarland RE: FoiGras May 19, 2014 10:30 AM

          I've been to Villagio Cafe too and thought it was pretty good (not great). I thionk the main problem is that there just aren't many good middle eastern restaurants (except The Helmand) in Baltimore. We tried all of the kebabs, and I agree with stephanieg's assessment of them- they were very good, except for th ebeef which was tough and dry. I thought that the baba ganoush was very good as well, as was the hummus. The only thing that fell flat were the grape leaves, which contained slimy,mushy rice and and were truly horrible. They tasted like they came out of a can.

          The only other really noteworthy place we've been lately is Puerto 511- it's a new Peruvian place that's opened downtown, not too far from Lexington market. This place was just awesome. I had the best ceviche (the ceviche classico) I have ever had in my life- so fresh and flavorful, and a tamale with shrimp that was great as well. The place is tiny, so I'd highly recommend making a reservation. The owners were very charming- it's a husband and wife chef/server team.

          1. t
            tartuffe RE: FoiGras May 20, 2014 08:28 AM

            Thanks, FoiGras. I also have missed many of you (didn't Roland Parker move to Dubai?). And like you health issues have limited my dining out.

            I had a snack at Le Garage of frites (maybe the best I've ever had anywhere) and bone marrow (good, but not great). Fine bar service and parking in back!

            Went to Liberatore's for Mother's Day (chosen by others for its saving virtues of close-in parking and no steps). Surprisingly good standard red sauce stuff, esp the veal picatta. Friendly place

            Like the others, I ignore the standard queries. Do some research first

            6 Replies
            1. re: tartuffe
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              FoiGras RE: tartuffe May 20, 2014 03:20 PM

              I am excited to hear from my Favorite Chowhounds. All of you keep me apprised with the best dining establishments and your enthusiasm with regards to the "art" of cuisine.

              The frites at Le Garage sound intriquing. What do you think made them exceptional?

              Haven't been in about 6 years, but I used to really enjoy Liberatore's in Timonium. No ground breaking cuisine, but always reliable--and the restaurant offered generous portions in a lovely atmosphere. I recall one wintry night--snow was falling down--my dearly departed Hubby and I were the only diners in the restaurant. There was a dish--something "Veal Rosamelda." At the time I was attempting to cut back on meat dishes. I asked John (one of the owners) if I could substitute shrimp. He happily accommodated my request and even offered to put the dish on the menu with my name. I opted to remain annonymous. (spelling?).

              Then, another time, my Hubby and I just arrived back in Baltimore from a business/pleasure trip. Since we lived relatively close-by to Liberatore's, we decided to dine at the restaurant. Once again--SNOW. When we arrived at the restaurant there weren't any cars on the parking lot. My husband went to the entrance--opened the door and discovered that John was about ready to close the restaurant for the evening. John was so sweet--he ran out to our car and offered to personally make dinner for us. We declined his gracious offer and headed over to the Nautilus Diner--we were tired and hungry--so the diner suited our immediate needs.

              Hadn't realized that Roland Parker moved to Dubai. Wow-that must be a culinary culture shock. Correct me if I am wrong, but unless one dines at the hotels and/or American sponsored restaurants--no liquor is served along with other dietary restrictions.

              So good to hear your response. FoiGras

              1. re: FoiGras
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                gregb RE: FoiGras May 21, 2014 05:40 AM

                Really sorry to hear about your husband. You could never describe a meal without including what he ordered (although it was usually a veal chop), which says pretty much everything we need to know. I'm sure everyone here will be thinking about you!

                1. re: FoiGras
                  r
                  Roland Parker RE: FoiGras May 23, 2014 11:03 AM

                  Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your husband. I do remember your posts from back in the day and it sounded as if you had many wonderful meals with him and they will be memories to treasure.

