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altar-ego

Baltimore – Where to eat

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Food/comfortableness over view...we tend not to eat shellfish, due to allergies in the family, we like ethnic of all sorts, and as close to the Arena there as possible to ease my Type A compulsive step daughter's worry she might miss a bull. :biggrin:

Apparently my step daughter has become a buckle bunny...(did you even know there was such a thing? Weekday, she's an grey suited pin striped actuary; weekend, she's a rhinestone cowgirl!)

I will keep my eyes open for the Joy America Cafe. THANK you for such a wonderful pointer, I had no idea that place existed, and it looks like an inspirational sanctuary. I'd love to take a trip with my 14 yo daughter and her friends, and make a day of it. I am really looking forward to it, now. Ta very much.


“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”

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Ah this is a slightly different problem, to find a place walkable to the 1st Mariner Arena in time for a 7:50 PM start as I understand it.

OK Westward

#1 is Donna’s listed as a coffee shop but at lunch at least they have soups, salads (super Sicilian tuna), breads and pastas - open til 7:30 only.

#2 is a Jamaican place - the Penn St Tavern that has just changed ownership and I haven’t eaten at under its new management but the blogosphere is very enthusiastic.

Northward

#3 Maggie Moore’s which is better than my link’s review says, it ain’t haute cuisine but has good Guinness, great comfort food, etc. and really nice owner/hosts.

Southward are bars around the stadia.

Eastward, the inner harbor is a longer schlep and you can Google the places there as well as I can – they're not to my taste, except for

#4 Legal Seafood.

Please report back. Thanks.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Saturday, my 12 yo granddaughter and I tested the Grano Pasta Bar, 1030 W 36th at Hickory in Hampden, a hole in the wall, 11 seat place run by Gino Troia (name sound familiar?) that a friend, who does an enormous amount of entertaining out, recommended saying "it's very good but it just is what it is." They have 6 pastas and 7 sauces and a dish costs from $7-10 - plus they have salads, garlic bread, etc., too. I debated having a salad first but am glad I/we didn't, since the pasta portions were quite ample. She had bow ties with pesto that she judged pretty good and my Bolognese on spaghetti was very good but couldn't match Luigi Buitoni's in Paciano, but whose can? I finished with a ristretto that our chef/host made and delivered - saying "you're a bold man to order espresso in Baltimore" - it was perfetto. This is not a destination resto but for those living or shopping around the Avenue, as my friend described "it is what it is."


John Talbott

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#3 Maggie Moore’s which is better than my link’s review says, it ain’t haute cuisine but has good Guinness, great comfort food, etc. and really nice owner/hosts.

An update. The resto has changed hands but seems pretty much unchanged. We had a fete for 50 persons on the second floor today: I liked the Red Curry Mussels with a really zippy sauce and found the corned beef and cabbage adequate but the parsley cream was pretty blah. With drinks and no dessert the bill was $1680.90 or $33.62 with tip and tax.

Also, I ate at Abacrombie last night with Colette; another restaurant recently under new management. She loved her black drum (fish) with crab topping and I thought my warm spinach salad with pancetta and gruyere 1st was terrific. However, the white sardine dish didn't thrill me. All in all, this is probably still the best choice to eat around the Symphony/Opera. Our bill with wine but no dessert or coffee, with tip was $60.00.


John Talbott

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We were in Baltimore the other week and ate at Pazo. The food was very good. We ate tapas and a pizza. Tapas were not of the same quality we had at Amada in Philadelphia, but the food was very good.

As to the scene. Pazo is clearly the place for lots of hip people to be hanging out at. It is big, and loud.

We are gatting to old to worry about hip, but if the stylers and the noise don't bother you the food itseldf is really good. Nice selection of mostly Spanish wines that are mostly overpriced.

I did with trepidation order an espresso. I have found that almost every single place I order a shot in turns out to be wretched. However, the espresso shot these guys pulled was very good.


Edited by lancastermike (log)

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Went to Grano Pasta Bar in Hampden and left quite disappointed.

First of all, you start out thinking that it's a small pasta joint so you figure that they're gonna take some time and pride in the food. I mean, there are only about seven menu items or so.

The disappointing part was that everything was bland - almost as though it came from a can. Plain old DeCecco pasta. I had the bolognese and it didn't have the rich concentration of flavors I was hoping for. Instead it was thin and slightly watery. My friend had the lasagna special. Again, nothing to rave about. Left it half-eaten.

I had high hopes for Grano and was expecting more of an artisanal experience instead of just run-of-the-mill.

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Went to Grano Pasta Bar in Hampden and left quite disappointed.

First of all, you start out thinking that it's a small pasta joint so you figure that they're gonna take some time and pride in the food.  I mean, there are only about seven menu items or so.

The disappointing part was that everything was bland - almost as though it came from a can.  Plain old DeCecco pasta.  I had the bolognese and it didn't have the rich concentration of flavors I was hoping for.  Instead it was thin and slightly watery.  My friend had the lasagna special.  Again, nothing to rave about.  Left it half-eaten.

I had high hopes for Grano and was expecting more of an artisanal experience instead of just run-of-the-mill.

