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Dining in Baltimore

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The 'rents have decided now is the time to celebrate some auspicious happenings, and are taking my sister and I to dinner in Baltimore on their tab. Now, we've already done Pazo and loved it, but I'd like to try something else. Unfortunately, OpenTable isn't being much help, so I'm turning to DR.com. The restrictions:

Must serve booze

If sushi, must have sushi alternatives

Unique, seasonal cuisine preferred but not required

Cost, $200 max for four

(edited to add my parents are willing to pay more, but I think it would be rude)

Thoughts, anyone? How's the Helmand nowadays? That could be an appropriate choice, considering...


Edited by Kanishka
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At that price point, Pazo is the best game in town, imho, but here are a few alternatives that I would consider.

The Brewer’s Art remains one of my favorite places in town. I haven’t actually sat down at a table in the dining room there in a long time so I can’t really comment on the more formal (but still casual) dining experience there. But, I eat and drink there frequently, normally in the bar. We order from the lite fare as well as the dining room menu and are usually pleased. There are occasional failures. If you drink enough of their fabulous house brewed beers, however, it really won’t matter.

I also like Henninger’s. Casual tavern that turns out straight forward food. I love the fried oysters in a pernod cream sauce appetizer and the tuna with coriander and pepper entree. The place is quintessentially Baltimore. Homemade desserts.

I don’t know what side of town your folks are on, but the Chameleon Café is a nice, neighborhood place off the beaten path on Harford Road. They are closing sometime soon for remodeling, so a call is in order. If you go, don’t miss the house made charcuterie.

If it ever cools off a bit, the Ambassador Dining Room serves above average Indian food and features the city’s prettiest outdoor dining. And, the dining room inside is pretty as well, in a Tudor-ish kind of way.

And, there is always Petit Louis in Roland Park.

As for the Helmand, I haven’t been in quite a while so I can’t give you a recent report. But, I still think of it as reliable. I have heard rumblings that service there is swift to the point of feeling rushed but it has always been somewhat snappy.

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I would highly recommend Mama's on the Half Shell. Excellent seafood at reasonable prices. BBQ'd oysters, scallops and softshells over fired green tomatoes were all winners when we ate there.

Pazo, is good but has had inconsistencies lately. Last time I was there I was served a white wine from Campania (the name escapes me) that was not chilled in the least. When I informed the server of this, she told me that "people in the Mediterranean drink there whites warmer and reds colder." Well I know this wine was not supposed to be served at the same temperature as a California cab.

Brewers Art is also very nice, great selection of house beers and good food to match. I noticed that Chef Ravi has left and that his #2 guy is running the kitchen now. I am sure the place won't skip a beat though.

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Brewers Art is also very nice, great selection of house beers and good food to match.  I noticed that Chef Ravi has left and that his #2 guy is running the kitchen now. I am sure the place won't skip a beat though.

My recommendation for the family is Samos - best Greek in town, best grilled lambchops too. But call first to make sure they aren't closed for their family vacation.

Brewers Art's dining room a couple of weeks ago had gone downhill. The service was excruciatingly slow. I didn't know at the time that there had been a change in the kitchen. Maybe that's why. And if you eat in the bar or the adjacent lounge area, expect a serious amount of cigarette smoke with your meal. It's still got awesome brew.

Edited by crackers
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We have tentative plans to meet halfway with some Delaware relatives on Feb 2nd---the potential number of diners could be a minimum of 11--I'm guessing we'll try to meet for lunch or an early dinner. Any suggestions on where to dine with a large group? There will be grandparents, parents and children (not sure how young) with a couple of difficult diners in the bunch, so variety would be great. Although that earlier mention of the best Greek restaurant does intrigue me--Samos I think it was. Can they accommodate a crowd?

To summarize--easy to get to and park, not too expensive, for large group--any recs? :(

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