                  We did move to Dubai seven years ago (amazing how the time has flown) but we still have family in Baltimore and return every summer faithfully, and it's still home for us. I still post on the other forums but I'm hardly up to date on the Baltimore dining scene other than a few favorites like LP Steamers. And you're correct, alcohol in Dubai is only available at specially licensed restaurants, which have to be attached to a hotel. Drinks are very expensive, a mediocre glass of wine will set you back between $10-$15. Interestingly enough (or perhaps not so when you think about it), restaurants that serve alcohol are also licensed to sell pork, so the "sin" licenses are bundled together in one package. Dubai actually does have a wonderful dining scene, given that 90% of the population is expatriate and over 140 nationalities live in this small city.

                  I do wonder what's happened to some of the other Baltimore regulars, such as Baltoellen and Kukubura. They really got out and about, both high and low, and I always looked forward to their comments.

                  1. re: Roland Parker
                    f
                    FoiGras RE: Roland Parker May 26, 2014 02:02 PM

                    Hi Roland--thanks for your condolences with regards to my husband. We certainly did have many wonderful dinners out and shared beautiful memories.

                    I can imagine that you've adjusted to Dubai--but it must have been quite an initial cultural shock. But, as you said, with all of the expatriates living there, the dining scene would accommodate Western culture cuisine.

                    I am glad that I posted as it seems to have brought back some interest from the "regular" Chowhounds. I guess the pot needed stirring. I only wish that I could provide my own dining out experiences, but I don't get out very often. Hopefully, that will change in the future. There are so many newer places that I am anxious to try. FoiGras

                    1. re: Roland Parker
                      h
                      Hal Laurent RE: Roland Parker May 28, 2014 09:30 PM

                      Baltoellen is still alive and well, just doesn't do Chowhound much anymore (neither do I, for that matter).

                      Jon Parker, sadly, died recently.

                    2. re: FoiGras
                      t
                      tartuffe RE: FoiGras May 23, 2014 11:46 AM

                      Went to Libratores over Mothers Day with my 93 yr old mom and sisters. Fine service, esp given the cripples. decent-plus red sauce food. not worth a detour, as Michelin says, but certainly Ok.

                      Great hearing from Roland Parker

                      Like mant, health limits my dining out, alas

                  2. s
                    stephanieg RE: FoiGras May 20, 2014 09:31 AM

                    Thank you all for your additional insights into La Garage. Ahh-- the simple pleasure that freshly-prepared frites can bring. I have to work in a way to get there sooner than later and rationalize adding a frite "snack" into my diet!

                    And FoiGras-- great memory as well about the eggplant. Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, and I am always searching for places that cook it well. I think you were remembering a post I wrote about a melt-in-your-mouth eggplant appetizer at the Ambassador-- it is one of the most heavenly eggplant dishes I've had!

                    It's interesting what you write about hot foods. If it's the heat that's keeping you away from Indian food, I'd urge you to give it another chance. There are many, many dishes with no heat at all. What I love about Indian dishes are the complex array of spices involved, which makes Indian dishes uniquely rich and flavorful (but not necessarily spicy). And if you like meats, well-prepared tandori dishes (basically the Indian version of grilled) are amazing.

                    By the way, thanks for your compliments about my posts. I certainly can say the same about yours-- you're always insightful, honest, and detailed! And hey-- we can be food writers together-- I'll cover the ethnic scene and you can do the rest. Wouldn't that be a dream :)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: stephanieg
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                      FoiGras RE: stephanieg May 20, 2014 03:38 PM

                      stephanieg--Oh yes--the eggplant app at the Ambassador--sounds amazing. Like you, eggplant is absolutely one of my favorite vegetables. I love it grilled, tempura-style--I roast it in the oven-sliced-drizzled with olive oil and lemon zest and some tarragon--I leave the skin on. Emeril Legasse (spelling) has a recipe for "eggplant fries." Oh stepanie--they are amazing. Dip eggplant (cut into the size of french fries) into flour/then egg wash and then breadcrumbs (it's been a while since I made them--so please check out the original recipe)--then the aioli (spelling again) dip. I recall having these "fries" many years ago at one of the restaurants in New Orleans--a famous one (probably a touristy one--can't remember at this moment). I could have spent an entire evening just eating those morsels. I found them even better then "real" french fries--duck fat or otherwise.

