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For me Charleston still sits at the pinnacle of "fine dining" in Baltimore. For better or worse, the East Harbor location is now ultra-trendy, close by the water (ask to sit in the front if you want a view) and steps from several other chi-chi restaurants like Roys and Flemings and all that is Fells Point. Inside is serenity itself: richly appointed, comfortable and refined. Do not bring young children. Don't even think about it. The menu is split between prix fixe and a la carte. I enjoy Cindy Wolf's cornmeal crusted oysters - six or seven for a first course with lemon-cayenne mayonnaise are reason enough for me to go. The cornmeal fried soft shell crabs are amazing too. Sauteed and served in a bright lemony brown butter, they need and get nothing but the few dressed greens upon which they perch in oozing glory.

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Grilled gulf shrimp with Andouille sausage and cubes of salty tasso ham over stone-milled grits are a perennial menu favorite. I'm no Southerner, grits ain't me, but these grits is great!

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The fried green tomato "sandwich" (ok, stack) with lobster and lump crab hash includes tiny perfect cubes of Yukon gold potatoes and a healthy pinch of curry. Oh yes.

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Entrees are wonderful, but this time it was straight to dessert. Cheesecake with apricot compote. A ramekin-size light cheesecake on a bed of roasted chopped pecans was very good, but apricots are my favorite fruit and the intensely tart/sweet compote surrounding the cake was the best I've had.

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Charleston, In Baltimore, does a wonderful cheese course complete with cart and all. You can pick from about 12 or so cheeses.

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Tony Foreman is hot. Couldn't help but notice as husband, special dinner companion (sdc) and I walked into the newly renovated Charleston. He greeted us wearing an oh so stylish dark blue pinstriped suit with a silver and white striped tie. He managed to sport this look without appearing to be a pimp, definitely not something that everyone and anyone could pull off.

We told Tony we were a little early for our 8PM reservation. Good, he replied, this will give you the opportunity to enjoy a glass of champagne at the bar. Yep, that was the plan. Charming and dashing, Mr. Foreman is one of those enviable people who is perfectly suited to do what he does.

We sat at a table at the end of the bar and ordered a bottle of Bollinger NV Champagne. The bar has large windows facing the street which allow you to watch the arrival of lots of limos and a Rolls Royce or two. We were next to a table of elderly folks having a rather animated discussion about the Ravens. One of the gents was a real styler - decked out in a double breasted cornflower blue linen jacket with white buttons over a white shirt, white slacks and very bright white shoes. Rock on, baby boy.

The new interior is nearly unrecognizable. The space is all dark wood, walls bathed in hues of chocolate and banquettes upholstered in apricot. A huge improvement over the old interior, imho, but still a bit conservative for my taste.

As we walked through the restaurant to our table, the most significant change in my mind was that much less of the kitchen is visible to the dining room. Happily, we were seated close to the kitchen and sdc had a seat with a good view of the chef at work, much to his delight.

The menu has also been revamped. There are six categories - hot, cool, the season, fish & shellfish, birds & game and meats. Three courses are $64, four $78 and five $90. The servings are smallish. It is not an inexpensive evening. Mr. Charming approached our table and made much appreciated wine and food suggestions. We decided it would be wise to follow his advice and ordered a '99 Laurent Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru to be followed by a '97 Bovio Barolo.

The amuse was a heavenly light green chilled pea soup with tiny bits of rabbit confit. Gorgeous, smooth and fresh.

My first course was gulf shrimp with andouille, tasso and grits. This is one of my favorites at Charleston, something I have a hard time not choosing. Two perfect shrimp (heads off this time)with a small dice of the slightly spicy sausage, salty ham and a small serving of the creamy, hardy grits. Sdc choose a pheasant, rabbit and foie gras terrine with green tomato chutney. The star of the show, however, sat in front of husband. He had what Tony described as the "breakfast of champions," pan seared foie gras with quail eggs and a chicken reduction. As gorgeous as engorged liver can get, it was served with two tiny eggs in a slice of toast.

Next up for me was lamb carpaccio. I hadn't planned to order this but was quickly convinced when Tony said that it would make an excellent match with our first wine. Paper thin slices of slightly chilled bright red lamb with deep green mint, light green al dente flageolets and whisps of a shaved hard cheese - romano, I think. Perfect. Sdc enjoyed the crabcake with silver queen corn, avocado and cilantro oil and husband had local beets with gala apple, mache and a small drizzle of a 50 year aged balsamic.

Grilled Chesapeake rockfish with heirloom tomatoes, nicoise olives and baby fennel was next. The fish was moist and the tomatoes were at their best. During an evening of stand out dishes, however, I found this one to be the least remarkable. Sdc had pan roasted duck breast with stone fruits. He barely looked up. Husband had pan-seared diver sea scallops with beets, walnuts, and lemon-caper brown butter.

