I had posted a request about a month ago for suggestion for a first time visitor to Baltimore. I had mentioned that my wife and I are pretty adventurous and open to any fun suggestions. We had a great time and it was all due to the wonderful suggestions from this board. So thank you again and here's where my wife and I ate and our impressions.
We stayed at Hyatt in the inner harbor and walked to most every place. The first night we walked to Henninger's Tavern. The walk over at nine in the evening was interesting. Being the middle of the week it was dark and deserted most of the way. It was a longer walk than we expected and much colder. Henninger's glowing in the dark was a welcome sight. We gladly stumbled in and felt immediately comfortable. The decor and mood of the place was right up our alley. For apps, we had the crab soup and crab cakes. The soup was rich but I thought a touch oily. The cakes were moist and flavorful. For entrees I had the scallops and she had the house smoked short ribs. The scallops were good but I thought the fingerling potatoes and sides were only average. My wife thought the ribs were very flavorful but the smoky flavor was somewhat faint. Overall we loved the place and thought the food was fine. Definitely the kind of place where I would enjoy hanging out and having a drink with friends.
The next day for brunch we went to Faidley's. Those crab cakes lived up to their reputation! I only wish I had thought of ordering one broiled to compare. We ordered two of the jumbo lump, fried oysters and cream of crab soup. I topped off everything with a half a dozen oysters from the raw bar.
Martick's for dinner that night was an adventure. It was definitely an experience as promised. We had gone to the museum for the day and knew it was near. Although we weren't quite ready for dinner, we thought we'd walk by and see where it was located so we could find it later in the dark easier. We walked right past it in the dusk. I was standing befuddled on the corner wondering how I missed a restaurant. As I was turning around in confusion, I barely read the washed out sign in the fading light. Since we weren't aware of the procedures for the place we thought they were closed. Thank goodness for cell phones! Standing outside, we decided to call to find out what was going on. The phone call felt like an Abbot and Costello routine. We asked what time are you open? The reply was what time did you want to come here? We asked if we needed reservations and the reply was how many in your party. The conversation proceeded in the vein for a while. We were highly amused. Later that evening we drove back and was still very amused standing in the dark and the cold ringing the doorbell. We got an absolute kick out of the snakeskin wallpaper and the entire interior. For appetizers we split the pate and some garlic bread. I liked the texture of the pate but wished I had something besides the crackers which was served with it. We both had the sweet potato soup and thought it was one of the best things we've ever had. Rich and creamy with the sweetness of the potato just right. She had the veal marsala and I had the roast duck. Both dishes were executed well and we were very happy.
Afterwards we went to the Explorer's lounge for a nightcap and enjoyed the piano player. Thank you again for that suggestion.
The following day we met some friends and walked over to Fell's point. We lunched at John Steven's. We had the shrimp for appetizers and I thought it was only average. I had the soft shell crab sandwich and my wife had the crab cake. Her sandwich was a touch dry but she found it flavorful. I thought mine was a little greasy but nothing I couldn't handle. Overall we liked the place and thought it was another fun place to for hanging out and having a drink.
Dinner that night was the Helmand. This was the only place that turned out to be a little dissapointing. Maybe it was because we had high expectations after hearing about their reputation. Coupled with how all the suggestions from this board had already turned out so well, we thought this place would be just fantastic. Unfortunately it was only an average experience at best.
The service and pacing felt off right from the beginning. We were seated the same time as this couple next to us so we had something to compare against. Although we had the same waiter as the couple next to us, they had their order taken swiftly and bread delivered to them right away. We waited quite a while before the waiter even approached us and took our order. We figured it was busy and just shrugged it off and resumed talking.
We were chatting away and all of a sudden realized that it had been a while and we hadn't received our bread and the couple next to us had already finished their appetizers. Their plates were cleared and they waited for their entree. I was about to say something but the runner showed up with our appetizers. This was very good. We had the pumpkin with yogurt and the ravioli. The pumpkin flavor was brought out very well by the yogurt. The ravioli and sauce was very flavorful. But we weren't quite finished with both dishes and the runner showed up with our entrees and just stood there watching us, waiting for us to finish our appetizers. He then signaled another server, who came and whisked our plates away. It felt like he was ready to put the plates on top of us. I had a lamb and mushroom stew that was on special that day. The flavors were good butI found the lamb both mushy and stringy. My wife had the lamb stew that was listed on the menu. Her meat was fine.
They cleared our table and there was another long wait between our dessert order and the delivery. I only ordered the turkish coffee, while my wife had the fruit with the custard. The custard was very smooth and creamy and the fruits were very fresh. A good dessert.
Although parts of the meal were fine, the overall experience wasn't great. Maybe we just caught them on an off night. But it was annoying to see people next to us getting better service and pacing.
We had to leave early the next day and sadly I couldn't sneak in one more visit to Faidley's for a crab cake breakfast.
Thanks again to everyone for the suggestions. Baltimore is a lovely city with great eats. The food sure helped make our trip memorable.