We chose this restaurant because the Chinese cuisine in Baltimore is quite disappointing and we read glowing reviews online. It is a bit outside the Baltimore area (25 miles from my apartment), but close enough that we're willing to make the journey when the mood for Chinese strikes.
They have two menus: typical Americanized Chinese food, and traditional Chinese food and we selected from both. We ordered tea, the Grace Garden Shrimp, Crispy Beef, and Crispy Eggplant. We chose the meat dishes first and assumed there would be little to no vegetables cooked with the dish, ordered the Crispy Eggplant for a vegetable dish. You know what they say about 'assume' and we definitely made the wrong assumption. The shrimp came with a nice portion of steamed broccoli and the beef had a nice mix of shredded celery and carrots.
And now for my self-important, opinionated itemization:
The tea - I'm not a huge tea fan, but I liked this. Very fragrant with a nice flowery aroma and flavor; a good drink on a cold night.
Crispy Beef - This dish is a definite classic of American Chinese food and my fiancée’s favorite by far. This is a must-have whenever we have a chance to dine Chinese. I know it's a common favorite among Chinese food fanatics, but please indulge one who loves to hear his own opinion (or at least the gratifying clicking noises of the keyboard as I share my opinion). I love the crispy texture of the beef and the sweet flavor of the Szechuan sauce. The shredded celery and carrots give nice, flavorful filler, along with the rice to help sop up the remaining sauce on your plate. I know it's not an adventurous selection, but if it's good, it's good, regardless of how pedestrian it may be.
Grace Garden Shrimp - We were both happy with this selection as well. The shrimp were good sized (as shrimp go) and well-battered. I've had enough over-done breaded shrimp that I usually avoid it entirely, but these were cooked to perfection. The sauce was a sweet and sour ginger sauce, which was a nice alternative to the crispy beef's Szechuan and another good sauce to mop up with the rice.
Crispy Eggplant - This was technically our vegetable selection. However, it counts as a vegetable as much as those deep-fried vegetables that are peddled at county fairs and other events. However, the difference is in the quality of the preparation. Also, I noticed the website offers a picture of this dish and what was served to us did not look like what is on the photo. Those look like pan-fried slices of eggplant. What we received was battered and deep fried. Oh well, it was good, although too much for two people. If you have a family-sized dinner party, the portion is perfect. I chose this dish because o the spicy/sweet sauce and knowing that eggplant absorbs flavors, so I was gambling that a good sauce would make this dish. It did. My only reservation was that it was battered and deep-fried. I'm not saying it wasn't good, I'm saying it really made us hold back (which was for the better) since it turned out all of our selections were also breaded. These also made the best next-day left overs because the sauce completely saturated the breading overnight and, in my opinion, made it even better.
Will we go again? Definitely. Will we order the same dishes? The Crispy Beef, since that is my fiancée’s utmost favorite Chinese dish in existence. There is another vegetable dish we almost ordered instead of the eggplant, a bean dish, and I don't see it on the online menu. Next time, we plan on ordering Crispy Beef, Salt and Pepper Shrimp, and that mysterious, enigmatic bean dish.