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January 31, 2011

Your restaurant week experiences

Baltimore County's winter promotion ended on Friday, January 28, and the city's Restaurant Week officially concluded last night; however, many restaurants have announced extensions. Sunday, January 30; and Howard County's winter promotion finishes up tonight, January 31

Continue to post your restaurant week dining comments here, and I'll post a big wrap-up tomorrow.

Here's a list of area restaurants that run week-in, week-out weekly dining specials.

Restaurant Week multimedia gallery.
Posted by Richard Gorelick at 12:20 AM | | Comments (47)
Categories: Restaurant Week


Maybe it's just me, but...

I know we're talking Howard county, but it's really hard for me to view $40.11 per head as any sort of deal. Add to that the predictable mark-up for a half way decent bottle of wine, and you're likely looking at $120 to $130 per couple, before tax and gratuity. I don't know... unless I'm eating at the Charleston, I generally don't consider $160-$170 for dinner for two to be much of a deal.

JohnM, I am so with you. I'm pretty happy with a standard dinner out, with a $12-20 entree and a few beers, grand total $50 for two people.

Especially when you throw in the Groupon phenomenon, making it really reasonable to try out a lot of new places, I have a hard time buying into the excitement!

I have to agree with the other two commenters. I had the Restaurant Week lunch yesterday at Victoria's in Columbia. I went with the lobster bisque and sloppy joe. The food was above average. Soup was very smooth, creamy, and had just the right amount of lobster. I enjoyed the sloppy joe. They used shredded beef instead of ground beef, which I liked, and the sauce had the right amount of sweetness. It came with a side of pickles and jalapeno chips. Both were excellent. Just my opinion, but I think $19 was too much for soup and sandwich. I know it is Howard County, but I think a better value would be $13-14.

If you thought $19 was too much, why didn't you just order off of the regular menu?

@ anonymous

I confess I've completely given up on Vitoria's. While the food is good and I appreciate their beer selection, their prices are just too damned high for what you get.

The first time I went I swore I'd never return (tried to order a caprese salad, until the apologetic waitress showed me just how much salad my $9 was going to buy). However, last year they had Troeg's Nugget Nectar on firkin for a special event and I broke my vow. However, two pints later and more than $16 poorer (before tip) I renewed by vow to never return. So far I've had no trouble keeping my promise this time around.

My husband and I just got back from Victorias. We went there to try something new and to see what a Gastro Pub is. I got the lobster bisque and sloppy joe (which is a shredded braised short rib). I enjoyed my food - but I wouldn't rave about it. BTW - the chips are from a bag. I thought they were pretty tasty and mentioned this to the server. I was told they were the "Miss Vickie's" brand and can be purchased in the grocery story. My husband got the other selection, a chicken salad, and the pork steak over mac and cheese. The salad was about 3 -4 slices of very bland chicken over a bed of greens with (I think) a raspberry vinagrete. The mac and cheese was average. There was also andouille sausage in it - seemed like overkill. All and all, it was an average meal. I don't think we'll go back. Also, interestingly enough, it was not busy at all. There was no lunch crowd. Maybe it's the average food and the loud 80's music playing.

Oh, yea - I'm still trying to figure out what a Gastro Pub is.

"I'm still trying to figure out what a Gastro Pub is."

As near as I can tell, it's a place where you can order fairly upscale food at super inflated prices in a "pub-like" setting.

They've become rather trendy of late, but seeing as how I don't own a majority share of micro-soft, I tend to avoid them.

I'll hop on this "dissing Victoria Gastro Pub" train. Went there for lunch a month or two ago with the boyfriend. They had baked eggs as a brunch option, and I LOVE baked eggs. These were the most disgusting baked eggs I'd ever tasted. They were extremely overcooked (the yolks were solid, like a hardboiled egg) and greasy.

The poutine was good, but it was overpriced for what you get. For 12 bucks for the Large, you better pile on the duck confit to make it worth it, but there was barely any at all.