                      Okay--you've convinced me to broaden my horizons and try some of the Indian dishes. Anything grilled and mildly flavored sets well with me. Besides, I know you wouldn't steer me wrong.

                      Oh I LOVE WHAT YOU SUGGESTED--food writers together. I only wish--I trust that you are much more adept at writing reviews, so I could just be your "typist." lol--But.....I would enjoy the dining out experience--but not the pounds that would settle onto my body. EXERCISE-EXERCISE--PHEW.

                      Well, off I go to the kitchen and graze for the evening. I love to roast carrots/red bell peppers/onions/celery/potatoes--and, I am going to prepare the "lowly" chicken livers--haven't yet decided the best way to "cook" them as yet. FoiGras

                      1. re: FoiGras
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                        stephanieg RE: FoiGras May 21, 2014 10:51 AM

                        We should embark on the challenge of trying eggplant throughout Baltimore-- mmmm--- what a glorious "mission" to take on for the crew! One reason I love eating eggplant out is that I feel that I can never make it as well as seasoned chefs. Same with fries. By the way, the recipe you described sounds like the one I used to turn my kids onto eggplant. I also add parm cheese in with the bread crumbs and then bake them at a very high temp. Delicious!

                        1. re: stephanieg
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                          FoiGras RE: stephanieg May 26, 2014 01:52 PM

                          Wouldn't it be fun tasting various preparations of eggplant. Actually, it doesn't seem to be a popular at many restaurants, unless it's the standard eggplant parmigiana.

                          Kibby's Restaurant has tempura eggplant "fries." I could eat them until I explode.

                          One time I dined at the Olive Grove and asked if the eggplant parmigiana could be prepared without the typical red sauce. There happened to be another veal dish on the menu with a different sauce. The chef was accommodating and made my veal and eggplant dish with the alternate sauce--wish I could remember, but it was a nice change and the sauce didn't overwhelm the breaded eggplant. FoiGras

                    2. m
                      maddogg280 RE: FoiGras May 23, 2014 01:29 PM

                      Greetings FoiGras- It has been a while!
                      I've seen other boards on CH where people are talking about massive changes in corporate management of the site and the operational changes resulting in fewer, less frequent posts. It is sad, we used to have such a dialog!
                      We've been to Herb & Soul recently and enjoyed everything- live music included. It's BYOB, which makes it even more attractive for us. The amazing chef made beignets for me to take home for breakfast the next day. I highly recommend Herb & Soul.
                      We have reservations for Le Garage tomorrow night, I'm so glad to read these positive reviews!
                      Best wishes to all! Bon Appetit!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: maddogg280
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                        FoiGras RE: maddogg280 May 26, 2014 01:55 PM

                        Hi Maddogg280- a nice surprise to hear from you along with your info regarding Herb & Soul. Gosh--the restaurant isn't even on my radar. I'll have to check it out.

                        Hope you enjoy Le Garage. We will all be looking forward to hearing about your experience. FoiGras

                      2. w
                        Warthog RE: FoiGras May 25, 2014 06:01 PM

                        For me, it's been a combination of things.

                        First, I got fed up with some of the "insider" stuff - whether jokes, sniping or whatever. If I want blog personalities, I'll read blogs.

                        Second, the recurring questions - crabcakes, Inner Harbor, Little Italy, special occasion, repeat as necessary. Then repeat the same replies and debates.

                        Third, I've greatly altered my dining out patterns due to the annoyance factor of traffic and parking on the way to many of the places I enjoy in Baltimore. It just got to the point where as much as I love some places, the hassle of getting there got to be too much. YMMV.

