Just to give some current feedback on three very different places I have gone to recently.
Charleston: I was surprised to have a very marginal experience there. Got a very lukewarm welcome from hostess and maitre d'. Service was fine, although I get annoyed when people put their hands on the table or on the back of my chair. It's a bit of an invasion of space, y'know? I had specified a romantic table as it was our anniversary and was assured that we would get one. When we got there we were seated at a large, impersonal table in the middle of a dining room with bright light shining down on it. I asked the hostess if we could get a smaller, cozier table, and she said she would check with the manager. After about 10 minutes she said we could either sit in the bar area or have a cozy two top in the same room we were in which had nothing on it for the rest of the night. I wondered why we didn't get seated there in the first place? I understand that tables cannot be guaranteed, especially in a busy restaurant like this, but it just seemed careless (my request had been written into their electronic seating system - I saw it when I "checked in").
Food was a mixed bag. Apps were interesting and very well executed (she had shrimp and grits, I had some seared scallops which can be easily messed up). Both salads came out partially frozen, as did those of the table next to ours (overheard them complaining to each other). I guess my gut feeling is that if you are paying that much for a salad course, it should be freshly made and not produced from a refrigerator (which apparently wasn't working too well). Boo.
Entrees were very nice. I had a filet mignon which was cooked perfectly to order and had very flavorful -and- tender beef. The side of a sort of hash of purple potatoes and peppers was sublime. My wife had a pork dish that didn't drive her crazy, but was good. Skipped dessert for the cheese cart, which was amazing. Our server bought us some Taylor Fladgate 10 year old as it was our anniversary (it was appreciated).
Filled up, it was time to go. Our server was very polite, asked if we needed a cab, etc. The maitre d' was less enthusiastic about us. After spending several minutes helping a group of blue-suited businessmen into their coats and being very obsequious, he glanced at us, handed us out coats and walked into the bar area without a word of thanks or good night. FWIW, we were not dressed poorly by any means.
I guess the long and short of it is that nothing that happened to us would be a mortal sin in a "regular" restaurant, but I thought that considering our check size we could have been treated a little better, and not been served frozen salads.
Eichenkranz: Stopped into this place on a whim as we were in Highlandtown for a film festival. I have to say I was disappointed. The highlight of the meal was the pickled herring appetizer, and that was more for sentimental reasons. Sausages and Schnitzels were grossly overcooked, and the sides were inedible. So far, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Hagerstown, MD are the only places in the US where I have had really good German food.
Carolina's: This place on N Broadway bills itself as Tex/Mex, but I was pleasantly surprised to find some pretty decent Northern Mexican and Salvadoran stuff as well. My wife had Tacos Al Carbon and I had Tacos Al Pastor, which were essentially the same, although they added more onions and some pineapple to the Al Pastor. Very lively and popular with the growing Latino population of Upper Fells Point. Licensed, so you can wash it all down with some Negra Modelo. Not my favorite place amongst Fells Point Mexican/Salvadoran eateries, but worth a trip back.
There you have it!