My husband and I went to Da Mimmo's in Little Italy last night to sample their restaurant week menu. I have recently moved to Baltimore and have been keen to try this historical establishment as I had heard so much about it and its food and ambiance. I was so let down and so disappointed. By everything... The food was below average, the service too brisk, and well the cherry on the cake was when we were told that they do not offer wines by the glass and we would have to order a full bottle. Having said that they did have a $25 bottle selection selected for restaurant week.

Very disappointing especially the food. Also, we were only given the restaurant week printed menu when we confirmed that is what were coming for and had no opportunity to even look at the a la carte menu or add a side to our order. Desserts were particularly below average. Not creative original or tasty!

Too expensive and not an enjoyable experience so don't go there.

@SJ - Thanks for your comments about Da Mimmo. A couple months ago, we had planned to go there for my Dad's birthday. Then, after reading some reviews online, I was completely turned off. Most peoples' grievances mirrored yours, especially the no-wines-by-the-glass comment(which seems snobby and greedy at the same time).

If you want a great Italian place in Baltimore, Aldo's and Della Notte are very nice, and you should also check out Amicci's (just reviewed, too!) for a great cheap, casual Italian-American neighborhood haunt. Yummy.

I've never been to Da Mimmo's. But after reading the brickbats hurled here, I thought I'd at least give the place a chance and check their website. Which despite some nifty graphics struck me as an exercise in futility, starting with lunch and dinner menus in which the dishes were lovingly described sans prices (a pet peeve.) Then came a pretentious section titled "Dining with the Stars" featuring tired photos of folks like Dustin Hoffman and Liza Minelli supping at Da Mimmo's. A wine list was conspicuously absent. In short, I wasn't persuaded to stray from Gennaro's or Amicci.

I had dinner at City Cafe before the BSO. We ordered from the RW menu, though some items were off the regular one. By no means did anyone scale back. My spouse had seared scallops in a beurre blanc (4 medium/large) and beef two ways-a bistro steak and pot roast. The former with a nice texture and the latter something grandma made-delicious. I had espresso rubbed lollipop lamb chops (4 2-bite) and duck 2 ways breast and confit with a wonderful risotto. (The chops accomplished sweet with a little end kick.) I asked for medium on the chops but they were a little past that, but the breast was a perfect pink. Desserts were on target with warmth and sweetness on a very cold night.
I have always had good service and tonight didn't differ. It is one place where the wait staff always seems happy. My only complaint would be that the kitchen moves things along to quickly. If I didn't have somewhere to go I would have felt rushed. HOWEVER, the true bonus was a $10 gift card per diner to use on a future visit until the end of 2011. So in reality dinner was 25.11 per person. At $35.11 the meal was a value if you normally eat 3 courses. The gift card made it a near steal.

My last trip to Da Mimmo was more than ten years ago. I had the foie gras appetizer which came in a very generous portion and ordered a 375 ML bottle of sweet white wine to go with it. The waiter gave me a funny look and pointed out to me that it was a dessert wine. I had to reassure him that I knew what I was doing. Don't remember what I had for dinner but do remember considering getting wine by the glass because I didn't know if the two of us could handle a whole other bottle. Found out then that they only sold by the bottle. Didn't really bother me that much because getting wine by the bottle is always a better deal anyway. Will probably go back if only to see if the foie gras is still on the menu.

Gave up on Da Mimmo's years ago. We prefer La Scala or Sotto Sopra. I miss Boccaccio back in the day.

Took advantage of Restaurant Week in Balto. County and had a great meal at Patrick's. The Tournedos entree was listed as $31 on the regular menu and we paid $35.10 for the 3 course meal including the Tournedos. I like the Restaurant Week deals. Never been disappointed.

We also gave up on most of Little Italy. The only Italian restaurants we have repeatedly enjoyed in Baltimore are Cinghiale, Sotto Sopra, Sammy's Trattoria and La Scala. The rest has been terribly disappointing. As I frequently say, if I can make it better at home with little effort or expense, I would have to be a moron to ask you to make it for me and to overcharge me for it.

