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February 19, 2010

Clearing off my virtual desk for the last time


Wow. I can't believe I'll be going into work for the last time today. Unlike most people, I love going into work. I just don't want to, you know, have to work when I get there. ...

Working in a newspaper office is like being in no other work environment in the world. I don't understand why they won't pay me to go in to suggest story ideas and schmooze with the other reporters and editors, who are all 30 years younger than me and still my friends. Who will explain to them obscure food references, who Paul Pierce is, and why Kalinda on the Good Wife is going to be the Next Big Thing?

Well, as Gailor says, I'm the world's oldest teenager.

They're having a potluck lunch for me today as a sendoff, with the piece de resistance, I hear, being fried chicken from KFC. 

My dear editor, Sarah KK, gave me a gift bag yesterday with more gourmet milk chocolate bars in it (she's also a milk chocolate fan) than any human being should have access to. I mention her specifically because after today if you have food/restaurant tips while guest writers are still handling my chores, please e-mail them to her at

I'm almost down to the last of the e-mails in my inbox, so I'm going to throw these few out this morning for you to deal with, and hope I don't have anymore when I get in: 

This one from Cynthia stumped me. Maybe the Peppermill in Lutherville?

I'd like to take my mother out for her 80th birthday to a place where they still sing Happy Birthday, etc. -- can you make any recommendations?

Meredith has this request that I feel like I've posted before, but I can't find it. Maybe they all sound alike at this point:

Considering your restaurant expertise, I was hoping that you could help me find the right place for my wedding reception.  We want something outside with a pretty garden or patio - view optional.  We are only going to have 25 people and would want to have one long table.  Any suggestions?
The only place I can think of right now is on the patio at the Wine Market, but I would love more flora and fauna.

This is a tough one from Jamie:

I'm a ex-pat from Baltimore and a fellow foodie and would love to get the recipe for Western Fries. I grew up loving the ones that were at Eddie's at Cross Keys and was so sad to see that the one on Roland doesn't serve them anymore. Would you have an idea on how to get the recipe?

Felicity had a good suggestion for a blog topic that I never got around to writing:

Sometime perhaps you could write an article on the subject of restaurant china - I was so infuriated by the pretentious soup plates and  saucers at [Chez Maison] that the (reasonably good) meal was less enjoyable than it should have been...

Finally, it looks as if that Valentine's Day sex-in-the-bathroom promotion at the Toronto restaurant was a hoax.

(When I typed my name into the Sun's photo archives just now to find art, a bunch of old reviews that had been scanned in to go with my 30th anniversary story popped up. The one above was from 1977, when the Ambassador was an apartment house dining room something like the Peppermill is today.)
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 7:24 AM | | Comments (32)


For Meredith, it depends of course on where the wedding is (downtown, Columbia, White Marsh?), but she should consider the Milton Inn in Sparks.

Somehow, I think you can get away with not doing any work today! What are they going to do, fire you? Party, visit everyone, have a good time! Just try not to gloat too much, okay?

We'll miss you! Enjoy retirement. Try to stay away from the keyboard for awhile...but I suspect we'll see you around here now and then!

Oh, yes. I'm a computer junkie now. EL

I just want to publicly thank you for your service to the restaurant industry in Baltimore. Your steadfast watchfulness under your tenure as food critic, has helped to propel the quality of restaurants and restauranteurs to the level it is today. Baltimore is a different "food" town now than when I got here 10 years ago. Thanks in part to your hard work at keeping the coals to our collective feet. I know that I am a better chef because of your reviews (good and not-so-good). Thank you for all your hard work and contributions. I do hope that you will be able to go out and eat a lovely dinner and not worry about the next weekends byline. Thank you.
Chef Damon Hersh

The clipping of the Ambassador review was missing some text, but it did mention the total bill -- $16.33 for dinner for two (including wine and dessert). This brings to mind the scene from A Night at the Opera in which Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho Marx), dining with a shapely blonde, was presented with the check by the waiter. Driftwood said, "Let me see that. ... $9.40? This is an outrage." Then, turning to the blonde, he said, "If I were you, I wouldn't pay it."

I know you can still get western fries at Bullock's in Westminster. I just had some a few days ago.

In the 80's I would always get the western fries at this food stand in the Harford Mall that sold fried chicken, western fries and Chinese food.

There's gonna' be a Large gap in my web surfing starting tomorrow. But happy sunshine, tennis and meals you can eat without wondering 'What the heck can I write about this'?
Enjoy the prime -- and time -- of your life.

Western fries are just potatoes diagonally sliced in 8ths usually with a potato slicer that cuts a whole potato in 1 whack. Then the potato's are washed and while still wet breaded in fried chicken breading and then fried til golden brown at a high temp. I've had them at the Royal Farms recently and (gasp) they were good!

I'll miss you, EL. Enjoy your last day and have a wing for me!

Best wishes for your "retirement" or whatever you want to call it, because I'm reasonably certain we'll see you about somewhere. And now if you see us, you can actually introduce yourself to us!

I live footsteps from The Peppermill and only go there with my parents and grandparents. Cabin fever got me desperate during the Snowpocalypse, but I called and they weren't open.

The recent snowy weather and being snowed under at work haven't let my brain organize a farewell message. But, I do want to say I have enjoyed your reviews and the opportunity to play in the sandbox. I hope you wake up tomorrow with a grand sense of freedom and the knowledge you're welcome here anytime.

