Posts Tagged ‘Restaurants’

Where to Eat Tomorrow

March 16, 2009

Baltimore Sun’s Sam Sessa ate corned beef and cabbage at five different restaurants in the area so you could figure out a place to eat tomorrow.

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Here’s where he ate and what he had to say about it . . .

An Poitin Stil

Address 2323 York Road, Timonium

Phone 410-560-7900

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

With Irish-themed tchotchkes crowding every wall, this sprawling suburban restaurant beats you over the head with its brogue. The pile of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes is worth savoring, though. At $13.29, it’s a pretty good deal, too.

Let’s start at the bottom, where melt-in-your-mouth potato chunks sat in a watery sauce. The potatoes were blanketed by a layer of large, steaming cabbage leaves. And finally, pink corned beef that came apart in hunks at the touch. This is Irish-American food at its best: warm and comforting.

Kelsey’s Restaurant and Irish Pub

Address 8480 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City

Phone 410-418-9076

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

“Hope you’re hungry,” the waitress said as she set down this dish of corned beef and cabbage, $14.99. We were famished, but still could barely finish everything on the plate.

Several spears of corned beef – tender enough to slice with the side of a fork – lay next to a pile of creamy mashed potatoes and a halved head of cabbage. Mashed potatoes may be less traditional, but they were no less welcome. And the sauce underneath the corned beef, cabbage and potatoes was rich enough to lend some flavor to the food without overpowering it.

Kelsey’s has a more formal setting than the Stil, with less Irish-themed memorabilia. The restaurant likes to advertise that its corned beef marinates for hours before it’s served. We believe it.

Quigley’s Half-Irish Pub

Address 633 Portland St.

Phone 410-539-9052

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

Even a half-Irish pub should know better. Instead of offering hearty hunks of corned beef, this Ridgely’s Delight establishment served tough strips of meat that looked more like beef jerky. This chewy corned beef was sliced extra-thin and sat next to a pile of red-skinned potato chunks, cabbage and crunchy carrot spears.

Little about the cabbage or potatoes was remarkable, either. Everything except the carrots tasted bland and, at best, the dish was barely passable. The whole order cost $7.69 – about half the price of the others we tried.

The Irish Channel Restaurant and Pub

Address 1053 Maryland Route 3 North, Gambrills

Phone 410-451-4222

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays

Nothing stood out about this order, $13.99, except the sheer size of it. Several corned beef strips – each about the size and shape of a piece of biscotti – shared a plate with chopped potatoes and moist cabbage. All told, it felt like 2 pounds of food. But the beef and potatoes bordered on dry, and the cabbage wasn’t cooked quite long enough. Overall, this order was just middle-of-the-road.

Slainte Irish Pub

Address 1700 Thames St.

Phone 410-563-6600

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays

The first few bites of this order, $12, tasted fine. The long, thick strips of corned beef, which sat between two halves of a head of cabbage, were soft and juicy. A few forkfuls later, we realized there was a pool of butter at the bottom of the plate, and everything had been drenched in it.

Normally, we’d say the more butter the better. But – believe it or not – there is a limit to just how much melted butter you can soak food in, and this corned beef and cabbage went over it.

For the price and the amount of food, Slainte could easily have made this into one of the best corned beef and cabbage deals in town. A little less butter would have gone a long way. As it was, this dish was just too rich.

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Everything Green Around Town

March 11, 2009

First of all . . . How did I not know that the Pogues are playing in Baltimore on Thursday?!?  They are one of my FAVORITE Irish bands and I am totally missing out.  ARGH!

And now, here’s a list of some of the things that are going on around Baltimore this upcoming weekend for St. Patrick’s Day.  I will be out and about, probably at the Au Potin Stil, which I will talk about a little bit more tomorrow!

What do you have planned?

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What: The Pogues
Where: Rams Head Live
When: Mar. 12, 7 p.m.
Cost: $55
Info: Shane MacGowan slurs punk and traditional Irish folk music in this band known for songs like “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” and “Fairytale of New York.