Three of us ate at Mr. Rain's Fun House Friday night, and we are all very glad we did. Its a fun space, the food was very good, and the wait staff very knowledgeable and helpful. We did wander of the RW menu, so I can't comment on if that was a "deal" or not.

I can, however, highly recommend the tuna poke app and the pork entree. The pork was rich and very juicy; the greens were a good match and the vinegar was served on the side. The venison sausage was a hit with all of us.

They have reasonabely priced bottles of wine, and flights of unusual cocktails. We all expect to be back.

We also went to Patrick's in Balto County this weekend. Since it is our neighborhood place,and the food is always good, we go there frequently - the restaruant deals made it even better! Elaine - I believe you had a 4-course meal for $35.10 - Appetizer, salad, entree (with 1 - 2 sides), and a dessert. I got the clams casino app, ceasar salad, stuffed (with crab imperial) shrimp,served on a bed of rice; side of slaw, and the whipped chocolate mousse. My husband got the fried tomato app, the iceberg lettuce wedge, the beef filet and crab cake, and the pine nut roll. As is typical with Patrick's the food was good and we really enjoyed our meal. Nothing fancy about Patrick's, but it does put out good food at reasonable prices, and is always an enjoyable place to dine. (We always eat in the bar).

The family had a 'date' night Friday at Roy's. Despite years spent by my husband trying to get me to go there, I've always managed to avoid it until Friday. Something about Hawaiian fusion food just never spoke to me. We ordered from the RW menu and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the meal (rockfish for me and short ribs for him), the service, and the ambiance. Maybe I was just so blown away by the fact that they had a real kid's menu for my 5 yo daughter that had the audacity to veer away from the standard mac & cheese or fried chicken fingers. My little one has quite the palate and it was nice to order her a real meal that isn't pieced together from the appetizers and side orders. She ordered the sushi, btw. Side note, at brunch on Sunday (can't remember the place on Padonia Rd in Timonium/Lutherville - whatever that place is called, I'm a city dweller), an older grandfatherly type guy was blown away when she chose some smoked salmon from the buffet. "Does she like that???" he asked completely amazed at her selection.

I wouldn't put Roy's on my favorite list, but I also won't protest anymore when hubby wants to go there.

@ Dan D.

Unless I'm mistaken, it was my understanding that the traditional wine to have with foie gras is either sauterne or champagne. Of course there's no reason to stick to that formula if you don't want to, but in any event, a sweet wine with Foie Gras would be completely appropriate I would think.

What did the waiter think you should have with it? A bottle of chianti?

As for Da Mimmo's lack of a wine by the glass list, that strikes me not so much as greed (generally you get a better deal ordering by the bottle anyway), but more an indication of what they want in a customer. In other words, it sounds to me as if they're catering to couples and families by only offering wine by the bottle. If you are single, you are unlikely to want to visit a place like Da Mimmo's, as most of us aren't inclined to consume an entire bottle of wine with our meal at a restaurant.

I gather this is a not so subtle attempt on their part to make sure they don't have any single folks dining by themselves in their restaurant.

No, it's greed and stupidity. What is the possibility that a couple orders food where one bottle not will suit both dishes? Answer: rather common.

Mandatory 2 big glasses of wine for 2 people. Yay, for drunk driving.

The kind of customers they want are stupid with stupid money and a taste for a very tacky piano lounge and arrogance backed up by poor quality and over-priced food.

Besides, they serve wine by the glass at the bar. Game over.

Besides, nobody cares about da Mimmo.

Now that the law has been changed, you don't have to drink the whole bottle. Just cork it up and take it home with you.

