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It's because most of the people who live in the Suburbs form an older demographic who seek bland, flavorless offerings. Any place that seeks to change the status quo, or add seasoning and taste to freshly prepared food, are quickly dismissed and persecuted for their extremist attitudes.

We work in Timonium, but seldom eat there. Seems like every restaurant's menu is an exact copy of one another, and god forbid if your restaurant doesn't have a crab cake on the menu, or an over-cooked, hockey puck hamburger.
You can make compromises and find places that are at least consistently average.
But I'll definitely 2nd Andy Nelson's BBQ, and you should try Umi Sake for an interesting twist on some Japanese/Korean flavors.
Of course, everyone's taste is different. I think the menu at the Still is overcooked food from Sysco, but people tell me how tasty it is, so maybe my standards are too high.
Or maybe I just expect the food that is served to me to be step-up from something I can do at home.
Is that too much to ask for?
Keep drinking

RIP McCabes

Welcome back, McCabe's.

Went there last night and I'm glad I have another neighborhood joint to walk to. Arrived around 9pm, and sat at the bar and got served a draft of Dogfish 60 Min in a frosted cold pint glass. The first sip was perfect. There was a few people there at that time, but very laid back and easy going vibe.
It looks as if they did minimum renovations, but the interior looks clean, open, and inviting. And as of right now, there is no TV (thank God), but that will unfortunately probably change. Please don't add a TV!
The menu looks very appealing with many options, but I went strictly on a mission to dive into their Springfield Farms burger. Let me tell you something: it was amazing. The meat melted on my tongue. It was topped off with gruyere cheese and a fried egg, and the toasted brioche bun made it all come together. I am very happy that it's so close to home. It came with fries, which were tasty. But, I also got a side of Mac'n'Chz, which was perfectly done, just right amount of cheese that had a nice crust on the exterior and nicely seasoned with the pasta shells.
I will be back very soon.
Keep drinking.

Blue Grass - Federal Hill

Thanks for the details, Jon.
Haven't been there yet, but I am also confused about the TVs. Why are they there? Is it really necessary to have them in the dining room?
Can't we go out for once to a place and not have every line of sight overtaken by TVs?
I'm eager to try the food, but already the ambiance doesn't sound like it's going to be calling me back.
What a shame.

Blue Grass - Federal Hill

Thanks for the info.
I'm glad they have valet. Thx for the link. The menu looks extremely tasty and adventurous, I'm looking forward to checking the place out as soon as the opening rush has quieted down a little.

Blue Grass - Federal Hill

Alright, Hounders,

We'll soon be going to this new restaurant, but wanted to check first and see if anyone can enlighten us with their experience. Since they don't have a website up and running, I can't peruse the menu, the wine list, or get a feel for the price range. Also, do they have valet parking, because parking in that area is non-existent.

Thank you in advance for any field work you can do for us.

Keep drinking.

Miguel's Cocina y Cantina: no es bueno

My wife and I took my parents to Miguel's Sunday for dinner in Silo Point. This was our first time there, we live in Hampden so it's not exactly right down the street, but after last nights experience, we don't think we'll be returning regardless.

The Bland Experience:
We were looking forward to a feast of authentic Mexican food and to wash it down with some fresh margaritas. When we arrived around 6pm, the space is nice but definitely has that industrial feel. We waited in the foyer patiently for a couple of minutes to be seated, which set the tone for the evening. There was no hostess, and when the bartender was free, he came over and seated us. There was a couple of tables already seated, but it wasn't busy.

We were given a drink menu and a dinner menu, both were filled with a tremendous array of options, and yes, we had a few questions to ask to assist us in ordering, but those questions remained unasked. There seemed to be only one server taking care of the dining room, and he was inadequate for the job. He was a nice enough kid, just too weeded to perform his job to the best of his abilities. The owner, who was in the kitchen, should've had another server on the floor with him, or at least a manager who could help out.

We started off with a round of margaritas. After a long, long wait, they finally came. I got the Tamarind Margarita, which was good, nice balance of sweet and sour, but nothing really extraordinary, and one will do, I couldn't drink anymore of these. We started off with their freshly made guacamole and a queso fundido (cheese fondue). We also ordered two different empanadas to start with as well: the carne asado (grilled skirt steak) and the picodillo (diced beef & pork).

It took a long, long time for anything to come out, but when it did, it all came out at once. All 4 of the items came to the table, as well as chips & dip, and we had to do our best to maneuver the plates to fit on the table. These are the type of plates that are the size of the table but only have a few things on them. Hard to eat when there is no room. Anyway, the guacomole was underwhelming for $12. The cheese fondue was just melted cheese, literally melted cheese.

The empanadas tasted like they were 2 days old, who knows, maybe they were made Friday and given to us on Sunday. Two Oily, hard shells swimming in a mole sauce that had a julienne salad of jicama and carrots and pumpkin seeds layered on top. The salad component was great. I couldn't decipher which empanada was which, they both tasted vaguely similar: Lacking seasoning, lacking taste.

We had to ask the server to remove the empty plates or they probably would've stayed on the table for the duration. I asked for a draft of Dos Equis, it only came after my wife reminded the server twenty minutes later. The service was definitely lacking.

Now, I ordered the Carnitas Juvencio (12-hr slow roasted pork chunks that was marinated in coca-cola with refried beans and tortilla shells) and I was very disappointed. The hard cubes of pork were not very tender, overcooked (which is weird because it's supposed to be slow cooked), and very, very bland. In fact, all of the food coming out of the kitchen needed seasoning. I barely touched my entree after a couple of bites and asked for a to-go container.

My wife and my mother both got tacos, 3 flour tortilla tacos per order, drizzled with salsa verde and mole sauce that was very watery. More bland, season-less meat that the sauce tried to mask ineffectively. The pollo tasted like rubbery Sisco chicken with no seasoning.

Dinner came to about $120 and for 4 people, that's not bad $30 a person I guess is about average, but we could've went to Fells and found something around Broadway for a lot cheaper and a lot more authentic and satisfying. I've never been impressed with the owner's, Michael Marx, establishments. Blue Agave and Rub were always over-hyped and more flash than substance. He is always harping about the real authentic cuisine he's bringing to Baltimore, when he should be focusing on the basics: food with flavor, adequate service, etc.

Why is it so hard to find a good Mexican restaurant in Baltimore?

Anyway, we finished the night back in Fells, where we got amazing gelato at Pitango. Good stuff and the highlight of the evening.

Blue Agave Restaurant
1032 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

Hampden Cafe
4800 Hampden Ln Ste 103, Bethesda, MD 20814

Sam's Kid

We have the exact same story.
Same sloooooow service, and there was only one other table besides us last time we went (we've been several times hoping they get their act together). We really like the food, but it's frustrating when my wife gets her entree first (before our apps) and then it takes 10 mins til my entree is served, and then the apps come out afterwards. Very confusing.
Of course, all while the owner is having a good time at the bar talking with friends.
We want to like the place, but ...

Affordable Italian in Baltimore?

I second Grano,
great atmosphere and tasty, rustic dishes,
but it is still relatively small, (small but charming) only 8 or 9 tables or so. If you do decide, then it is recommended to make a reservation, and bring lots of wine. The more, the merrier. Just don't get tipsy and start singing off-key Frank Sinatra out loud like the one table did the last time I was there.

Really, does a great latte exist in Baltimore?

I live in Hampden and I can't wait til Onocoffee opens his place here. I love his coffee at Spro in Towson, and from talking to him, I've found out that his training does in fact come from the mecca of coffee, Seattle. He tells me that it will be open around March 1st, snow willing.
And yes, the Lattes they make will knock your socks off.

Abercrombie in Baltimore

I have to second that.

Went to Abercrombie recently, and that chicken blew me away!!!
Probably the best chicken I've had in recent memory. So much flavor, so juicy and tender with a great crispy skin. I'm going back soon to get my fix.
You can tell the chef (Top Chef contestant Jesse Sandlin) puts a lot of love into her food. You can taste it.

But, yes, it was a bit disconcerting that it was so quiet with so many open tables. I hope more people discover this place so that it just doesn't become another casualty of the economy.

Top five Baltimore area pizza places?

Very nice report Warthog.