                        Lastly, about the time I cut back on visiting ChowHound, there was so little happening in the Baltimore area dining scene due to the economy over the last several years that I wasn't getting much in the way of new tips - just rehashes of the old ones.

                        When anything ceases to be informative or fun, it's time to rethink the time spent. For me, it reached a point where I just went in a different direction.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Warthog
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                          FoiGras RE: Warthog May 26, 2014 05:14 PM

                          So Warthog--where is the "different direction?" I can easily appreciate your opinion as to the downside of the Baltimore dining scene--whether economically based or otherwise. And, yes, the same ole-same ole.

                          But, there are so many new restaurants that have opened within the past few years. They invite diners with their opinions. Something that makes the Chowhound forum worthwhile.

                          I can't comment on your opinion with regards to "insider stuff." That is shameful and I am not aware of the issue.

                          You are so on spot with regards to attempting to visit downtown Baltimore restaurants, but the hassle of driving and parking can really put the cabosh (spelling?) on an evening out--especially in Federal Hill--where there are several places I would love to try but am not going to deal with the lack of parking.

                          But, on another note, I hope we "older" "long time" Chowhounds will keep on posting. Until the next generation provides a different perspective. FoiGras

                          1. re: FoiGras
                            w
                            Warthog RE: FoiGras May 28, 2014 02:18 PM

                            RE: Different direction When I first started posting on Chowhound, I'd drive all over the place to try a new restaurant, or to try a recommended dish at a place I'd been to before. I just don't have the energy or enthusiasm anymore. I find myself going to far fewer places, and I'm much more likely to choose based on what's convenient than what would be the tastiest.

                            In short, I've moved more toward the "eat to live" side of the spectrum, and (sadly) further away from the "live to eat" end. Maybe I'm just getting older and grumpier.

                            1. re: Warthog
                              f
                              FoiGras RE: Warthog May 28, 2014 04:11 PM

                              Can appreciate your decision to "eat to live" attitude. If I may ask, what has diminished your enthusiasm" age-economics, etc. Hope I am not being to invasive.

                              Like you, I am not as inspired to dining out as once years ago--but,I lost my beloved husband, which took the wind out of my dining our sails. But, life goes on and I want to re-embrace dining out--only issue is based on the financial side.

                              All of our local Chowhounds responded to this post and I am so happy to hear from everyone--almost like "family."
                              I would love to post frequently but am not able to do so as I don't have the opportunity to dine out as when my Beloved Husband was living.

                              All of you delightful Chowhound posters keep me abreast of all that is current--or later--within the dining scene. During this time of grief for me, all of you keep me interested in your postings and the remembrance of what joy it is to "chow" out and post opinions. FoiGras

                              1. re: FoiGras
                                b
                                baltimorejim RE: FoiGras May 29, 2014 07:29 PM

                                Sorry to hear of your loss. I must say that your thread seems to have jump started local interest. I notice that five of the last 9 posts are related to Baltimore restaurants.

                                I think one of the spinoffs of chowhound might be more interest in home cooking, farmer's markets... and the realization that in a matter of minutes we can have good fresh food at home.

                                I am among those that believe for example that the best crabcake is your crabcake made in your own home.

                                I still venture out and have my favorite places that are part of my routine (Mekong Delta, Grace's Garden, Zorba's, Tio Pepe's, Prime Rib bar on Friday night when Brad Collins et al are playing, Samos, Mathew's, The Dizz... did I miss a few?)

                                I treasure the experiences that fellow chowhounders impart here. Thanks for the encouraging words.

                                I have recently enjoyed the Monday specials at Corner BYOB (first more than the second). Loved the new Belgian Beer place in the old Red Man's Hall (160 Beers) When the Arthouse Pizza place said they were slammed on a recent Saturday night was able to get a pretty good substitute by walking over to nearby Bella Roma to carry in to the Belgian beer joint. I asked the owner if he got his art nouveau style back bar from Belgium. He said "no, he made it himself".

