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October 17, 2010

Your weekend dining adventures

crushSome of you posted your weekend dining plans. How did everything turn out? Even if you didn't post, tell us anyway.

How was that dinner at the Wine Market, Karen? A lot of us are curious about how Christopher Becker's doing.

How was your evening in Belvedere Square, Frequent Little Italy Restaurant Visitor? We don't hear too much about Crush on these boards, and not that I'm trying to plant any ideas, but I'm curious about the service you got at Grand Cru.

Lindsey! Hal Laurent! ryan97ou! Tell us how it went at the Running Festival (not to mention the pre-race carb-load).


Lissa, what's the big thing in Bat Mitzvah food these days? Do the kids still make memory glasses?

What was the thing to have at the Greek Festival, Robert of Cross Keys? Jason, did you get to the Russian Festival in time for that cheese bread (which, thanks a lot for making me think about all weekend)?

CockeysvilleK, how is the Milton Inn doing these days? 

AR, about that Capital Grille dinner -- was he surprised?

I was on the Eastern Shore this weekend, near Cambridge. The weekend included a review dinner, which I am excited about telling everyone about. Also, a few meaty breakfasts, and an impromptu trip to Ocean City....where I had (see next post). 

Baltimore Sun Staff/Algerina Perna

Posted by Richard Gorelick at 5:42 PM | | Comments (31)
        

Comments

I ate two packages (8 pieces per pack) of GU Chomps during the marathon, and a bag of Utz chips after finishing. This was my first full marathon, and I was happy with my time of 5 hours, 17 minutes, and 15 seconds. My right calf hurt, as did my feet, but I finished strong.

We had a celebratory dinner at Cinghiale Saturday evening.

Oh, and I saw D@L contributors Joyce Wienstock around mile 10 where the band she manages (Crying Backwards) was playing, and Lissa Potter around mile 16 where she was volunteering at one of the water stops.

Took Kathleen to Crush in Belvedere Square, where [promotional item] J.P. now works, for brunch on our twenty-eighth anniversary, and we were not disappointed. Ample buffet, remarkable cheese grits, pleasant ambiance (apart from the football game playing in the bar), reasonably priced, with remarkably good desserts. We plan to go back for dinner to order from the menu.

Hal looked great at Mile 16.

Trixie and I hit the Russian Festival, where we saw some excellent dancing and pigged out on lovely, smoky shashlik, beef and sweet cheese blintzes, fresh, crispy potato pancakes and borsch.

I can't believe they asked if we wanted sour cream on the last two. Is this not mandatory?

Grand Cru was busy, but even so, apps were pretty quick. I think the hit of the day there was the sausage platter, esp. for those people who like spicy meat. I had been interested in the platter of smoked fish from Neopol in the same mall, but the waitress suggested that I should go directly to Neopol for that. So we had the shrimp and bacon instead, and were very happy. Also very happy with their wine-by-the-bottle prices. Be aware that if you are at the outside tables, you need to go inside to order. As for Crush, it was all very good; food, service, and ambiance. Very good, but not great. The frayed ropes on the celing felt odd; as if they were there to make it less formal. The lamb was particulary good, as was the tuna special-seared rare with an asian sauce. I'd say pricing was within reason, but I still can't see being there more than once or twice a year.

No Greek Festival this weekend. My weekend dining was fairly limited to chafing-dishes. I had paella from Sascha's at Center Stage and short ribs from the hot food bar at Whole Foods.

Most interesting was watching everyone at the Whole Foods, not just me, use the the tongs to wiggle the meat away from the rib bones. At $7.99 a pound, no one going to pay for bones.

DH and I took a trip to Chesapeake City to the Chesapeake Inn, where we had brunch with a couple we hadn't seen since we got married 28 years ago. We had a great meal overlooking the water, and were not rushed at all- we were in the restaurant for almost 3 hours (they were not busy and didn't need our table).
We then walked around the town for awhile and enjoyed the beautiful weather. All in all, a great day!

We went to my MILs to celebrate my husband's birthday with a feast of steamed crabs from Costas. They were our first crabs of 2010 (and probably our last) and they were incredibly good.

We were going to take my nephew out to celebrate his 4h05m marathon run, but alas, the great-nephew had other plans. After they left, we went to Victoria Gastropub, where I had my first Weyerbacher Verboten. Outstanding, and it went very well with the burger...


@ frequent visitor

Just curious, but why did the waitress feel you would have a better experience it you ordered the fish platter over at the reestaurant? That's one of the things the GF and I order pretty often when we go to Grand Cru (at least when we used to visit), and we've always been happy with it.

Completely agree about GC's bottle prices. For take out they're on the high side I think, but $5 over listed retail for in house is pretty fantastic.

Unfortunately, it appears a lot of people share our impression of GC (we love it), and it''s generally so crowded that we've given up on it. We now take our business to Vino Rosina.

I spent Saturday baking bagels, honey cake, and, for the first time ever, no-knead bread, which was gummy, tasteless, and stuck to the pot - but it sure was pretty. I don't get the appeal, as baking real bread is a whole lot easier, and fool-proof.

