Top Ten things about Baltimore's restaurant scene I'm thankful for
After our orgy of kvetching last week, the time has come for some thankfulness. Here in no particular order is my somewhat random list of things I'm thankful for about the Baltimore restaurant scene.
Of course I could just list my ten favorite restaurants, but that would be cheating. Plus I'm not sure I could limit it to ten.
Here's my list of things I'm thankful for, and please post your additions to it. ...
* That I no longer need 6,000 ways to say "mediocre." In general, the food in our restaurants is simply better than it used to be. I don't know if it's because of the competition, or the fact that Baltimoreans' palates have gotten more sophisticated, but it seems to me to be true.
* Reviewing restaurants is actually exciting again because, unlike even a decade ago, new places are opening at what seems to be an unprecedented pace. I'm amazed at how I no longer have to review the same restaurants over and over again.
* That nouvelle cuisine went away. It was interesting, but just so precious -- and overhandled food is a little creepy. I wasn't sorry to see tall food disappear either.
* Baltimore restaurants now, for the most part, serve wonderful bread. Of course, the popularity of the Atkins diet nearly killed this trend, and you sometimes have to ask for it these days. But when you get it, restaurant bread is often good baguette or a rustic artisan loaf.
* There are so many drinkable wines available by the glass -- and often better than drinkable. I remember when about all that was available was a small glass of chablis -- probably Carlo Rossi.
* The Charleston Group for putting Baltimore cuisine on the map as being more than crab cakes. There were excellent fine-dining options before the Foreman-Wolfs came on the scene, but their pr is what got us national attention.
* We have so many great ethnic restaurants. Not so long ago you had to trek to DC if you wanted to try, say, Ethiopian or Persian food.
* We have places to pick hardshell crabs. No, I'm not going to say crab cakes. I can buy excellent crab cakes at Faidley's (or Eddie's if I want to saute them myself). I don't have to go to a restaurant for them. But picking crabs -- you've got to have atmosphere.
* Being the kind of town where, as a chain restaurant owner once told me, even the national chains have to have a crab cake on the menu. The one exception to this I've found is Fogo de Chao.
(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer)