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Top ten over-rated restaurants in Baltimore

How about if I narrow my criticisms to only crab houses actually within Baltimore City limits?
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Apr 15, 2011
cheflarryj in Washington DC & Baltimore

Top ten over-rated restaurants in Baltimore

Last I heard, Edward Kim has gone corporate and was at the Westin BWI. Soigne's owner, Lisa Heckman opened and still runs Iggies in Mt. Vernon. I appreciate your comments, however I believe the locally harvested blue crab was sweeter and meatier than what we currently see from the Gulf. Perhaps that's a function of shipping or freshness?

Apr 15, 2011
cheflarryj in Washington DC & Baltimore

Top ten over-rated restaurants in Baltimore

Of course you're correct regarding Chameleon's location, my mistake, but regardless of their origin, and despite their obvious efforts, I still stand by my comments. I'm actually B-more born and bred, and those east-side crab houses that you refer to are, sadly, long gone. And as to Matthew's, its not the pedigree that I question, or their popularity, but rather the quality. Longevity is no substitute.

Apr 14, 2011
cheflarryj in Washington DC & Baltimore

Top ten over-rated restaurants in Baltimore

or would that be the bottom ten? Anyway...

10. Chameleon Cafe: The very nice and earnest people that operate this not very charming spot on York Road should be commended for sticking it out in a tough setting, but their aims exceeds their grasp. They specialize in an ambitious yet poorly executed faux-French menu accompanied by a amateurish yet affordable wine list. The good news is you'll never be totally disappointed because every one is just so darn nice.

9. Matthew's Pizzeria: Oops! Not really a restaurant (according to B-more Mag, pizzerias are NOT restaurants) Matthew's has been serving not very good pizza in a rundown space since 1948. But at least it's been consistent over the years.

8. Black Olive: Maybe a Greek restaurant, or a seafood restaurant, or a Greek seafood restaurant, their stunningly high prices for really very average food places them squarely on the list. Their very pretentious wine list adds insult to injury.

7. All local crabhouses: C'mon, B-more, this is supposed to be what you're about! Instead, we are typically offered over-priced, over-cooked, over-Old Bay'd blue crabs from the Gulf of Mexico. But, hey, don't forget the undercooked fries and waterlogged corn-on-the-cob!

6. Sotta Sopra: A jewel of a space, Sotta Sopra continues to pull in the crowds for no apparent reason. Is it the rot-gut liquor poured into top shelf bottles? The pounded pork masquerading as veal? Or the charming, and welcoming Eastern European staff that charms all despite their utter lack of skill and knowledge. Tutto bene, eh Ricardo?

5. Corks: having passed their tenth anniversary, and undergoing a facelift, Cork's looks no different and continues to plod along, offering substandard fare, inept service and over-the-hill wines by the glass. "Chef" Jerry Pelegrino still spends more time in others' restaurants than his own, which frankly, is probably a good thing.

4. Woodberry Kitchen: Although quite possibly the most attractive restaurant in the city, Woodberry's pale impression of the farm-to-table concept leaves much to be desired. The menu is confusing and not so much poorly executed as boringly so. The crowds overwhelming the space seem to have far more enthusiasm for the food than the cooks. Great bartenders, however.

3. Brewer's Art: Lodged in what could be a stunning old brownstone, the poor housekeeping of the space echoes the mediocrity of the restaurant. Worn and tarnished ideas indifferently offered by too-cool-for-school staff is the hallmark of Brewer's Art. A case in point; the self-proclaimed famous rosemary fries are mostly served cold because as one employee explained, 'we serve a shitload and only have one fryer'. Maybe buy another?

2. Jack's Bistro: Weirdly quirky food ideas that seldom taste good are the backbone of this restaurant. It also bills itself as 'where the chef's go'. Really? Who? A show of hands, maybe?

1. Kali's Court: Overwrought, loud, and really bad, this Fell's Point destination has been packing them in for years despite is stunning indifference to quality. Does anyone go there twice? I mean, other than masochists? It has all the nauseating slickness of a mid-priced chain as it pretends to offer signature fine dining. Not.

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Black Olive
814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

Apr 14, 2011
cheflarryj in Washington DC & Baltimore

Chicken or Egg? [moved from DC & Baltimore board]

What came first, bad restaurants or bad restaurant reviewers?
It seems that Baltimore has a plethora of both! This month's (April 2011) Baltimore Mag review of Alchemy is prime example of a reviewer who both knows little about food and expresses it poorly. To whit: the roasted heirloom beet salad was not 'deconstructed', as described, it was merely a beet salad. And the Ciao Bella Tahitian vanilla gelato didn't come from the restaurant in Little Italy of the same name, but from the gelato company in Brooklyn. And finally, trashing two entrees (Chicken and dumplings and Pecan-crusted lamb chops) and then dismissing that as insignificant is frankly absurd. Why mention it at all if the restaurant is 'mostly terrific'?

But the most poorly written reviews by far can be found in the City Paper. Trying to establish cred by dropping food terms isn't working; its apparent that you've never set foot in a professional kitchen. And the claim you don't review restaurants' where you're 'known' didn't stop you from reviewing Bluegrass, did it? And finally, why another review of the Red Fish/Meridian/Tangiers/Hollywood location? It sure seems that the public hasn't supported any of those recent operations; why continue beating that particular horse?

As B-more strives to raise the standards on its restaurants, how about if B-more media follows suit and raises the standards on its reviewers?

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Ciao Bella
236 S. High Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

Little Italy Restaurant
6920 Bradlick Shopping Ctr, Annandale, VA 22003

Apr 07, 2011
cheflarryj in Food Media & News