Four of us went to Timothy Dean Bistro last night. Although there were a few standout dishes, there were a number of disappointments as well.
The good: My friend's smoked ribeye; my husband's excellent corn and lobster soup; my chilled pea soup with black truffles; the pumpkin breadpudding dessert.
The okay: My "yukon crusted" chilean sea bass, which was less crisp than most potato-crusted fish I've had, but the flesh was moist, accompanied by asparagus on a "parmesan emulsion" (the place is big on parmesan). My friend's (very small) portion of duck confit. The perfectly fine but unexceptional soft-shell crab appetizer.
The unfortunate: My husband's seared ahi tuna special was over-grilled tuna of the kind you've had 100 times before, accompanied by a flavorless vegetable ragout.
The inexplicable: Why would anyone accompany molten chocolate cake with black-truffle ice cream? Maybe if it were subtler, or maybe if it were accompanied by fois gras rather than chocolate cake it could have worked -- but to our table's palettes it absolutely did not.
More seriously, the wine list featured a variety of mediocre California bottles at a high markup: it ought not to be that difficult to find an acceptable pinot noir to offer for $50. The international list, at least from my perspective, was no better: uninspired and without a whole lot of a variation in the lower-priced range.
On the service: Although we liked our waiter a lot (one of us remembered him from Mezze), it took us three requests to get water, which finally arrived after our soup course; bread came two-thirds of the way through soup -- which was too bad, because the bread was good (warm rolls with, again, parmesan). The waiter blamed the busboy for the delays. When we asked for advice on the wine, the waiter fetched someone to tell us that the pinot noir went well with the steak and everything else on the menu. Entrees came at about the hour and a half point.
For four: $250.
Though I, like everyone else, want another top-tier restaurant to succeed in Baltimore, I want it to be much better than Timothy Dean Bistro currently is. Perhaps it was an off night -- it was a busy (though not inordinately so) Friday night, and I might have been better off trying it during the week -- but I do not plan to return soon.