My next course was yet another that I hadn't initially planned to order. Earlier in the evening, while talking with the Charming One, we asked what his favorite meat dish was. He told us that his wife's favorite was the braised veal shoulder but his was the pork confit. Hmmm, I love pig but pork confit sounded a bit heavy on a hot summer night. Thankfully, I came to my senses, asked myself 'wtf are you thinking?' and ordered it. The beautiful piece of pork shoulder with hoppin' John and a slice of fried green tomato was the hit of the evening. The fork tender meat was incredibly deep, rich and perfectly salty. It came together nicely with the rice, beans and tomato. Simple ingredients elevated to the sublime. The Charming One later told me that it takes the kitchen eight hours to prepare the pork. Can't say I was astonished by this bit of info, it certainly didn't taste like something you'd throw together at the last minute. Meanwhile, husband had the kobe beef tenderloin with fava beans, fingerlings and red wine reduction. He proclaimed it good but was clearly coveting my pork. Sdc had the chef's favorite, braised veal shoulder and grilled veal sweetbreads with pommes puree and lemon brown butter. He was particularly pleased with the sweetbreads.

Too full to go for both cheese and dessert and because desserts are "complimentary," we skipped cheese (and I really hate to skip cheese at Charleston)and went straight to dessert. For husband and I, it was house made ice cream with local peaches, brown sugar and sour cream. For sdc, it was a trio of creme brulee, vanilla, raspberry and espresso.

We chatted, finished our wine and sdc had an espresso. It was a truly fabulous feast marred only by a very loud mouthed woman seated near us, talking to literally anyone who would listen about a variety of excessively dull topics. And, her husband had shorts on, natch. Together they were remarkably offensive to both the eyes and ears. We collectively gave thanks that we weren't seated within talking distance.

Charleston is undoubtedly Baltimore's best restaurant and would be among top restaurants almost anywhere, imho. Thankfully, Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf know what too few restaurateurs do - Baltimoreans will open their wallets for excellence.

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Wow! I know where I want to dine when I'm next in Baltimore. Thanks for sharing, MissCindy.

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Had dinner at Charleston last night for my 4 year anniversary and I'm still basking in the afterglow. From the meal, I mean. :lol: While my review will not come close to MissCindy's superb commentary, I hope it will convince you all to try this place. It's really magnificent.

Our amuse was half a roasted purple fingerling potato with roasted red peppers and a filling that was a lot like a deviled egg. Fantastic. I love the idea of using a potato as a vessel for that filling.

My first course was from the Hot category -- Lemon Saffron Rissotto with Tomato Confit & Crisp Tomato Skins. The rissotto was really quite nice, but it was the tomato confit that made me want to take my clothes off (I have weird reactions to good food, okay?). The concentrated flavor of the tomatoes was just out of this world -- absolutely what a tomato should be.

The second course, from the Cool category, was a Napoleon of Sweet Local Beets, Gala Apples, Reggiano Cheese with Aged Balsamico. Those of you who read my review of Metropolitan in Annapolis know how I feel about beets. Well, this course was a revelation. Beautifully sweet beets layered with crisp apples, cheese and -- surprise! -- a bottom bready-layer that was similar to anise biscotti. Just unbelievable.

Alternating back to hot, the next course was Pan-Seared Diver Sea Scallops (two big ones) with Beets (again!), Walnuts & Lemon-Caper Brown Butter. This was my favorite part of the meal. The scallops were perfectly seared on the outside and the texture of the flesh inside was like velvet. The combination of beets and walnuts could not have been more perfect, and the lemon-caper brown butter pulled everything together. Truly a remarkable dish.

Back to Cold. Giant Belgium, Cherokee Brick Red, White Queen, Old German, Evergreen & Sungold Tomatoes with Fresh Chevre, Basil & Pertimali Olive Oil. What can I say about this other than the tomatoes were perfection, the Chevre superb and of course the basil and olive oil were perfect accompaniments.

Onto the Hot Meat. I wanted to get the Prime Beef Tenderloin with Cognac-Truffle Reduction with Caramelized Shiitake & Beech Mushrooms -- but my hubby had his heart set on that, so I ordered the Confit of Pork with Hoppin' John & Fried Green Tomatoes with Bourboun Sauce. Now, as you might guess based on my previous selections, I prefer lighter, fresher flavors over those that are very concentrated, heavy, beefy or gamey. That said, the confit was good, but I had difficulty finishing it because it was SO rich. I can see, though, how pork fans would swoon over this dish.

To finish off the meal with something sweet, I had the House Made Ice Cream of Local Peaches, Brown Sugar & Sour Cream. By far the best ice cream I have ever had -- it was so creamy and luxurious -- I almost didn't pick up on the flavor because the texture was so incredibly sexy.