What: Keep the Mini-Pint Night
Where: Slainte
When: March 12
Info: For $4, this keep-the-glass special fills a mini-pint three times.

What: Change Your Luck Party
Where: Slainte
When: March 13
Info: For this, the second Friday the 13th in two months, Slainte shares the luck of the Irish. Drink $3 Guinness, meet the Guinness girls and win fun prizes while listening to live music.

What: St. Patrick’s Day Party
Where: Looney’s Pub North
When: March 13 – 17
Info: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with three days of live music, Irish food and more.

What: St. Patrick’s in the County
Where: Au Poitin Stil – Timonium
When: Mar. 14-17; Fri. 4 p.m.- close, Sat. 11 a.m. – 1 a.m., Sun. noon – close, Mon. 10 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Cost: $5
Info: The festival takes place in a tent in the parking lot and inside the restaurant, each location features a stage with a long line up of Irish performers. Drink specials every day. Sunday is “Family Day” with face painting balloons and clowns.

What: St. Patty’s Day 4 Bars x 2 Days
Where: Muggsy’s, Taps, Don’t Know and No Idea Tavern – Baltimore
When: March 14 – 17
Info: All four bars will be running the same special: Buy one 16-oz. stadium cup for $20 and receive Miller Lite Draft and Guinness for only $1, both days. Car bombs will be $5, with purchase of a cup.

What: Federal Hill Irish Stroll
Where: Cross Street Market
When: March 14
Info: In its 11th year, the Federal Hill Irish Stroll is sure to attract plenty of St. Patrick’s Day weekend merry-makers. Specials include $2 Miller Lite drafts and bottles and a variety of food specials.

What:St. Patrick’s Day at James Joyce
Where: James Joyce Pub
When: Mar. 15-17
Info: Mar.15: Pete Baker (9-1:30 p.m.),Brendan Pelan (3-7 p.m.);Mar. 16: Brendan Pelan (11 a.m.-3 p.m.),East End Rakes (3-8 p.m.); Mar. 17: East End Rakes (11 a.m.-3 p.m.),Someone Else (4-8 p.m., 9-1:30 a.m.)

What: Irish Shrine at Lemmon Street and surrounding area
Where: Begins in the B&O Museum parking lot
When: Mar. 15, 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free
Info: Tours include the Irish Shrine’s houses, St. Peter’s Church, Hollins Market, and St. Peter’s Cemetery. The first half of the tour takes about 1.5 hours, followed by an optional lunch at Patrick’s Pub (45 minutes) then on to St. Peter’s Cemetery. Call 410-669-8154 for a reservation.

What: St. Patrick’s Day Brunch
Where: Camden Club at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
When: Mar. 16, 11:30 a.m.
Cost: $30
Info: For reservations call, Jane Bailey 410-485-5834 or 443-838-5162.

What: St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Where: Inner Harbor and downtown
When: Mar. 16, 2 p.m.
Cost: Free
Info: Baltimore kicks off its wearin’ of the green every year with a grand parade hosting Irish dancers, bagpipe players in colorful kilts and bands like the Marching Ravens.

What:St. Patrick’s Day at Mick O’Shea’s in Mount Vernon
Where:
Mick O’Shea’s
When: Mar. 16-17
Info: On Sunday, Mar. 16, ub opens at 10 a.m. to welcome St. Patrick’s Day Parade spectators and participants. Donegal X-press plays at 4 p.m. On Monday,Mar. 17,live traditional music from 12-4 p.m. then at 6 p.m. Donegal X-press kicks it up a notch. Tuesday and Wednesday closed for repairs.

What: Meet in the Street
Where: Claddagh Pub
When: Mar. 16-17
Cost: Free
Info: While sponsored by Claddagh Pub, this party spills out from every bar on O’Donnell Square.

What: 1st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl
Where: Lucy’s Irish Pub, Mick O’Shea’s, Tir Na Nog, James Joyce Pub, Slainte
When: March 17, 3pm – 11:45pm
Info: The Shuttle Bus begins at 3pm and will make stops every 15 minutes to Lucy’s, Mick O’Shea’s, Tir Na Nog, James Joyce and Slainte.