Obviously quite different from our experience, but since you're from Towson and surely ate at Troia's what do you make of Gino Troia's downhill course at Grano?


John Talbott

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Actually John, I've never eaten at Troia here in Towson. I've always heard it was upscale and since I work in Towson and am a rather casual guy, I'm not usually in the mood to go home, dress up and then go back to Towson.

But someday, I hope to make it there for dinner.

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We are going to be arriving by boat in Baltimore for the fourth of July and would like to try a nice restaurant near our marina (Inner Harbor East). We've eaten in Little Italy several times so we were looking for something else. I noticed that Cindy Wolf has 3 restaurants in the neighborhood of the marina and wondered in any Baltimoreans might have a preference between them, or any other nearby recommendation.

http://charlestonrestaurant.com/

http://www.cinghiale-osteria.com/

http://www.pazorestaurant.com/

Thanks in advance.

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i ate at pazo last summer and loved it. cool space, you can do small plates and the wine list was pretty good. i'd reccomend it assumed nothing has happened since last summer. (chef turnover, change of focus, etc)

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I can wholeheartedly recommend Woodberry Kitchen.

I couldn't agree with this more. A friend of mine took me there last week and I think it's been my best meal since I moved to Baltimore.

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I can wholeheartedly recommend Woodberry Kitchen.

I couldn't agree with this more. A friend of mine took me there last week and I think it's been my best meal since I moved to Baltimore.

Welcome Ochowie; while I devote most of my time to the France Forum, I check in here now and again and am delighted that we have a newcomer to both this Forum and the Society who can add much-needed info.

Please let us know what you discover as you wend your way through new places.

John


John Talbott

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I can wholeheartedly recommend Woodberry Kitchen.

I couldn't agree with this more. A friend of mine took me there last week and I think it's been my best meal since I moved to Baltimore.

Colette and I went last night after being told by a keen observer that the waits were interminable, but there was hustle in the waitstaff and kitchen plus cross-covering stations and it was an alright experience. Inside is roaring loud but outside was calm and cool. We only had the organic green salad with an interesting dressing and soft-shell crabs with a scampi sauce (that didn't work for me) and with a bottle of wine and no dessert or coffee the bill before tip was $85.86.

John Talbott

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I took my wonderful 12 yo grand-daughter to the Golden West in Hampden yesterday (where I'd had a passable meal years ago in the evening) and it was horrid. She didn't complain about her breakfast burrito but for me the guacamole which had huge inedible chunks of unripe avocado in a puree of tasteless and unspiced product, the substitution of tiny broken Doritos instead of chips and the tasteless (until smothered with hot sauce) organic sausage patties was a deal breaker. Never again.


John Talbott

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Crush opened recently in the former Taste space in Belvedere Square and was reputed to be less pricey (single digits for starters but mid-high-$20’s for mains); we tried it this weekend with mixed results. The outdoor tables were nice and allowed one to escape the noise inside generated by a lack of acoustic/sound-dampening, use of cell-phones (despite the menu’s request) and elevated voices trying to over-ride competing conversations as well as a sports bar atmosphere with TV’s showing both the Ravens and Orioles’ games. But the food was subpar. We sort of shared a portion of tuna tartare that while small was made with very good product. Then I had a platter of fried, over-battered calamari that was strangely tasteless with or without the two sauces (calamari are my American equivalent of Bocuse’s fresh, tasty sliced tomato; something every chef should be able to produce but often fails at.) Colette, meanwhile, had an equally tasteless halibut. We left $69.96 lighter before tip but after a bottle of wine.


John Talbott

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Baltimore Sun food critic Elizabeth Large published an article called “Psyching out diners:….” in which she said that: “…. I read about research published by Cornell University suggesting that customers spend more when the dollar sign is dropped from prices on the menu.” Somebody at the new Aloha Sushi restaurant on Charles Street must have been impressed because while it has prices on all the food items, every drink, including beer and wine, is priceless, so to speak, not only the dollar sign is missing, the numbers are too. (When I asked why, they said, oh no one on this block gives prices, which is simply inaccurate.)

But that’s not all that is off-putting at this new place: the food is, to put it gently, not up to par. The sashimi, whether colored like tuna, salmon or mackerel, all tasted the same; the edaname had no character or salt; the tonkatsu was thin, over-cooked and reheated (a double whammy) and tasteless; even the rice was bad. The miso soup was fine, the female server terrific, the shaved ginger had punch and Colette finished her sushi. Oh and actually, the inexpensive Corsican pinot noir, bottled in California (Echelon) was great.

Our bill $76.11 without tip.

Go back? Aloha.


John Talbott

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Good Lord, John. I think the casual reader is going to think that Baltimore's restaurant scene is absolutely atrocious judging by your most recent experiences!

Any info on whether or not Aloha Sushi is related to Aloha Tokyo on Fort Avenue? I noticed the neon "Aloha Tokyo" sign in the window on Charles Street and decided to avoid. My experience at Aloha Tokyo in Fort Avenue back in April was less than exciting.