For wine, we had Chassagne Montrachet "Vergers" M. Morey 2002 and Chateauneuf du Pape, Vieux Telegraphe 2001. Both were absolutely amazing, but the Chassagne Montrachet really bowled me over.

Our server, Bryan, was the consumate professional who was kind enough to not only bring me a copy of the evening's menu (unprompted) to take home, he had Chef Cindy Wolf sign it with a kind wish for a happy anniversary. We had the pleasure to speak to Chef Wolf for a few minutes before we left, and although she was busy, she was gracious and warm.

As MissCindy said, a meal at Charleston is not an inexpensive event, but it is truly worth every penny, especially for a special occasion. We have decided we will return every year on September 1 for our anniversary. It's that special.

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The Baltimore Business Journal reported that Tony Foreman is getting ready to open an as-yet-unnamed restaurant next to Charleston in the fall. What Tony did say is that it won't be Italian and it won't be as upscale as Charleston. I'm guessing Latin, Asian or Latin/Asian fusion... :lol:

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Saturday we met some friends from Frederick at Charleston and had a great dinner. I can see how Charleston would be considered a great restaurant instead of merely "a great restaurant for Baltimore."

One thing I really appreciated was the fact that different diners can opt for different numbers of courses, even through our table chose to be consistent. One warning I would offer is that our waitress told us that each course is "small, about half the size of a normal entree", but these platings are probably twice the size of an average tapas. I literally unbuckled my belt on the car ride home after "four" (all meals also include an amuse and a complimentary dessert) courses.

Several items on the menu have stayed the same as noted in the above reviews from two years ago, but many items are new. The online menu is pretty comparable to what we were presented. A major difference, though, is that "The Season" menu featured black (I think) truffles in all six dishes. None of us opted for the truffle dishes, but of the dishes that I had, the following I would describe as "excellent" (starting with my favorite to "least" favorite): shrimp and grits, fried oysters, lobster bisque, grilled lamb rack chop, and pan roasted rockfish; those that were merely "very good" were the grilled tenderloin and a salmon tartare with creme fraiche. Service also was strong. There was one minor slip where the waitress thought my wife was "sitting out" a course when she had actually ordered the same number as the rest of us; however, she promply corrected the error and had her shrimp and grits in front of her well before the rest were done eating. Not that she need to, but she ingratiated herself to me when I told her that I was torn between the chocolate torte and the pine nut cake and she told me, "I'll bring both. No one should be forced to choose between desserts."

Charleston is well worth the trip up 95.

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Anyone been recently?

I went in October. It's still an amazing experience. We ordered from the cheese tray for the first time, and it's unbelievably expensive if you're calculating a per pound price for the cheese. But it's amazing cheese, and the food just makes it great fun to sit there.

I'm also always amazed at how the people are enthusiastic without being stuffy. We asked about the cheeses (because you might as well if you're paying that much), and you could tell that the guy just loved the cheeses. He described their flavors. He made some suggestions. 99 of 100 cheese experts would sound ridiculous, but Charleston folks just sound enthusiastic, which makes the meal even more fun.

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My wife and I had a very enjoyable meal there on Christmas Eve. The staff is top notch, the space is top notch and the food is very good. I forgot that they have free complimentary valet (d'oh!), too. And next time we will go for the cheese cart, it looked fabulous. I had fried oysters, a snail and garlic puff pastry thing, sweetbreads (yum!) and duck. My wife had their lobster bisque, which was stunning, a nice salad, tuna tartare (kind of a dud) and some rockfish with crispy skin. Oh and two different takes on chocolate desserts. Still recommended.

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I was there a couple of months ago and really enjoyed myself, as did everyone in my party of six. I appreciated that the whole table didn't have to order the same number of courses. I ordered five courses with wine pairings, and others ordered four courses. We sat near the open kitchen, which was interesting. This place runs like a well-oiled machine. The service was impeccable. Cindy Wolf made the rounds in the dining room and chatted with our table for a minute, which impressed me on a busy Saturday night. I wish I remembered more details of what I ate. I do remember I ended up with a lot of seafood including the shrimp and grits and a lobster bisque. I wish I'd had room for the cheese cart, which looked amazing and I looooove cheese.

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On ‎7‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 10:14 PM, Pool Boy said:

Anyone been recently? Been looking for a reason to go again.

Go again.  I have always had great meals here and have never heard anything less then stellar.  Not just a Baltimore gem but an DMV/East coast gem.