City Paper Gives the Inside Scoop

March 10, 2009

If you pick up Baltimore’s City Paper, you’ll find their Annual Dining Guide!  Their staff of way more people than I felt like couting hit the pavement and chowed down at 170 different restaurants in Baltimore in order to put together a great compilation.  As a woman who loves order and lists, the guide made me quite giddy when I saw that it was organized by the fare that they serve.  Maybe it’ll help Capt. and I find an indian restaurant in Baltimore that we really love, because I’ve been craving some good korma!

In honor of it being 1 week away from St. Patty’s Day, here’s a little peek at the Irish restaurants that they reviewed in the city.  They missed Tir Na Nog, but that’s kind of OK since it’s a chain, and a few other places, but the ones below are definitely the Irish restaurants in the city that I tend to frequent.  Lucy’s is my default pre-theater restaurant and I’ve already made a reservation for dinner there before I see Cirque du Soliel at the end of the month.  Also, I had the most delicious blueberry and peach bread pudding at James Joyce last time I was there.  Mmmm . . . . !

Irish

James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant

616 S. President St., (410) 727-5107, thejamesjoycepub.com, $$

James Joyce provides the chance to score a proper pour of Guinness when you absolutely positively have to patronize this neck of the Inner Harbor’s woods. We’ve never tried any of the conventional dinner menu items–crab cakes, pork chops, and the like–but the Irish staples, such as fish and chips and a solid shepherd’s pie, are worth checking out.

Lucy’s

21 N. Eutaw St., (410) 837-2100, lucysirishrestaurant.com, $$$

Where Maggie Moore’s, which used to occupy this space, felt more like a pub with nice dining room attached, Lucy’s somehow feels more like a nice restaurant with a pub attached. Lucy’s menu offers an extensive selection of nouveau treats–sliders Irished up with Blarney cheese, seafood and pasta options, and even some small plates at the bar now–but the Irish selections sing, especially a gut-busting traditional Irish breakfast, good day or night.

Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant

1700 Thames St., (410) 563-6600, slaintepub.com, $$

This sprawling Fells Point spot has enough self-identity to avoid the Irish-pub-in-a-box trap. Sure, it’s self-consciously “Irish,” with Celtic motifs and scripts painted hither and yon, but it’s not trying to fool you into thinking you’re getting drunk in front of Aunty Molly’s coal furnace. We go for the real football and rugby matches on the downstairs TVs, relaxing with real, honest-to-god Irish people (and our American pals), drinking expert pours of Guinness, and eating excellent sandwiches, burgers, and respectable, if a bit pricey, shepherd’s pie.

The Professionals Decide . . .

March 2, 2009

Baltimore Magazine (which I love) has recently put out their first-ever ranking of the top 50 restaurants in Baltimore to eat.  It was a lot of fun to look at, especially when I recognized a few places that I have been fortunate enough to have been to in the past. 

I think that lists revolving around food can be so difficult to put together because of how much people’s tastes vary.  If my friends and I ever sat down and tried to compile a list of even our top 5 places to eat, the list would be so different.  So, of course, as I look through Baltimore Magazine’s, I am pretty happy that I agree with most of their selections.  Some of the best restaurants I’ve been to in the past year or so were included, in addition to a few places that are on the top of my list to try out.  For more about Baltimore Magazine’s selection process, check out their dining blog, In Good Taste by Suzanne Loudermilk.

One restaurant that I don’t particularly agree with is Baltimore favorite, The Charleston.  It’s hard to explain why because I think that it generally lives up to its height.  The food was delicious, the dining experience as a whole was excellent, the staff and host(esses) were top quality.  Capt. started with one of the best lobster biques that we’ve ever had, I had a scrumcious fried green tomato . . . I still talk about how much I loved the creme brulee trio I was served that had a melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin creme brulee. 