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Good Lord, John.  I think the casual reader is going to think that Baltimore's restaurant scene is absolutely atrocious judging by your most recent experiences!
You're not the first person to come to that conclusion. Living in Paris probably does jade my palate. Having just spent 6 days eating in Romania, though, my scale is more balanced and I'll try to be kinder.
Any info on whether or not Aloha Sushi is related to Aloha Tokyo on Fort Avenue?  I noticed the neon "Aloha Tokyo" sign in the window on Charles Street and decided to avoid.  My experience at Aloha Tokyo in Fort Avenue back in April was less than exciting.

My understanding is that they are related and there may be one or more in DC too.

On a different subject; does anyone have an update on the restaurant in the American Visionary Art Museum?; the website says it's still closed for a renovation. Thanks.


John Talbott

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Going with a group of 50 to Baltimore Nov 14th, 15th, 16th, staying at the Sheraton at Inner Harbor with no means of transport (arriving by bus). Looking for some suggestions for 30'ish group of couples, 40'ish group of all guys (about 16), and group of 70 - 80'ish couples. We're in town for Notre Dame - Navy game on Saturday. We were there two years ago and Friday night we went to Phillips...won't be doing that again, Saturday night after the game we just got apps at one of the sports like places at Inner Harbor. I wouldn't mind taking a cab some please close, but I was wondering what places you might suggest. Not all of the above groups will be going to the same place. The guy group will probably seek out a pub, the older group will look for a very close seafood restaurant after which they will retire. The 30 - 40 age group will look for a place for any kind of good food and a place to hang out afterward for a few cocktail or beers. (other than the hotel bar and it's prices)

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For a great taste of local ingredients, I think Woodberry Kitchen is hard to beat. From the Sheraton or stadiums, I would jump on the light rail at take it North to the Woodberry Stop. Get off the train, cross the tracks and the restaurant is in the Clipper Mill project adjacent to the light rail stop.

Have a late dinner on Friday or Saturday night then ask them to call a cab to take you back downtown. Or you could take the light rail again. Depending on how late you actually go back, you might be riding with Woodberry's kitchen crew.

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For a great taste of local ingredients, I think Woodberry Kitchen is hard to beat.  From the Sheraton or stadiums, I would jump on the light rail at take it North to the Woodberry Stop.  Get off the train, cross the tracks and the restaurant is in the Clipper Mill project adjacent to the light rail stop.

Have a late dinner on Friday or Saturday night then ask them to call a cab to take you back downtown.  Or you could take the light rail again.  Depending on how late you actually go back, you might be riding with Woodberry's kitchen crew.

I'd agree with Ono regarding transportation and quality of food/product, but if you intend to talk, it gets pretty noisy.

The Dogwood Deli which is not a Deli, in Hampden (taxi) is not as convenient by light rail but allows conversation. And the Dogwood is committed to using local produce/etc. (printed on the back of the menu).


John Talbott

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Recently, Colette et moi were at the Wine Market for our traditional rendez-vous meal with two old friends from Manhattan, which went very well indeed, after which we dropped by Baba’s Middle Eastern, eat there/take out place on E Fort and ordered one order of hummus, one tabouli, a chicken kebab, a falafel, with their accompanying salads and pita bread plus a dessert box of the usual. The good news: the guy who runs it and his mom are the nicest folks on the planet and the pita was very nicely flavored; the bad news, not much else was remarkable.


John Talbott

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An update for you John on Troia. Still haven't eaten there and it's now likely that I won't.

They recently built a new restaurant across the street from their old one. From the outside it looks quite nice. However, a friend who works in that immediate area was walking by the restaurant the other day, a friend who was inside the restaurant chatting with the owner spots him and calls him over. As his friend is introducing him to the owner, she ignores him and walks away.

By his own estimation, my friend was dressed plain and casually and not one of the high-powered suits that populate Towson. She took a quick look at him and dismissed him outright.

Not quite the attitude of business that I'm interested in supporting.

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Distressing news, esp in light of how welcoming Gino Troia is at his relatively new Grano Pasta Bar.

A new one for me today was the 18th Fogo de Chao Churrasaria, this at 600 E Pratt St opposite the Inner Harbor. It reminds me of a restaurant we ate at in Kenya, Carnivore, where they came around with huge chucks of grilled giraffe, gnu, etc., except here it's beef, lamb and chicken, luckily cooked to any doneness one wishes. Certainly not fine dining but fun for those here for conventions, etc., who are stuck in the Inner Harbor. Salad bar was "so what," except for fine cured ham and parmesan chips; espresso OK, Brazilian dark beer, Xingu, quite good. Bill, I have no idea, it was an "Office Party."


John Talbott

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Petit Louis is just not there, nor sadly is the Brasserie Tatin.
Much as I've tried to like the Brasserie Tatin it just didn't work for me or apparently for others and is closing/closed this week (according to three of my sources) to be replaced “hopefully the first week of January as something Familia.....Dino, the new owner, was at Boccaccio’s....he....has already brought Bert the bar-tender, several wait staff, and two valet drivers...[and] is bringing the sauce chef out from retirement. There will be free valet parking. The menu will be Italian and will keep a few of the Tatin menu items.....They also will have carry-out lunches and may deliver to JHU."

John Talbott

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