                                By the way- perhaps Warthog knows- how many pizza places can survive in a few block radius?

                        2. b
                          bmorecupcake RE: FoiGras May 27, 2014 06:27 PM

                          Interesting reading about eggplant fries, will come back to that later...

                          In general, we don't dine out as much because as we get older, there's less time to do so and the lack of consistency is disheartening. In a large part due to Chowhound, I have far less tolerance for mediocre meals and I'm probably a better cook now.

                          For example, recently we visited Birroteca for a quick lunch. I had been there twice before on busy nights and the food was very good, I didn't even have to think about it. This last time, the restaurant was mostly empty when we arrived. Our eggplant fries came out perfectly executed technique-wise, not greasy with an excellent crispy coating. However, there was almost no salt, and the eggplant had no flavor. I'm fine with "bland" food, as long as the ingredients are seasonal and naturally full-flavored. Otherwise, some seasoning could coax flavor out of the eggplant. The red pepper mayonnaise that accompanied the fries couldn't save it. Our pizzas felt rushed. The dough for our pizzas weren't rolled out evenly. This affected the texture and cook of the pizzas a little. The tomato-mozz-basil was fine, but again I think it would have benefited from some salt. Not as good as my previous two trips. The four cheese-walnut-honey-sage had so much potential, but they needed to be more generous with the walnuts and honey to balance all the cheese. Also, sage is too thick to slightly wilt from residual heat like basil does, so I would have preferred the sage was cooked a little. Our server did bring us more honey which mostly "fixed" it. These were all easily correctable issues, though, in my opinion.

                          This is nitpicky and our meal at Birroteca was still better than most places. But for me, $50 and the time we invested was a bit much for our eggplant fries and pizza experience.

                          We have this problem frequently, everyone's focused and consistent at first, but as time passes cracks start to show, usually because they are trying to do too much. Maybe our experience at Birroteca was a singular event, maybe not. We've spent far too much time and money chasing good experiences, though. And it's really sad for me to post a glowing report here on Chowhound and then wonder how many people I've "misled" after a place starts to go downhill. Now we have resorted to just jumping from one new place to the next, and are heavily investing in improving our home cooking. Of course we have consistent old favorites at various places from having lived so long in Baltimore. New favorites are, sadly, really hard to come by.

                          Is this is specific to Baltimore? A general trend? Or am I just getting old?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: bmorecupcake
                            curioussheridan RE: bmorecupcake May 27, 2014 07:07 PM

                            This is a good discussion, with many local restaurants discussed. Thanks, Foie gras. But the shame is that if these replies had been individula posts, many more Baltimmoreans would have read them and potentially added to the Crabtown conversation.
                            Don't be scared of posting, folks! just write what you ate, what you experienced, why you liked or hated the vibe, and we'll all chime in, until this becomes the Baltimore and Washington board!

                            1. re: bmorecupcake
                              s
                              stephanieg RE: bmorecupcake May 28, 2014 05:33 AM

                              The trend you describe is interesting, and one other posters gripe about as well. My experience with restaurants has been more roller coaster like-- a great meal, followed by a so-so one, and then after hearing raves of others, trying it again and experiencing a fabulous meal, only to be disappointed once again further down the line... By the way, your critique of Birroteca resonates with my experience there. We ordered a pizza with eggplant, which was absolutely tasteless and in desperate need of seasoning!

                              1. re: stephanieg
                                g
                                gregb RE: stephanieg May 28, 2014 05:41 AM

                                I agree on Birroteca. Had a couple standout meals in the beginning, but then came a new chef and an additional restaurant. They still have an awesome beer list and one of the best appetizers I've ever had (although it was best the first time I was there).