On Sunday, I followed the Zingerman's mac + cheese recipe http://www.zingermansroadhouse.com/2010/09/21/zingermans-roadhouse-on-food-network/
substituting DeCecco pasta and a Wisconsin cheddar made with vegetable rennet (I'm sure the posted recipe isn't exactly the real one anyway). Needed to dig out my huge cast iron skillet to cook it and while the payoff was positive, it tasted nothing like what I ate at Zingerman's last Saturday and Sunday nights. Sided it with roasted tomatoes; a salad of roasted beets, red peppers, haricorts vert, corn, and Sungold tomatoes, basil, and oregano, all still going nutty in my garden; and the KNB with sweet butter. Dessert was roasted acorn squash, with the butter, honey, and brown sugar carmelized just so.

As much as I like to take advantage of the end-of-season farnmers market produce, I'm hoping hubby will note next Sunday I'd like to go out for dinner.

Oops, sorry, that was me - misspelling in the last paragraph and all.

Hmm...I wonder if the oven was hot enough for the no-knead bread, DB? I've not had that particular issue. I'm sure you use an oven thermometer, though.

The Wine Market was lovely all around. There were seven of us, and we ordered bottles of wine for the table. I heard they were terrific choices. Sadly, I couldn't join in the wine drinking - I had a lot of singing to do the following day, and I am allergic to something in wine - so I enjoyed some Macallan 12 instead. Our drinks arrived promptly, accompanied by a complimentary prosecco for a birthday toast; a very thoughtful touch.

We ordered a variety of appetizers. The beef carpaccio vanished immediately, with several noises of contentment. My husband had a surprisingly light and delectable mac-and-aged-cheddar-cheese. I stole a bite when he wasn’t paying attention. I had the field greens salad with shaved radishes in a maple vinaigrette. The maple vinaigrette was very different, and perfect for fall. Everyone in our group found the sundried tomato oil served with the bread to be outstanding.

Our entrees were delicious as well. The caper and preserved lemon yellow fin tuna special and the maple seared scallops with wild mushroom polenta were both fabulous. One person ordered the rib eye, which came with three different dipping sauces. He said he felt a bit silly putting anything on such a good steak, but that the sauces were certainly good enough to tempt him to do just that. My husband had the potato crusted turbot which was a touch dry (possibly overcooked), but still very flavorful. That dish was the only complaint of the evening, and the complaint was fairly minor…probably because he got to have some of my scallops.

The birthday girl had a crème brûlée - sadly I didn’t pay attention to what kind, but she loved it. A few people ordered a banana and chocolate bread pudding with peanut butter mousse, which was declared to be one of the best desserts in Baltimore. My husband said he wished he had skipped the turbot and just ordered three or four of the bread puddings instead. I have a feeling I am going to be asked to recreate this at home very soon. Anyone have a good recipe for peanut butter mousse?

We found the food and the service to be truly outstanding. The menu had a good balance – a hint of the familiar, but with an inventive seasonal flair. The only complaint lingering in the back of my mind is that the dining room was a bit noisy; fine for our purposes, but possibly not the best choice for an intimate dinner on a Saturday night. All in all it was a truly lovely evening, and we will certainly be back soon.

Hi Lissa. I have My Bread, written by Jim Lahey (the inventor of the NKB technique, made famous by Mark Bittman of the NYT), and I followed the directions to the letter. The book, BTW, is just gorgeous, and has many variations of the basic NKB, which I'll be sure to try - especially as I invested in Le Creuset's new 3.5 quart (the perfect NKB size), oven-safe to 500 degree pot topped with a lid with a stainless steel knob that won't burn off.

@John- Sorry, we didn't think to ask for details. Personally, I'm jut happy when the wait staff is that honest. But since you've had generally good experiences with it, maybe I'll try it next time. Oh, and to be clear, Neopol is not a restaurant; its a smokery inside the speciality grocery store in the same mini-mall. I think they do cater.

Chip's was delicious! Besides a horrible waiter who greeted our last two diners with "ugh you guys wants drinks?" and looked either high or just highly disinterested in working on a friday night, it was a great dinning experience as usual!

the "do you want a drink" thing KILLS me. I will never get used to it.

"Neopol is not a restaurant; its a smokery inside the speciality grocery store."

You are correct of course. They do have a menu which includes the fish platter, which I guess is why I referred to them as a restaurant (but they really aren't).

If memory serves, they have a smoked fish platter, a smoked meat platter and a combination platter. We've enjoyed them all, and I think they compliment the wine selection at GC very nicely. I would definitely give any of them a try the next time you're at GC (they deliver it right to your table over at GC, so it's pretty convenient).

The husband and I had a rare night out, toddler-free, and he surprised me with reservations at Aida Bistro. It was soooo good. I had lentil and sausage soup to start, and cheese ravioli with meatballs. My husband had a seafood chowder to start, followed by a Kobe steak special with potatoes and asparagus.