Last night I went with a companion to Brewer's Art for their RW menu. I've ordered off of their bar menu many times in the past, but this was the first time I had eaten in the dining room.
First, the service was impeccable. The pacing of the meal was superb, and the wait staff was always at hand though never hovering. We, admittedly, did an egregious act of holding a table for a really long time during typically peak hourse, however there were always tables open and the dining room was not crowded so we didn't feel that bad. That being said, the staff never once rushed or hurried us.
I started with the beet and blood orange salad. It was very well balanced in flavor - it hit sweet, nutty, citrus, and bitter notes in every bite while remaining as light as a salad should. For the second course, the duck confit was fall off the bone delicious. The plate with all of its elements felt like a painter's palette, which I mixed and played with as I saw fit, though that left room for me to wonder if I was enjoying the dish as the chef may had intended.
The dessert was a fabulous finish as well. I have always been a fan of Brewer's and they certainly did not disappoint.

@ JohnM, I agree with your wine match for foie gras: champagne is good with most anything. Sauternes is the conventional match because it's French and it's expensive. I'd say anything sweet and white will do.
@ Dahlink, years ago I was by myself at the hotel restaurant (in Cleveland) for a convention. I ordered a (bottle of) white for appetizer and a red for the entree (the whole thing was comped). What I didn't finish I took back to my room. The waitress didn't mind and was actually very thankful.

The Prime Rib knows how to do Restaurant Week. When my wife and I arrived a few minutes early for our 7:00 PM reservation last night, we were warmly greeted and promptly whisked to our table. No waiting at the bar til you're called. Our waiter was the consumate professional. When I asked to see the wine list, he pointed out that there were special wine choices on the back of the Restaurant Week menu. Included was an exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon at an equally exceptional $6.00 a glass. As for our dinner, the Caesar salad was splendid and the deserts (chocolate mousse pie for me, creme brulee for my wife) decadently delicious. But the star of the show was as good a slab of roast beef as I've had in years, rich and buttery, prepared precisely as ordered. It may have been a tad smaller than the cut from the regular menu but complemented by tangy garlic mashed potatos and a nutmeg-laced creamed spinach, it was more than enough. There are a few restaurants in town where Restaurant Week really does offer an outstanding value -- and at least from our experience, The Prime Rib tops the list.

Agreed with those that don't get the hype about Restaurant Week. Unless we are going somewhere expensive - we did Blue Hill Tavern the year it opened to check it out - I don't really see it as being that great of a deal.

For example, we have been to Kooper's in Fell's a few times, but I've never paid $60+ for dinner for two there, even with dessert. For the majority of the places we go, it doesn't make much sense. I guess we're just cheap. :-)

Plus, being vegetarian, having less choices at most restaurants isn't helpful.

La semana del restaurante chupa.

i've had similar past experiences as read about here concerning city cafe (since they got the new chef) and brewers (have yet to have a bad meal in the dining room).

as for prime rib...i've been for drinks and apps at the bar, but we are heading there tomorrow for the at least the RW experience, which based on MAG's review, sounds great. can't wait. thanks for the insight.

We're doing Gertrude's on Saturday. Any thoughts? I have only eaten there for a corporate party years ago.

I ate at Gertrude's (assuming this is the place at the Art Gallery) 3-4 years ago during RW. For that particular night, the food was very good, but the service was very slow. I can't say if that was a one night thing or not. I haven't been back, but it's not because I disliked the place, it's more because there are 50 places in Baltimore that I want to try, so it's tough for me to go back to a place more than once unless it really wows me or if it's really close by.

Post your thoughts after you go, I would like to know how it goes for you.

Something about the environment at Gertrude's really annoys me. I hated the experience. Also, when I looked at the menu, not one thing appealed to me. I can't really explain, it;'s a personal thing. Everything felt sterile and flat and cold.

Regarding the Prime Rib, while I also had a good time and appreciated the RW deal they had going, I really feel a little truth in advertising is necesssary after the post from Michael Gray.

