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March 3, 2010

Talbot County grub and grit

Choptank RiverNew York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton fills today's review of a Greenwich Village restaurant with all sorts of Baltimore references, most related to The Wire.

He mentions Wire characters Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell. He ends the review by quoting The Wire's Snoop, "a stone-cold gangster making sense of the Baltimore night." He also drops John Waters' name and says the restaurant's vibe was "suburban, as safe as Cal Ripken."

Why all the Charm-City centrism?

The restaurant is named Choptank.

As in the river that's neither physically nor culturally attached to Baltimore.

"Mr. Sifton may remember Baltimore and know its current cultural references, but his geography is a little rusty," writes a poster on the Times' dining blog. "The Choptank River is not across the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore. The mouth of the Choptank is about 45 miles south-southeast of Baltimore Harbor, and as far as culture is concerned, it might as well be one thousand miles."

The only legit Baltimore reference was to Ostrowski's Polish sausage, which is on the menu under "nibbles" ($7 with sauerkraut and a house-made pretzel).

Sifton described the sausage as "garlicky as a Pigtown housewife." 

The Choptank River runs through Queen Anne's, Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester Counties as well as -- who knew? -- Stringer Bell's 'hood. Baltimore Sun photo by Monica Lopossay

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 3:49 PM | | Comments (16)


My, Mr. Sifton sure looks down his nose at us, doesn't he!

The menu at "Choptank" looks nothing like what you would find at an actual restaurant on the Choptank.

This is my favorite review where they say the Choptank is a "river near Baltimore".

I know, shrimp po boys, fish sticks, and extra-crispy, brined, buttermilk-soaked poussin immediately brings Baltimore to mind! Thanks for the laugh, Hon!

BTW, only an idiot in NY would "cook" the hard shelled crabs in the soup until they're rubbery!

ah, yeah, lookin' down our noses at yah, NY!

I personally think it is great that Baltimore/Maryland gets a call out from NYC. And in the village on Beeker Street! While not all dishes represent local cuisine, the restaurant seems to be making an effort to represent Baltimore in a positive way; the restaurant critic not so much.

While I am a big fan of Christian Louboutin, the replicas, not so much. shill spam at 1:35, 1:39 and again at 1:39.

More spam than ever even with re-captcha!

I beg to differ, Joyce. A Christian Louboutin Replica has the same elegant, aristocratic bearing as their English Language Replica.

Sifton's somewhat snide review makes you appreciate the kindness our Ms. Large displayed even when she wasn't thrilled by a restaurant. Interesting that Sifton hated the fried chicken (tossing in 'poussin' to show his erudition) while the Time Out reviewer thought it was the high spot of his meal. One final thought -- is there any dish that evokes more of a sense of Baltimore than a po' boy sandwich?

In case anybody missed it, Sifton had additional photos of the food at Choptank on his Diner's Journal blog

ReCaptcha: sleetier the

As true blue Baltimorean living in NYC, when I first heard about the restaurant Choptank, I thought, how could one pull this off north of the Mason-Dixon?
So regarding the NY Times review: Ms Large, Is Baltimore, "the city that reads," having a hard time getting between the lines on this? What we really have here is a sincere love letter to the dear folks of Charm City and the cuisine of Maryland. The main Sifton concern was: MD tagged meals were being served that weren't up to the State's,"... addmitedly sometimes stringent screening process."
He saved you a trip.

Michael G, had you read this blog, you would have noticed that Elizabeth Large retired in February, so your comments were off the mark if you were addressing them to her. (It was Laura Vozzella who started this topic.)

I thought the pic of the crab cake looked like Mrs. Pauls.

who you calling a housewife?

Point taken.The Baltimore Sun should change the name of the column to give Laura Vozzelas' work the proper credit.
I stand by my comments ie:Choptank.

Michael G, like it says at the top right of this page, Laura Vozzella is running this blog until the Sun names a new permanent restaurant critic. Once that happens, there may well be changes in the blog's name, but, until then, the D&L name continues.

As for Sam Sifton, he seems to fancy himself an expert on Maryland food because he worked for 10 years at the New York Press with a number of City Paper alumni. Doesn't Sifton has a better basis (such as actually dining in Maryland) to justify his claimed expertise?

It's funny, because he could have simply replaced those Baltimore references with a similarly snobby and unnecessary list of references that actual relate to the Choptank: Harriet Tubman, James Michener, John Barth, Wedding Crashers, Frederick Douglass, James McBride, etc.

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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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