Holy moly, it's juggle departments!

while not a frequent poster, I have been an almost daily reader and have been debating a farewell message.

You'll definitely be missed and I hate that you're leaving, but wish you the best that life has to offer.

Congratulations and Best Wishes!

The day has finally come (boo hoo) when you hang up your keyboard. You did a masterful job with the blog and created a real sense of community, and in the process helped grow the foodie movement in Maryland.
Bravo, and enjoy your well-deserved retirement!
( Just don't be a stranger)

I like Royal Farms fried chicken and western fries.
EL - Have a great time today!! Thanks for the entertainment and Happy Trails to you....

EL, if I end up on McIntyre's blog whining about comma splices, I'm going to blame you.

Ms. Large,
Thank you for making Baltimore a much more interesting place. Your reviews and blog have made me venture into new places and try things I otherwise wouldn't have tried. You have kept us informed and used your influence graciously and generously. Best of luck to you in the next chapter of your life.

Wow, the day is here. How time flew between announcing your retirement and The Big Day.

Congratulations EL and best wishes for a well-deserved retirement.

The Peppermillis in Towson?
Who'da thunk?

I had to make one stupid neighborhood mistake before I go or you wouldn't think I wrote the post. Sigh. I'll correct it. But my correction will probably be wrong. :-) EL

I hope the sun shines every day for you.

Ditto what Michael A. Gray said. Your blog is my favorite. Enjoy your retirement.

They still sing Happy Birthday at Pappas Restaurant.

EL- So sorry to see you go, still hope that the supper clubs will continue (Pretty Please Robert?) Best of luck and thank you!

Um...they still sing at all of the chain restaurants....

Perfect Captcha for a final blog post: niceness justice

Wait! Wait! It's not my final blog post! I have one more because I haven't quite said everything I want to. I'm finishing it now. Sorry for the confusion. EL

If "Sex in the Bathroom" article was in The Globe & Mail in Toronto, The Globe & Mail prints one ficticious story a year for the fun of it. (But I thought it was on April 1).

Try the 4 East Madison Inn -- it has a lovely patio/garden and they do a lot of weddings. Chef Sandy Lawler (Feast @ 4 East) does a great job with sustainably sourced, seasonal and delicious food. You can even bring in your own alcohol!

The Peppermill is a great choice for someone in their 80's (not sure if they sign though). I assume also that Pappas is, based on the clientel that I have seen coming and going. The only thing about Pappas might be the parking. Depending on what time you go, the parking lot is usually packed, parking is tight, and they do not have a lot of handicap spots (not implying anything Cynthia, just saying some older folks need handicap spots. Heck, some days I do!).

Plus I hear Pappas has the BEST crabcakes in town!!! (Sorry EL, just had to leave you with one more crabcake shill).

Take care EL and enjoy your new journey in life.

I hope you find the peace and relaxation that you're seeking. I think it would be great to organize another dinner for the fanboys and fangirls with you, the star of the show in attendance.

While I also have been an occasional poster, but avid reader, I will miss the "elegant repartee", the absurdisms and the good food reviews, recipes and advice.

Enjoy! There is a certain joy in getting up in the morning to drink a cup of coffee, read the paper and then start your day.

Concerning the garden location for the wedding, you have to use their choice of two caterers (both good), but the garden courtyard at the Inn at Henderson Wharf is a lovely place for a wedding reception. I had mine there.

Meredith - depending on the season, Gertrude's at the BMA has a fantastic patio that looks out onto the museum's scultpure garden - very pretty, secluded and yummy food (they do a lot of weddings, including my own!)

jl, New Wordville is a no-whining zone.

well; EL is gone, who was this woman? that spread fear amongs all the restaurants when she walked in, and no one ever knew what she looked like, and we all imagined her to be tall, and skinny, and mean, going by her last name, and her pen to be like a sword that cut heads, when she wrote the article, it was either a good day or days to follow, or a bad season to follow for that rest.. But that fear that she spread was good in my opinion, it kept me on my toes when I owned a small greek rest. in east Baltimore, and everytime a tall skinny woman walked in with two or three others, I imagined, could this be her? AND SO THE FEAR BEGAN,
and even thoe I often did not agree with all her write-ups,
I very often gave her credit for most of them.
Today i am out of the rest. business, but i import and sell my own EVOO @ all the local farmers markets from my farm in Southern Greece,
but I will miss that name,
Elizabeth Large.
Good Luck to you, and if you ever visit the Waverly frmmkt,
or JFX, OR BMI--stop by, and pick up some of the best EVOO TODAY.

Wow, you sure have a flair for the dramatic, Dimitrios. I like.

Enjoyed your comments over the years. This is my first time on your blog, and sad to say, it will be my last to you.

I was sorry to read in the Messenger that Mr. Lents (of the Grill Art rest passed away and the Grill Art is closed. Was a classy act with great food and atmosphere. I'm sure that I am not the only one to feel this as a real loss to the neighborhood.

Enjoy your retirement - and - Bon Appetite!!!

How did the Ambassador Dining Room go from fruit cups and pork chops to upscale Indian? There must be an interesting story there.

Amanda C.--change of ownership, I believe.

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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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