So, why don’t I think it’s the best restaurant in Baltimore?  I just didn’t walk away saying that it was the best meal I’ve ever had.  I said that it was good, I said that it was a great dining experience, but I wasn’t able to say that I was totally blown away.  Our pockets were over $200 lighter and we just felt ok about it . . . I’ve never recommended it, yet if people ask me about it, I do say that it’s delicious.  But just something in our hearts and about our tastebuds makes me say that the Charleston is overrated.  Yes, the restaurant that is considered the height of Baltimore’s fine dining, the restaurant that others strive to acheive the success of, is overrated.  I’m sorry Cindy Wolf, that’s just how I feel.  Apparently the professionals and a lot of other people in Baltimore disagree, but I stand by my story!

Here’s a few of the restaurants I happily eaten at and that I’ve been wanted to go to that also made it on the list and their rating.  If you want the full listing, do what I did and buy it yourself!

1.  The Charleston

6.  Woodberry Kitchen – Capt. and I went here for Valetine’s Day and definitely plan on going back.  The food was excellent, the atmosphere was cozy, and the service was attentive.  The food is fresh and local and the flavors in each dish definitely prove why the local movement is so successful.  A highlight was the cabbage and apple crepe.

9. Pazo – I can redeem myself to Cindy Wolf  by saying that I really like Pazo.  It has a very cool mediterranean lounge feel and the food is excellent.  I’ve been twice and wasn’t disappointed either time.  Each bite offers a fulfilling pop of flavor, and since it’s tapas, you can experience a number of different kinds of plates.  A highlight was the lavendar ice cream and fall fruit.

11. Salt – It’s on my date night list of places to go.

19.  Fin Steak and Seafood – I point Fin out to the Capt. everytime we’re in Fells Point and we keep trying to remember to go.  We usually forget, but I’ve heard good things and its on our list.

30. Roy’s  – Mike took me here for our first date night and we’ve been there again since.  It’s one of our favorite places and everything we’ve had is just fantastic.  I typically turn my nose up at chain restaurants, which Roy’s is, but the full flavor of every item on the plate prove me wrong.  A highlight is the molten lava cake and the opa.

31.  Dogwood – we’re hoping to go here in the next one or two weekends.

32. Jack’s Bistro – A chef friend of mine says that the chef at Jack’s is the most innovative chef in Baltimore.  That’s enough to convince me to want to go . . .

35. Iron Bridge Wine Company – This is my parent’s favorite default restaurant.  It’s about 20 minutes outside of Baltimore in Columbia, MD.  We buy all our wine here and I have registered to take a wine tasting class here in April.  I had a steak and blue cheese macaroni and cheese there, which was quickly shared with the whole table (much to my dissent).  You can sample their different wines by ordering flights or you can just ask their knowledgeable staff.

40. Tersiguel’s – It’s been so long since I’ve been to Tersiguel’s that it kind of doesn’t count.  I was a sophomore in high school and join my parents in celebration of my dad’s birthday in between school and cheerleading class.  It had been chicken nugget day in the school cafeteria, which was my favorite day of the week.  I proceeded to rave to my parents about how great the chicken nuggets are and how much I love them while eating one of the most moist roast chicken I had ever eaten in my life.  Apparently the maitre’de was entertained by it, because when I left, he commented to my parents that he was sorry they didn’t serve chicken nuggets for me.  Tersiguel’s is also about 20 minutes outside of Baltimore in Ellicott City.

41. The Wine Market – On the list

44. Corks – on my list!

46. b – Also on the list

47. Victoria Gastro Pub – Firstly, I have to say that the owners did a fantastic job transforming an old Bennigan’s into an elegant and formal dining experience.  The food was great, I had a melty and flavorful risotto and the staff was attentive and knowledgeable.

48.  Jordan’s Steakhouse – Jordan’s is right down the street from Tersiguel’s, giving people in Ellicott City a couple of options for higher end dining.  We ordered steak, green beans, and mashed potatoes, all a la carte.  Everything was well seasoned, the steak was rich and juicy, and the restaurant had a great atmosphere.  Where sometime Tersiguel’s can feel a little stuffy (at least to a 16-year-old me) and targeted to an older audience, Jordan’s has a more hip and modern look and feel to it, making it a but more appealing to younger couples in the area.