"It may have been a tad smaller than the cut from the regular menu"

Um, a tad smaller? The folks next to us got the regular size prime rib, which had to be roughly thrice the size of our portions. Granted, the regular portion serving size is ridiculous, and granted the portion I received was ample, but there's really no comparison (size-wise) to the RW serving and the regular serving. However, as MG stated, the food was terrific and the Prime Rib incredible.

As for the service, while it was excellent, I wouldn't say we had quite the same experience as MG. We had to ask about the RW menu, which was then brought to us without any further fuss. At that point we were also advised that they had a specially priced wine menu as well (which we already knew, and was the reason we were there on a Sunday night).

Regarding the wine menu... every Sunday night certain wine bottles are half price. Those wines are on the regular wine menu as well, but are discounted significantly on Sundays. While one can certainly find some gems on the Sunday list, one needs to be cautious in their selections. It's rather apparent that the reason the wines in question are on the list is because the restaurant has not been able to move them as quickly as they would have liked (either becaue they may have bought too much of it or because the wine has not proven to be a popular item). Some the wines on the list I would be very hesitant to order, as they look to be well past their prime.

Regardless, the Prime Rib is indeed an excellent place to visit during RW, though I'm not sure my own experience quite matches that of Mr. Gray.

Hey ryan97ou, I suggest you order an extra app off the regular menu - the Greenberg potato skins.

@Donna -

Noted. and i'll be sure not to expect the best wine the world has to offer on half price bottle night, i know that's an easy mistake to make.

i kid.

You're right, John M. "Tad" was meant to be whimsical in comparing Prime Rib portions. Didn't work. But unlike your experience, there was no need to ask for Restaurant Week menus. They were at our place settings when we arrived.

As a Foodie, I usually avoid RW because I find no real value to it. However I manage to be in Linwoods on Sunday and had a wondeful time. The biggest advantage was that the restaurant was empty which allowed the staff ample time to do an excellent job. I didn't use the RW menu, but from what I saw the RW menu selections portions weren't scaled back. Going with the regular menu cost about 15.00 more but I got what I wanted and enjoyed it.

did patrick's last night for the county RW and it was awesome, our first time there and we were very excited to find out it was delicious and right in the neighborhood! Mushroom caps stuffed w/ crab imperial and the shrimp-stuffed crab imperial was amazing. The crab cake my BF got was a little on the dry side, but still pretty good. the homemade key lime pie and creme bruele were an excellent finish to a great mea!

went to prime rib last night and had pretty much the exact experience i expected, which is to say, old school steak type place that made me feel like i might have been in an episode of mad men.

i wasn't expecting molecular gastronomy at this joint, and instead was treated to some great salad/prime rib/creme brule.

we had the bottle of cab they had available for $24 as part of RW, and while it wasn't anything mind blowing it was enough to hold up to the prime rib.

my only qualm was we ordered the potato skins and the waiter forgot about them. in hind sight we were happy we didn't get them as we were stuffed (even with the smaller prime rib portion). the waiter remembered just before we got our desserts and apologized profusely and thanked us for our diplomacy in the whole matter.

for some reason things just taste better when you're in the prime rib. maybe it's the pianist, or the tuxes, or the dark "important stuff has happened here" vibe you get, but whatever the reason it was a nice indulgence for a night.

Completely agree ryan97ou. I wouldn't want to go there all the time mind you (nor would my cardiologist I'm thinking), but as an occasional treat, it's really hard to beat the Prime Rib.

I was talking to my girlfriend about it, and we both sort of felt it was the antithesis of the Charleston (which we like quite a bit as well). They aren't trying to push the envelope with the latest cuisine fad, it's just good solid food done very, very well, in a relaxed (yet still formal) environment. Sometimes, that's exactly what I'm in the mood for.

Mr Rain's Fun House last night. In honor of the year of the rabbit, we tried the Braised Rabbit - very good. But the star was the Adobo Pork Shank. I was pleased to see that they were crowded - the out-of-the-way location didn't seem to keep people away.