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Going Friday!  Perhaps the toughest decision is wine pairing vs a bottle or two.  I'll be taking an Uber from Annapolis, while not cheap, is prudent given that I'll already be starting our anniversary off with Billecart Salmon Champagne before we leave the house.:)

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30 minutes ago, MarkS said:

Going Friday!  Perhaps the toughest decision is wine pairing vs a bottle or two.  I'll be taking an Uber from Annapolis, while not cheap, is prudent given that I'll already be starting our anniversary off with Billecart Salmon Champagne before we leave the house.:)

You can also stay at the Sagamore Pendry.  😁

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3 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

You can also stay at the Sagamore Pendry.  😁

It is Booked, no rooms available.  But then I give up my backyard view.

 

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1 hour ago, Ericandblueboy said:

You can also stay at the Sagamore Pendry.  😁

@Ericandblueboybeat me to it. I was going to recommend the Ivy Hotel. It's a hidden oasis in the heart of Mount Vernon. I had dinner at Magdelena a few months back, and for future visits I will certainly indulge and check into the Ivy. 

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Charleston could be the best restaurant in Maryland and on of the top in this region.  We dined there Friday night and it was spectacular.  Amazing attention to detail, service was on point and the food, wine and presentation were all world class.  Cindy Wolf, executive chef, was there as quarterback and expediter making sure every plate that left the kitchen was as she envisioned.

Started off with a glass of Sancerre while allowing a bottle of 2012 Chateau Canon to breathe.  Great wine service, all proper stemware with a Sommelier who was both engaging, attentive and informative.

We each had 4 courses.  Possibly could have done with 3 as dessert is included.  No room for the Cheese course though the cart looked lovely with a selection of 12 cheeses

I started off with the Lobster Curry Soup.  Amazing

Followed with a sublime crab flan.  Amazing

Alaskan Cod with lemon and Onion beignets.  Spicy, very interesting. Yummy

Veal Tenderloin.  Matched perfectly with the last two glasses of Bordeaux.

Dessert- Chocolate Pot De Crème.  perfect

Very nice place with great space between table.  They actually iron the tablecloths when changing them out, as well as give you a fresh linen each time you get up.  Though no enforced dress code, everyone was dressed up.   This is special dining.

Cindy Wolf has been a Beard runner up several times.  She should win. This is great dining. If you haven't been, go.

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On 7/12/2018 at 10:14 PM, Pool Boy said:

Anyone been recently? Been looking for a reason to go again.

Charleston is certainly one of the top restuarants not only Baltimore, but the Greater Mid Atlantic. Chef Wolf has been at this for over 2 decades. I hope that this year, being that women are kicking up dust, 2019 will be the year for Wolf to be crowned Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. 

How does this happen? Chatter. Especially buzz that is generated on a forum like ours. With that being said, I would like personally invite members to join me for dinner at Charleston. I have been in contact with the events person.  What  would be the preference ? Private DR or in the main. The price will be approximately $125/++ per person food only, then a supplement if you opt for wine pairings. I will be planning this to take place in the month of Feb. I'll create a survey to see what day of the week works best, if you can’t make this one, there will be others. Consider this the Inaugural DR. Supper Club. I’d like this do be an intimate group, so I'm gonna cap attendance at 10 ppl/  max. 

We used to have great events. No reason we can’t have that again. 2019& moving forward, I’d like to revive the ”In real Time” happenings of this forum. I can’t do this all alone. I’m gonna need help from each & everyone of you. 

I'll follow up with deets in the Events forum. I promise these will be fun, and delicious, but best of all, we’ll do what we do best. We will engage, in real time about our dinner. In the new  year,   I hope to revive the  DR dinners.

Cruise Director, 

kat

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18 hours ago, curiouskitkatt said:

Charleston is certainly one of the top restuarants not only Baltimore, but the Greater Mid Atlantic. Chef Wolf has been at this for over 2 decades. I hope that this year, being that women are kicking up dust, 2019 will be the year for Wolf to be crowned Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. 

How does this happen? Chatter. Especially buzz that is generated on a forum like ours. With that being said, I would like personally invite members to join me for dinner at Charleston. I have been in contact with the events person.  What  would be the preference ? Private DR or in the main. The price will be approximately $125/++ per person food only, then a supplement if you opt for wine pairings. I will be planning this to take place in the month of Feb. I'll create a survey to see what day of the week works best, if you can’t make this one, there will be others. Consider this the Inaugural DR. Supper Club. I’d like this do be an intimate group, so I'm gonna cap attendance at 10 ppl/  max. 

We used to have great events. No reason we can’t have that again. 2019& moving forward, I’d like to revive the ”In real Time” happenings of this forum. I can’t do this all alone. I’m gonna need help from each & everyone of you. 

I'll follow up with deets in the Events forum. I promise these will be fun, and delicious, but best of all, we’ll do what we do best. We will engage, in real time about our dinner. In the new  year,   I hope to revive the  DR dinners.

Cruise Director, 

kat

Kat,

My February is a bit crazy right now on the trial schedule, but could you keep me on the list for the event/other events.  I am certainly interested in attending some if the timing can hit right.

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