                                1. re: gregb
                                  t
                                  tartuffe RE: gregb May 29, 2014 10:33 AM

                                  I went to their place in Mt W to get a Beef on Wreck sandwich. It was blah--it might be famous in Buffalo, but if this is an exemplar, don't bother

                            2. guenevere51 RE: FoiGras Jun 1, 2014 02:10 PM

                              I'm not a regular but an infrequent poster, semi-frequent lurker. I don't eat out a ton for a few reasons, a key one being that mentioned by Warthog, too difficult to get to places that are of interest. Living in Catonsville, getting to areas like Hampden and Clipper Mill means either going all the way up the beltway to 83 or driving east on 40 and stopping at a thousand traffic lights.

                              Apart from driving/parking woes, I'm vegetarian and Baltimore as a rule just doesn't like vegetarians. Many places that sound promising have either nothing I can eat besides salad, or some lame afterthought entree with no protein. I was talking with the owner of one of my formerly favorite places that had started removing veggie items from its menu, and he shrugged and said that they really weren't geared toward vegetarians. That attitude kills me, but I perceive it as the dominating sentiment. It makes me want to wait to eat out until I'll be traveling to a more veg-friendly city.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: guenevere51
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                                FoiGras RE: guenevere51 Jun 1, 2014 04:47 PM

                                It saddens me that you don;t dine out very often-not based on economics nor driving/parking--but those are definitely issues. What disturbs me is that the restaurants don't cater to vegetarians.

                                I , myself, am not a full blown vegetarian, but most of my diet consists of vegetables--some protein, I love soy products- etc. Any restaurant that I've previously dined within offered plenty of vegetables, rice, potatoes, etc. salads=etc. Stay within Baltimore- you should not have to move away on account of your dietary preferances.

                                I am saddened to hear that there aren't any restaurants to host your dietary request. Stay strong and the local Chowhounds will come through for you. FoiGras

                                1. re: guenevere51
                                  curioussheridan RE: guenevere51 Jun 1, 2014 05:22 PM

                                  Have you tried Golden West? A fair amount of good veg meals

                                  1. re: guenevere51
                                    guenevere51 RE: guenevere51 Jun 2, 2014 03:38 PM

                                    Thanks for the encouraging words, FoiGras. I suppose it isn't that there are no restaurants that interest me, but perhaps I'm just too picky... for the most part, I don't want deep fried food or heavy cream sauces, which takes many veg options off the table. Also don't want pasta from a restaurant that doesn't specialize in Italian cuisine, and pasta is just about always the default veg option. And lastly, I want some kind of protein, be it beans, tofu, seitan, something. Apparently that's a tough thing to come by. I used to love Lebanese Taverna, but on the last few visits both the food and service were disappointing.

                                    curioussheridan - I did try Golden West and loathed it, sadly, because I had heard that it was great for vegetarians. Possibly the worst service I've ever had and the food was nowhere near good enough to make up for it.

                                    1. re: guenevere51
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                                      bmorecupcake RE: guenevere51 Jun 2, 2014 03:44 PM

                                      Have you tried a place like Verde?

                                      1. re: bmorecupcake
                                        guenevere51 RE: bmorecupcake Jun 2, 2014 03:50 PM

                                        No, Canton's one of those areas I don't frequent because of travel/parking headaches, but Verde looks to be along the same lines of Hersh's, which I do absolutely love.

                                        1. re: guenevere51
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                                          bmorecupcake RE: guenevere51 Jun 2, 2014 04:08 PM

                                          I drive from Catonsville to Fells Point many times a week and it's not *that* bad. At low traffic times, Verde will only take me 5 minutes more than Hersh's. I think of Verde as more in Fells Point than Canton. Verde and Hersh's have a bit different crusts I think, but I'm not expert enough to exactly describe how.

                                          If you live in "fake" Catonsville (closer to Security), you can take the inroads via Security Blvd and Windsor Mill Rd in a more direct route to Hampden. Again, I would only recommend this during off-peak hours.

                                    2. re: guenevere51
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                                      stephanieg RE: guenevere51 Jun 2, 2014 04:45 PM

                                      Have you tried Mezze and Indigma? They both have numerous, absolutely delicious vegetarian options.

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