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Charleston. Seriously.

Really. 300 for two for dinner is a lot, you're right, but far from outrageous or even uncommon - if the food is good. I just spent far more than that at wd-50 in NY, but came away from it feeling like I had absorbed the restaurant's gestalt, not to mention innovative, well-executed, (and occasionally slightly chemically tasting) food.
The ingredients problem that I spoke of is something worse than an off-night. If the menu is written daily (as was explained by our server), why would it not be written around the fact that they obviously had no arborio rice in the kitchen? To serve that and call it risotto is an affront.
Cindy Wolf was nominated for the James Beard Award, yes, but not until almost ten years after Nancy Longo, who was (maybe) after Mark Henry. And she received negative votes!
The people that I have spoken to about this tend more to agree with me the more they know about food. The Charleston is certainly a slick operation, and maybe is a nice place to go to convince yourself that you're eating good food, when you know that that is nigh well impossible in Baltimore. Like the Oregon Grille or Milton Inn, you know?
I'll try it again someday because it gets so much love here, but I think we may all have been duped.

Jun 05, 2007
zaybot in Washington DC & Baltimore

Charleston. Seriously.

Wow. 270 dollars later for two of us, I'm still regretting that I didn't call the kitchen out for serving "risotto" made with Uncle Ben's - on two separate dishes! Or the "nicoise" olives that still had the taste of the tin can they came in. Or the sauces on some plates that you could see, but that produced no actual taste. Or countless other things - very nitpicky - like the service which may have been patient and overexplanatory in its zeal to inform, but was much more likely just condescending, or the ridiculously cold dining room - maybe there's temperature control to treat the wines (stored in the dining room) properly, but it makes for uncomfortable dining.

I went to Charleston with high expectations, I'll admit. But if you advertise yourself as the best restaurant in Baltimore and plaster your signature on the doors, menu, and even the plates, you'd better be able to withstand them.

Really, the sweetbreads, fried green tomatoes, and mascarpone mousse were shining examples of great ingredients and technique. But places like The Black Olive and Chameleon Cafe are doing that consistently across their menus in an atmosphere much more conducive to actual enjoyment of the food. Where did this place get its reputation?

Jun 04, 2007
zaybot in Washington DC & Baltimore

Annapolis Food and Bars

every single dining experience ive ever had in annapolis has been a disappointment. i dont know the city well, so i just stick to the water and eat near there - i hear there's a trendier area a little inland with some decent food. but make sure to avoid especially aqua terra and cafe normandie! we took one bite of our entrees at the latter, asked for to go boxes, and threw them in the trash as soon as we achieved a polite distance from the restaurant.

Jun 04, 2007
zaybot in Washington DC & Baltimore