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May 12, 2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking


If you missed my review of the Brass Elephant yesterday, here's the link. It's a beautiful restaurant in an era when, now that I think about it, beauty doesn't count for as much as it used to (at least in restaurant decor). Do you think that's true? It's the high-energy restaurants that seem to be packed.

Even the Tusk Lounge upstairs was very busy the night we ate there. Of course, that's partly a function of what it costs to eat there as opposed to the main dining room. ...

The other thing that I didn't really have room to discuss in my review is that the Brass Elephant is now very expensive. I haven't been there in a while, but I don't remember feeling that way before. It seems odd to me in this economy to position yourself as an expense account and special occasion restaurant, but maybe it's like what Damon Hersh, executive chef at Kali's Court in Fells Point, said to me in an interview for a Q & A (paraphrasing here). There's always going to be a certain number of people who aren't really affected when the economy goes down the tank, and they like to be surrounded by other wealthy people. The rest of us eat at home more when money is tight.

(Algerina Perna/Sun photographer)
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:53 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Monday Morning Quarterbacking


What chef Hersh said is true. But...

There are times in our lives when we want to celebrate in a special way and not worry (as much) about the cost. I can't afford to eat at the fine restaurants all the time but do so several times a year. Last night my family was at Tersiguel's for a wonderful Mothers Day dinner. Not something we do all the time (even if my daughter was paying), but very special nonetheless.

A fine dining establishment could not survive on my patronage alone, and might not even by relying on those for whom price is no object, but in a large metroplex like this there should be enough people like me to keep the dining room busy.

Based on your review this is no where I will dining soon if ever. I am curious about the wine list. You mention that it needs upgrading. Does that mean there were wines listed that were not available or were you disappointed with the wines offered?

I didn't want to draw too much attention to myself by asking too many questions, but I got the impression that it's the old one. It seemed vaguely familiar in its layout. Also we ordered a bottle and were told it was the last one. My guess is given the dramatic changes in the menu, the wine list will be next. EL

While reading your review yesterday, I got the feeling that you really, really wanted to like everything more than you ultimately did. It wasn't a bad review specifically, but it had a tinge of "if only" disappointment about it. Did I read you correctly?

I think you were right in feeling I was ambivalent. Our meal was very good. It was also very expensive. At those prices they need to do some upgrading of service and atmosphere to keep up with the competition. But maybe I'm over-focusing on the prices. Pretty soon it may be that a restaurant is moderately priced if it keeps its entrees under $40. EL

Elizabeth, I also read your review as disappointed that the Brass Elephant wasn't a better expreience. As has been said before, at $30+ per entree, a meal should be well-nigh perfect. One would think that, with the dollar shrinking and folks not going out to eat as often (at least from what I read in this blog), high end restaurants would make an extra effort to ensure that their patrons' experience was the best possible. From what I read, the BE missed the boat.

Elizabeth, tell us more about why you thought the restaurant needed a "facial". I have not been there in a few years and was surprised to read that. The main dining room was always such a pretty room.

It still is, and that's why I didn't say a face lift. But I also think I few things would give it a fresher look. The ones that struck me immediately as I sat down were the flatware and the wine glasses, which simply didn't compare to what you'll find at other restaurants in this price range in this area.

The dining room no longer seems quite as special as it used to, although I can't put my finger on exactly why. I don't want to go on too long about this because it's still a very nice place to be, and I don't want to suggest otherwise. EL

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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