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September 2, 2008

Top 10 Quiet, Relaxing Restaurants

spicecoquiet.jpgA 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)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:10 AM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Sorry, EL. Have to disagree with Mia Carolina. The last time my girlfriend and I were there, it was a 3 ring circus. The owners kids were running around the restaurant. The seating person was putting everyone together on that long banquet seating in the back instead of giving people some privacy and spreading them out throughout the empty restuarant and then she proceded to almost knock the wine out of my girlfriends hand with her ample backside as she cozied up to the "regulars" who we were so delighted to be sharing our meal with. And they are pretty pricey too, now that I think about it. Ciao Bella is a much better choice IMHO!

I have to admit, that story is almost enough to make me take it off the list! EL

I had an amazingly relaxing dinner at Crush last night. I was outside, so every once in awhile a thumpin' stereo interrupted conversation. But drinks in the bar were amazing, and the food was so good I didn't want to leave! Our waiter actually ecouraged us to stay with a second cup of FRESH coffee with desert!

birches in fells point/canton is the most relaxing place to grab some quality food. louisiana is very relaxing, but it is a little more pricey.

Glad to see Cynthia's (in Severna Park) on the list -- a perfect pick! Great food (presented beautifully); not overly pricey and definitely quiet and relaxing without being boring.

Definitely a second for Patrick's. The wait staff there is excellent - the crowd can be a bit... sedate at times. Excellent old school Maryland cuisine and McHenry beer on tap in the bar! Bonus for the bare: lighting fixtures that came from Johnny U's old place "The Golden Arm".

Just hope you are not at Patricks when the Baltimore County Highway
Contractors are meeting there.

Just to throw a metaphorical monkey wrench into the Sandbox: I wonder how many of our younger posters actively seek out the crowded, noisier clubs and restaurants because that is how they "relax" with their friends? To them the places listed above would be BO-ring.

birches in fells point/canton is the most relaxing place to grab some quality food.

Apparently, it's relaxing if you don't want to split the check.

Where is Springs1 when you need her? And when are we going to get the ranch we asked for?

OK, I'm logging

Minority report on Patrick's: for my two meals there the food are service were indifferent at best. Mostly poor.

Geez... if you're mentioning Patrick's, why not just go for Peppermill or the Valley Inn?

I am younger (26) and Patrick's is one of those old school standby's for me and the occasion has to match. I admit, the last time I was in there was about a year ago and the waitress I had was professional and attentive. I generally prefer the bar side of the restaurant which is quiet compared to most other bars - but the Peppermill...

I used to go there with my grandfather and I have nothing but nice things to say about the food but oh my are the patrons profoundly old. How old? Like I can feel the icy grip of death on the back of my neck old.

Did someone mention monkey and restaurant?

Three years ago the crabcakes at Patrick's were the best around. Over time though the food has gone downhill. I think the ownership changed.

Who votes that LJ be renamed Monkey Girl?

"Ciao Bella in Little Italy. Unpretentious, homey and relaxing"
Umm the last and only time I was in there I was charged $18.50 for two tiny brushchetta w/ very minimal amounts of crab on them... not "unpretentious" in my book.

Look Bubble Boy, I know you're trying to antagonize me because of the MOOPS thing, but you see, it's not going to work.

Your supreme folly is that people *love* monkeys. Monkeys are funny. Why else would Letterman keep replaying that monkey-washing-cat video?

And monkeys are sweet and make friends. Check out this loving monkey:

Hey Retired, you may have a point.

It seems the younger posters have responded to this topic by talking about monkeys.

LJ - just the title of that story was hilarious - "Monkey Visits German Pizzeria, Vandalizes Toilet" - thanks for the laugh!

LJ, monkeys, especially baby monkeys, are adorable, but a pigeon! They are dirty birds who befoul statue, street, and car, and swarm in packs like piranhas. The only good pigeon is a dead pigeon. One of the nicest things I've seen was a British Ford commercial where a car gets its revenge on a pigeon. Yes, I'm from New York. Could you tell?

EL wrote: "That also let out the Brass Elephant,"

911 to Elite Elephant Lover - we need your services! Loose Elephant in Charm City!

Bourbon Girl, that would be an interesting ad campaign: "Where in the world will the Brass Elephant show up next?"

Lesley - thanks for the info on Crush. I frequently drive by on the way home from work and wonder about it. I'll have to make the time to try it soon.

Just has lunch a Spice Company.

The worst crab cake and crab soup I have every had. The waiters were rude. However, it was quiet.

Retired you have proved my point that monkeys are very sweet - loving the unloved, like jesus.

The last time I was at the Peppermill the paramedics were taking an elderly lady out on a stretcher. That place is like eating on the set of "The Golden Girls".

Does every town independently have a place called The Peppermill? It seems so. I guess they replaced the Dew Drop Inns.

monkeys are very sweet - loving the unloved, like Jesus

Why does my pool boy keep popping up on this blog?

Everyone has a word to say about every restaurant in the USA - both good & bad.I read these blog entries and feel sorry about the fact that these people can be so harsh with words when it's not their business or their money or reputation at stake. Thank you EL for taking the time to post your lists!

Foodie Fan -- you seem to have forgotten that bloggers' money is at stake when they go out to eat. Indeed, restaurants are in business for the express purpose of extracting money from the wallets of their customers. If restaurateurs can't stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.

"feel sorry about the fact that these people can be so harsh with words when it's not their business or their money or reputation at stake" Oh Really,Foodie Fan? The last time I checked we were still living in a constitutional democracy with a bill of rights.

I believe you must be a person who's business, money or reputation is at stake. Perhaps you should take the complaint(s) to heart and make changes, or remain secure and forget about it.

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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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