Top 10 Quiet, Relaxing Restaurants
A friend asked me recently to recommend some quiet, relaxing restaurants that weren't too pricey. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to come with more than a few until I tried to make a Top 10 Tuesday out of them.
The problem is that new restaurants want to be buzzworthy. To call them quiet and relaxing would be the kiss of death.
That meant I had to look for somewhat traditional restaurants, preferably with lots of fabric, soundproofing and booths, three things a terminally hip restaurant probably wouldn't have.
If you're willing to spend the money there are restaurants like Charleston that by their nature are quiet and relaxing, but they don't exactly fit the "not too pricey" part. That also let out the Brass Elephant, where the entrees were all in the $30-$40 range when I was there last. Brightons Orangerie also seemed too expensive.
Of course, you shouldn't tempt fate by going to any restaurant on a Saturday night at prime time when you're looking to feel relaxed. But if you avoid these restaurants' busiest times, I think you'll find something that fits your needs (which may be simply to be able to hear your companion talk). ...
* Ambassador in Homewood. Be warned, it's more expensive than many Indian restaurants, but the serene dining room and terrace are worth it.
* Cafe Troia in Towson will be moving across the street to new digs, but I have no reason to think the new dining room won't be just as relaxing.
* Carlyle Club (500 W. University Pkwy, 410-243-5454) in Homewood. Lebanese food in a peaceful setting.
* Ciao Bella in Little Italy. Unpretentious, homey and relaxing.
* Cynthia's offers fine dining in a Severna Park strip mall. Who'd a thunk it?
* Dogwood in Hampden is a locavore's paradise but isn't as hip (translate: noisy) as nearby Woodberry Kitchen.
* Mia Carolina in Glyndon. Traditional Italian and contemporary entrees in a fairly recently renovated dining room.
* Orchard Market & Cafe in Towson. Excellent Persian cuisine hidden away in a strip shopping mall.
* Patrick's in Cockeysville. As long as you stay away from the sports bar side, the place is comfortable in a pleasantly old-fashioned way.
* Spice Company in Homewood. Nice American food and despite the name, much on the menu isn't fiery.
(Photo of the Spice Company by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)