Aida herself was there, making the rounds and shaking hands. (I don't know if that's unusual since I don't get out much.)

Sadly we skipped dessert, but happily that was because we'd already had dark chocolate creme brulee that day. (He got himself a kitchen torch for his birthday.)

How is the Milton Inn doing these days you ask? After hearing uneven reports of the restaurants livelihood, my husband and I decided to return to the restaurant where our family has celebrated countless holidays, birthdays and even our wedding rehearsal dinner, this past Saturday. I wish I had good news to report, but something is definitely off at the Milton Inn and it certainly doesn’t seem to be a result of lack of business. We arrived right on time for our 8 p.m. reservation and were promptly shown to the lounge to wait for our table – “sure, no problem – we’ll enjoy a cocktail,” my husband and I thought. That is until we saw the sheer number of people packed into the lounge. With nowhere to sit down, we looked around the room and counted about 12 other couples who appeared to be hopelessly waiting for their table. “Uh oh, this can’t be a good sign of what’s to come.” After waiting 45 minutes for our table and watching 2 frustrated couples give up and walk out of the restaurant, we were finally shown to our table with a pretty insincere “apology” from the hostess. “Well that was certainly unpleasant but at least we are seated and can enjoy ourselves now.” Fifteen minutes pass and a member of the wait staff passes by our table and pleasantly lets us know she will be right with us. Five more minutes pass –no server. Finally, her colleague senses our now obvious frustration (at this point I can’t even pretend to be having a good time anymore. The napkins are starting to look appetizing and my husband is practically drooling over our neighbors delicious looking dinner), comes over and coldly takes our order. Not even a half asked apology about the wait this time. We order the MD crab soup and French onion soup for apps – they arrive relatively quickly. The crab soup is delicious (as always) with jumbo lump sweet crab, but the French onion was lacking. For entrees, we get the salmon with crab and tomato ragout and fontina and truffle veloute (beautiful piece of fish, but it was drowned in the heavy sauce) and the NY strip steak a la carte with asparagus and hollandaise (delicious piece of beef cooked to perfection). For dessert, we split the tiramisu (it’s ok – nothing to rave about). The food at the Milton Inn is still very good and what you’d expect from a fine dining restaurant – the service, however, was terrible. While the food was delicious, it was fiercely overshadowed by a long (and frankly unacceptable) wait in the lounge and cold service. The Milton Inn used to have such warm and attentive service and had we felt that the restaurant was truly sorry about our wait and obvious disappointment, we may have been able to forgive this experience and chalk it up to a busy and overbooked night. Until we start hearing more positive reports about the Milton Inn, I’m sorry to say we will be staying away.

the running festival was excellent. i got a PR for my half marathon clocking in at a pace of 7:49/mile. i would like to think that two back to back carb meals at Minato and Sabatinos contributed to the results.

Thursday night we went to minato where their sushi never dissapoints and friday night we braved the crowds in little italy to get a pasta meal at sabatinos. the crowd at sabs was insane, but since we had a reservation we were promptly seated once we arrived (despite tons of people in the lobby waiting for tables).

while i'm not gonna suggest that sabs is mind blowing, the food was good and i still say they have some of the best meatballs i've tried in the city (open to rec's). despite how busy the place was (i could barely hear myself think) our server was excellent, doing everything relatively quickly and with a good attitude.

@ryan97ou- just across the street from Sab's is a small deli that has an amazing meatball sub. The story is that there's a guy in Little Italy with his personal meatball reciepe, and he makes all the meatballs the deli uses. I can't confirm the story, but I have loved the sub- many, many times.

There is no deli across the street from Sab's.

FLIRV -

i am definitely intrigued. although hugh seems to refute your claim.

i will say that DiPasqualles has a very good meatball sub as well.

As for the meatballs, are you talking about Isabella's, which is a bit down the street from Sab's? Chiap's is across the street from Sab's (and Germano's, across the other street).

And, BTW, Isabella's meatballs are pretty darned good. Better than Sab's.

You are probably talking about "Fawn Confectionery" on the corner of Fawn and Exeter, a block east of Sab's which is at High & Fawn.

Paisanos know this as Mug's. They have cigarettes, orange soda, cherry machines and meatball subs. Def not a deli. But I hear good things. Meat balls not so Italian after all.

Meataball sub? Wassamatta you. You gotta head like a meatball. Lemme make you some nice ziti. Eh, get your elbows offa my table. Whatareyou a animal? Eh, a sandwich not a meal for growing boy.

Little Italy is great...I love that they did away with the sidewalks...feels just like the the old country in Sicily

I decided to eat my hamster because owe malley made me poor...job report my azz..i might buy another hamster, but if owe malley is reelected the new guy will meet the fate of his predecessor

I can't believe that Mugsy's is still open. I used to eat there 30 yrs ago when I worked in the neighborhood. He had an old wooden phone booth inside where he could freguently be found talking on the phone and writing on little slips of paper. I'm sure they were food orders

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner 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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