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November 1, 2010

Monday morning quartberbacking -- Great Sage

greatsageThis was a tricky one. I had to decide whether to review Great Sage as a restaurant or as a vegan restaurant. If I ended up somewhere in between, it's because Great Sage does a good job of not being qua-able. There was no room in the review to bring up my friend's objections to the qi at Great Sage -- he thought the decor was pretty enough but the Buddhist art and artifacts plucked his nerves. His vegetarianism (and former veganism) have zero to do, he says, with why he doesn't eat meat.

I know a guy who's like that about yoga -- he always look for the class with the least philosophy.

Baltimore Sun photo/Karl Merton Ferron
Posted by Richard Gorelick at 4:07 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Monday Morning Quarterbacking


Qua-able--is that a Richardism?

I sympathize with the yoga guy, by the way. I'm there to let go, not pile on.

Dahlink, at first I thought it might be Klingon, but I looked up "qua" and lo, it is a word. I think we encounter it most frequently in the phrase "sine qua non".

it made a little more sense before I rewrote the first sentence...

Great minds - Great Sage...

We took a vegan friend to Great Sage for her birthday on Friday. She is not a vegan by choice; recent mysterious health issues have caused her doctors to try putting her on a vegan diet, and it seems to be working. She is trying to be a good sport, but she is a bit of a foodie, and it has been difficult for her. This was her second time there - I went with she and her husband last month. She has really enjoyed Great Sage because she feels like she can still eat out with friends without anyone in the party having to sacrificing anything.

I will get my two biggest gripes out of the way immediately: the bar and the service. Our party had eleven people in it, and we were seated at a large table at the back of the restaurant. My husband and I had a gig beforehand, so we arrived later than the rest of the group. The restaurant had been told we would be coming late, but did nothing to find chairs and place settings for us. They just watched us stand there for about ten minutes, until my husband went and got chairs for us. We tried several times to order a drink, but finally gave up, and my husband went to the bar. My husband asked numerous times for a glass of water which never arrived, and we had to repeatedly ask them to remove the empty plates and glasses from the table. The staff was very friendly, but also incompetent.

The bartender was also pleasant, but clearly had very limited knowledge. My husband asked what bourbons they had, and the only one she could find was Bullet. He got one on the rocks for us to share. After trying again later to order a drink from the table, I also went to the bar. I asked her what scotches they has available, and she dug around for a while, clearly puzzled. While she searched I considered the two other bourbons that she hadn't mentioned to my husband earlier, and the bottle of Glenfiddich 12 in clear view right up front. She told me they didn't have any, and I pointed her gently in the direction of the Glenfidditch, which I also ordered on the rocks. Like I said - very friendly, but not knowledgeable. The pours were quite generous (nearly doubles), and we were charged $8.66 for each (Hold on - the same price for Bullet and Glenfidditch 12? Huh?). This was a bonus for us, but we would be more likely to visit the bar again if they would expand their selection and knowledge.

Now that that is out of the way – we really did enjoy the food. Our table ordered the Soft Pretzel and two Mediterranean Hummus Plates for appetizers. The pretzel was fabulous, and came with three delicious dipping sauces; Dijon ‘honey’ mustard, Thai chili hummus and chili ‘cheddar cheese’. The Mediterranean plate contained hummus ,dolmas, artichokes, olive tapenade, roasted onions, crudités and naan. Everything was delicious, but there was nowhere near enough naan/pretzel/crudités to go with the dips and tapenade. The waiter was very accommodating about bringing us extra naan, although it took a long time to arrive.

To put it lightly, my husband has a very negative stance about vegans. He does, however, think vegans would make a delicious stuffing for roast chicken. It is a testament to how much he likes our friend that he set foot inside this establishment. I had to convince him that taking the birthday girl’s gift into Great Sage wrapped in a Chick-fil-a bag might be construed as tacky. ( I kind of wish I had lost that argument…) He was pretty determined not to like his food, which is why we had a Chick-fil-a bag in the first place. Instead he was pleasantly surprised. He ordered the quesadilla, and aside from receiving a bowl of salsa about the size of his pinky nail, still enjoyed it immensely. He also enjoyed some of my Autumn Squash and Mushroom Risotto, which was delightful. Several people ordered the Seitan Wellington Crisp and the Saffron Masoor Daal, and enjoyed those as well.

We all ordered dessert. The two that were good, were really, really good: Carrot Cake (delicious – I refused to share!) and the Chocolate Lava Cake. Everything else ranged from average to, well, not so good. Making vegan desserts must be extremely difficult, and I would certainly stick with the two winners, rather than any of the other selections.

All in all the entire group enjoyed the experience. The restaurant’s ambiance was relaxing, and really did cater to everyone. No one else in our party was on any type of special diet, but everyone found something they enjoyed, and said they would return – including my husband! Although the staff had some serious issues, they were always courteous and did seem to be trying. The food was fabulous, and you certainly can’t bet that price on Glenfiddich 12.

thank you for the great post!

Karen, thank you for the great idea! ( i'm 90% vegan due to allergies & irritating health issues) I know know where to demand as my birthday meal!

Laura Lee, I remember my Latin (some of it, anyway), but had never seen "qua" linked with "able" before. I am sorry to say I never studied Klingon. There are days when it might come in handy.

I had five years of Klingon in high school and it didn't do me a damn bit of good. I might as well have taken Esperanto.

slasds, I have the feeling that with Klingon it's all in the delivery--with feeling!

I always thought that the Jewish version of a wonton, Kreplach, would make a good Klingon word.
And to tie this post all together,

Esperanto ... My wife (the other, also exiled, Canon) is a graduate of the Key School in Annapolis. In her day they actually studied Esperanto as a replacement for "foreign languages." We still have several textbooks and a reader.

I think the "future of all communication" failed because every noun, verb and expression was designed to be perfectly "regular." Human beings, it turns out, can't stand things that are too organized.

REE, right on the money. Give me my irregular verbs! It's no accident that they are often the most important verbs.

I know of at least one person who got language credits for sign language. And one of my sons dated someone who went to graduate school at a school for the deaf and hearing-impaired (even though she was neither). They learned some ASL together. The only word I still remember is the sign for bullsh$t.

slasds--you made me laugh with your "five years of Klingon in high school"--glad you finally made it out of there!

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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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