We made it down to Baltimore for the Pigtown Festival last weekend. It was great fun. While there was less food on offer than I’d expected, and no BBQ – the Iron Pig competition seemed to involve 3 BBQ guys with portable smokers cooking small amounts for judging only, when I thought they’d be cooking slabs of ribs for the multitudes – there were enough typical street fair eats, events (the Running Of The Pigs was more like The Sauntering Of The Porkers) and good bands to make it all a good time.
Food update: after trying crabcakes at two other venues over the weekend, and consuming two other sets of fries and one cole slaw, my iniitial impression from earlier this year,
that it’d be hard to find better renditions than those at Broadway Market, has been seriously reinforced. It wasn’t that I had bad crabcakes, fries or slaw elsewhere, but they didn’t create the kind of revelatory experience that makes you just stop and savor every bite. Vikki’s Fells Point Deli and the fries place at the north end of the north Market building still rule.
Sadly, Sunday was our only day for lunch in Fells Point, and the Market, apart from the excellent gelateria at the north end of the south building, was closed. Jimmy’s Restaurant, nearby just down Broadway, was a good stand-in, delivering a nice orange roughy sandwich and a classic open-face brisket with onion-tomato gravy. The Fells Point locals obviousy love this place, it was hopping. We went back to the gelato place afterwards, which is why I said “excellent” above; they’ve got the hazelnut, my favorite flavor, quite right.
For dinner on Saturday, we'd had our sights set at Mama’s On The Half Shell. However, my stomach had gone a bit strange as we got to O’Donnell Square on towards evening, and I knew I wasn’t going to be up for a seafood dinner. I needed some sort of mild chicken & pasta dish. That wasn’t on the menu at Mama’s, but was available right next door at Granite. They do a fine grilled chicken breast there. I had mine with penne, sauteed with roasted red peppers and spinach, in a light sauce with a touch of garlic; it was just what the doctor ordered. My SO had hers with the top-notch Granite salad, which our server said had been lauded in the Baltimore Sun that week. (I can't find that on the Web right now but there is this earlier review
Granite has an ultra-modern look with some interesting mirrors on the walls, subtle but effective lighting, big open windows looking out on the square, and a great staff that delivered excellent service. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back, though I still want to try Mama’s.
There’s a good choice of restaurants – and bars, if you’re young and like to drink and yell at a football game on TV! – in O’Donnell Square. It was nice to stroll around and see the life in the square, surrounded by all of these places that are thriving because folks who live in the area patronize them. Canton is somewhat off the beaten tourist path, I suspect, which makes its vibrancy seem that much more real. And it's an interesting water taxi ride to get there, to say the least.
Here’s to Charm City. See you again in the springtime, if not before.