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May 3, 2008

Chef's tasting menus wanted

Someone on Serious Eats has asked for good places to try a chef's tasting menu in the Baltimore/DC area. They've already tried Charleston. I suggested Corks, Ixia and Sotto Sopra and said I would post a query here. Anybody know of any others?
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 9:24 AM | | Comments (15)


I recently recommended

The Wine Market

to a friend of mine for a surprise for her husband's birthday, and she said it was really nice, and quite affordable.

Dear Elizabeth:

I wanted to give you a direct link to Sotto Sopra's Blog for their May Chef's tasting menu

Thank you

Ms. Elizabeth, I'm not sure where this would go, so please drop it wherever you fit.

I just flew back from California, where I spent last week (and, boy, are my arms tired!). The good news is that it was warm and more-or-less sunny in the Greater L.A. area. The bad news is that I was traveling with four co-workers, several of whose idea of dinner was chile cheese dogs on the Redondo Beach Pier (I had mine with an ear of yellow corn).

We did get to a couple of acceptable dining establishments. We had lunch at Lucille's, a Smokehouse Bar-B-Que Chain mostly in California. Decor was faux southern, service was friendly, but slow, with a wide choice of barbecued meats, seafood (yes, BBQ Black Tiger Shrimp and Jambalaya), and salads and appetizers (I did not want to find out what a "Dixie Egg Roll" was). I had their Smokehouse BBQ Burger: "Half a pound of Certified Angus Beef smothered in our BBQ sauce and topped with smoked bacon, melted cheddar cheese, and spicy onion straws, on a sesame bun." It all came together quite nicely, with sweet and tangy BBQ Sauce, and shoestring fries, nicely cooked. They actually left it pink inside.

The next night we went to The Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, basically a brewpub. They had four home-brews, ranging from a "Manhattan Beach Blonde" to a Porter. I had the Austrian Pilsner, which, while not as good as Pilsner Urquell, was still bitter enough. Had a butterflied fried German Bratwurst with a Bavarian-style pretzel and German potato salad. The wurst was excellent - good flavor and well grilled, especially with the spicy mustard they served. The potato salad was not like anything I've had in Germany or in the U.S., and certainly not like what I grew up with in New York.

We did get to go to Souplantation for lunch one day. They had four pre-made salads: two types of Caesar salads, one strawberry-vinaigrette field greens salad, and a Oriental Sesame salad, with some noodles added for crunch. Of course there was the 20-foot-long salad bar, with most anything you might want to put on a salad, and the Pasta bar, with four types of pasta (I had the Penne Fra Diavolo), the soup bar, with five soups and chile (I always get the chicken noodle soup, with LOTS of chicken and wider thicker noodles than usual, almost like Udon noodles), assorted muffins, pizzas, breads, and even baked potatoes. Many desserts from soft-serve ice cream to jellos, parfaits, and brownies. As always, I ate more than I should have. We need something like that in this area.

The rest of our meals were forgettable, except for the open-face Reuben I had at the Embassy Suites in Irvine. Lots of corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, all covered by melted Swiss cheese, on a slice of marble rye bread. Apparently it was the first night of their revised menu, and the chef came out to ask how we liked what we ordered. Quite nice overall.

Coming back on the plane, I had the omelet equivalent of a Bagel-fuls(tm): an omelet wrapped around a cheese filling that looked and tasted like the herbed spreadable cheese in the plastic tubs. When you cut it on one end, it would ooze out the back. When liberally sprinkled with the Tabasco sauce I carry in little bottles, it was almost edible. Lunch was Tomato Lentil soup and a Smoked Turkey sandwich with lettuce, sliced Roma tomatoes, sliced cucumber (sliced thin the long way), and some more spreadable herb cheese, on an onion roll. Not what I might have preferred, but filling. The warm chocolate cookie for dessert was wonderfully gooey.

So, now I'm back and catching up on all that transpired in the Sandbox while I was gone. Good to be home!

Let's try the link one more time...for some reason the one I gave you for Sotto Sopra earlier isn't working. Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for posting.

1) Tersiguel's
2) Elkridge Furnace Inn
3) Antrim 1844

Welcome home, Old Fart. It;s hard to be a serious food person around people who are not. I can appreciate a chili dog with the best of them, but it sounds like great opportunities for left coast options were missed.

At least the chili dog had a west coast sunset wrapped around it.

Vin in Towson

Chef Chris used to be head chef at Kali's. Awesome tasting menu.

Tersiguel's in Ellicott City! That place is amazing. I'm always surprised and very impressed with the wide range of dishes I have whenever I eat the tasting menu there.

Two of my absolute favorites while there was scallop on a half shell, and langostini. Amazing stuff, that. And the kobe beef there has also been excellent.

Finally, they know how to end a meal making tableside crepes. I may have to return there soon; writing about this is making me hungry.

My daughter will be taking us to Tersiguel's for dinner on Mother's Day! I guess I did pass on some good food ideas (I'll have to see if she now eats any vegetables besides sliced carrots).

For tasting menus with a twist, make sure you get the blind tasting menu at Ixia. You will literally be blindfolded.

The 9-course chef's tasting menu at Tersiguel's is one the best meals I have ever had -- perhaps even surpassing Babbo and Daniel in New York. Then again, the nine courses were accompanied by nine different wines, each pared perfectly with the dish ... Meaning that by the end of the meal, I also was tipsier than I have ever been at Daniel or Babbo. Still, hands down, that meal was in the Boulard-Batali league.
Also, the tasting menu for two at Amada in Philadelphia. It could feed four.

Daniel (upper East Side, Manhattan) is by far the most beautiful restaurant I've ever dined in.

They have a lovely sounding tasting menu at Sizzling Bombay in Bel Air. You can choose meat, seafood, or vegetarian.

We ate there Monday evening with some friends and really loved the place. We didn't get any of the tasting menus since several people knew exactly what they wanted. But, we ended up sharing, anyway.

Chef Kamal made 2 visits to our table to make sure we were happy and to answer questions. Our server was attentive to just the right degree.

My favorites were an outstanding lemon cilantro soup - heavy on the cilantro with light lemon overtones and a nice blend of spices - and the goat curry. This was my first time eating goat and I was delighted with it. The sauce had accents of onion and garlic and spices with a nice zing. (The server carefully questions you about the degree of "spiciness" you want in each dish.)

And, we noted that they have entertainment, too. On two Wednesdays a month - I can't remember which ones - they have a belly dancer.

Rosebud - I've never heard of Sizzling Bombay. I've added it to my list of places to go. Thanks!

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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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