Shouldn't we abstain from eating rabbit in the Year of the Rabbit? Just wondering ...

I prefer to avoid dragon in the Year of the Dragon, Dahlink...

Ordered the prime rib from the RW menu at The Prime Rib. While I always cruise straight through the entire enormous slab featured on their regular menu, the RW portion is still easily twice larger than what heath advocates say we should eat at one meal. I was surprised that TPR was not jammed, as their RW offer is a great value

The Black Olive on Saturday was delicious, except for the flourless chocolate cake, which was slightly dry. Our server was cheerful and knew what she was doing. I had the Greek spreads appetizer, the crab cake and the flourless chocolate cake. The sides were mashed sweet potatoes mixed with regular potatoes, and a green salad. The other desserts our party ordered -- baklava ice cream and carrot cake -- were great, so I just chose poorly. It was clear the cake had been sitting in a refrigerator or on a shelf for some time (unless it's just a bad, dry recipe). But other than that, everything was great. I love the atmosphere in there. BTW, looks like the new Inn at the Black Olive is open, but not sure about the new wine bar and food market.

WE were at the Boat Show at the convention center on Saturday and had the RW menu at Kona Grill next door. I had the miso glazed mahi-mahi, which was perfectly moist and tender. The fried rice that came with it and the brocollini were great, too. Had the apple bread pudding for dessert. Perfect ending. Nice, unobtrusive service. Now, if only they will put a sign on the emergency exit, so cold wind doesn't blow in when clueless people exit that way. Ah, but minor quibble.

went to ruth chris (pier 5 location) last night, which allowed for a good comparison between an old school steakhouse such as the prime rib (which i had just been to thursday) and newer steakhouse trying to recreate that old school idea.

while everything overall was pretty similar and good there were some differences. the decor and vibe just seems a bit more bland and "manufactured" at ruth chris, while everything was nice it just didn't have that same dark mysterious vibe as prime rib. The music also didn't help, which veered towards the elevator music variety, compared to the live pianist at the prime rib.

did i mention they had battery powered "candles"? maybe this is a green initiative, but if i'm paying the type of cash that normally gets spent there i would think real candles would be in order? or maybe i'm just being too nit picky.

the service seemed a bit more formal at ruth chris, and considering we had 12 people at our table it was surprisingly good and seamless. Slightly better than the prime rib. (which may differ depending on the server)

food: the steak at RC came out on a 500 degree plate, sizzling with what seemed like an entire stick of butter. Bit gimmicky if you ask me, and may have been the reason for the slightly overcooked steaks? They added bottles of red wine to a small decanter after opening the bottle at RC, which was a nice touch.

the creamed spinach was better at TPR i thought and TPR also offered unlimited refills for your sides, even though the amount they give you initially is ample. The sides seemed slightly smaller at RC.

Desserts were about equal, with the chocolate cake at TPR slightly edging out it's espresso laced counterpart at RC.

overall if i am gonna spend money on a fancy meat and potatoes type dinner i would rather choose the real deal, or maybe it's just because the prime rib is a 5 minute walk for me.

While we're comparing steakhouses, I snuck in with a friend to the Capital Grille last night.

I've been meaning to give it a try, though the proliferation of steak houses in the city haven't exactly compelled me to hurry it up.

The manager was kind enough to send out a cocktail shrimp platter for our wait - an understandable frustration even in the wane of Restaurant Week.

I recognize I'm hardly the Grille's target corporate yuppie market, though I found everything to be rewarding and capably executed. Service was friendly and pleasant enough -- one wonders if certain joints (not necessary CG, mind you) make it a point to remind their servers that RW is a marketing tool; that amicable service is one of those things that keeps customers coming back.

Our cuts were well-prepared; I may have been made a convert to their Kona strip. The creamed spinach was wonderfully laden with nutmeg, and yet retained a freshness; one of most common ways to ruin creamed spinach, I find, is to overcook it to the point of mush. The au gratin was rich and luscious, without being overly weighty.

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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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