Thursday, April 01, 2010

Baltimore's 50 Best Restaurants

The issue of Baltimore Magazine that features their list of Baltimore's 50 Best Restaurants is usually my favorite issue. It's always interesting to see if any new joints have made it onto the hallowed list of old favorites, and with the closing of Ixia and The Brass Elephant in 2009, there are at least two spots available for some new places to sneak in.

This year, as last, Baltimore Mag ranked the restaurants. Charleston, of course, came in as number one. In fact, Cindy Wolf and husband Tony Foreman have four restaurants in the top 12. Not too shabby, and I will probably have to agree with Pazo and Petit Louis. But my one experience at Charleston left me feeling that the place was highly overrated and I have not been offered any free meals there to make me change my mind. Obviously I am the only one who doesn't think Cindy Wolf is some sort of culinary goddess, huh?

I was happy to see our neighborhood joint, Crush, on the list, but feel it deserves better than #33. I've had  more consistently good food there than at the #12-ranked Petit Louis. I also think Della Notte deserves better than the 38th position; everything I have ever eaten there has been excellent. And who can top a giant tree in the center of the restaurant for ambiance?

I'm also going to have to disagree with Gertrudes, ranked at 39. We had dinner there a few weeks ago, and have eaten there in the past, and none of the meals would elevate the place to a "best of" anything list. In our most recent dining experience, the food was decent enough, but the service was lousy. Not that we weren't promptly served, water glasses refilled, etc., but it was sloppy. Servers reached across the table to place plates, didn't know who ordered what, and made us wait for clean silverware after our second course was served (I suspect they wanted us to lick our app utensils clean and use them again for the entrée). For a place with such snazzy decor, I expect impeccable service. It is not, after all, a diner.

Tio Pepe, at 40, obviously serves much better food when it's not Restaurant Week.

And Roy's is ranked at 49? You're kidding, right? The food is always well-executed, service is nearly perfect - formal, but always friendly, the ambiance makes me feel warm and happy no matter what time of year we visit, and the prices are not stratospheric. Why this place isn't in the top 20, I don't know.

Places on the list I'd like to visit eventually: The Brewer's Art, Chameleon Cafe, Mari Luna Latin Grill, Woodberry Kitchen, Jack's Bistro, Peter's Inn. I suppose these omissions from my list of Places in Which I Have Dined makes me a bad local foodie, but sometimes the budget only allows for a burger at the Nautilus. Perhaps Mr Minx and I should make it a point to try at least a couple of these places in 2010.

Do you agree with all of the places on the list? Which local restaurants do you feel should be included? How about ethnic restaurants other than Italian or Latin?