Went back to Joe Squared Thursday night, and damn, you're right, they've definitely have returned to their glory. Ooooo, delicious pizza. The tweeks have made a vast improvement from when they first installed their new coal-oven. The addition of the metal mesh pan, and the timing and temperature of the oven and how long they cook the crust has been perfected, and I for one am very, very happy.

Of course, I have to mention that their AC was broken when we went, and it was probably cooler outside than inside the restaurant, which makes it a little uncomfortable when you're sweating into your beer. Thursday night was extremely hot though, but still, it might be wise to keep that in mind if you're heading over to satiate that pizza-fix to call ahead and see if it's working again, otherwise...

Anyway, had a great Hawaiian pizza. Crisp, thin crust with a little char (but I like that) with fresh toppings that were seamlessly integrated. Ah, great stuff. And a great beer selection. Friendly staff. Live music. Quite an interesting place.
When the AC is working, I'll be back.

Dogwood closing?

That's a shame, especially since they took the noble cause of educating and giving ex-cons a different direction to go in, with instructing them on how to build a career in the culinary field. That effort should definitely be applauded.

We went there twice last year, once for lunch and the other for dinner, and had very well-prepared food that was fresh and tasty. But I have to agree with the above posters, just not very memorable. A place you always seem to forget is there.
I did hear a rumor that they were involved in a new venture.
Hope to see them return, as I will definitely try to support them.

blue hill tavern in canton

Wow. I was reporting on how my night was in a restaurant that has only been open a couple of weeks, not trying to make a hard evaluation, or too critical of an eye. I'm sure they have a lot of wrinkles to iron out. I will return and try them in the near future. I like the ambiance and the feel of the place and the convenience of valet parking. I believe it is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that has a plethora of corner bars with pub food. Would our food had been different if it was not served so close to kitchen closing time, possibly? I was happy with my pasta: the pappardelles noodles had a good sense of flavor without drowning in a heavy sauce, and the meat was moist and tender. I look forward to hearing about other's experiences, and see if the consistency gets better or...

blue hill tavern in canton

Went to Blue Hill late last night for dinner, and it looks like it's going to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, East of Canton, in the growing Brewer's Hill area. As soon as we pulled up outside, we were pretty impressed at how the place looked, especially with the outdoor balcony seating on the second floor. Now mind you, it was Friday night around 10 that we arrived for dinner, and the place was jumping, very lively, very noisy, with a good mix of people. The inside decor is very pretty and you can tell that there is a heavy bank account behind all the action.
Being so late and feeling like the place had already made the transition from restaurant to bar atmosphere, we got seated downstairs in the dining room with the intention of solely getting a quick entree ( the kitchen does close at 11pm, but we hate being the last ones to get seated ). The server was very nice, although at this point in the evening it was hard for us to hear each other, and she had to bend down real low to capture our order. The prices are reasonable, and we ordered a bottle of wine on their Under $25 offering for a quick and easy table red, the Campos de Luz Garnacha for $18, not too shabby. I got the wild boar pappardelle for under $20, and I thought it was well composed and delicious. My wife got the half roasted chicken, which was also around $20, which came with steamed broccoli and mac n cheese. I tasted her chicken and I thought it was fine, but all in all, kind of a boring preparation and the sides were lacking. At least the chicken still had some juice and flavor to it. My sister got the $12 burger. I don't think she was happy. It seemed like it was one of those end of the night, sloppily made items that make its way out of the kitchen past quality control. She ordered it med-rare, and it came well done. The fries seemed like they were made an hour previous. The brioche bun was burned. We were starving, and it was late, so she didn't want to complain or send it back, but it could've been done much better. Check comes = $78. Not too bad for a quick dinner for 3. Will be back to try it out again and see how the results are.

13.5 wine bar in Hampden

Went to the new wine bar in Hampden the other night.
It's been less than a week since it opened (I believe it opened last Friday night), but there was a lively crowd inside for a Tuesday night. Nice vibe and feel to the place, don't know if they're still working on the interior, but it's a modern, yet minimal feel to the design - not too comfy, yet not too cold either, if that makes any sense.
We wanted to stop in and grab a glass of wine and just relax for a little before we called it a night, so we saddled up to the bar and looked over our options. Service was very friendly and professional, but the prices might need to be adjusted, especially for the neighborhood of Hampden. First thing: Beer prices are way too high. Natty boh for $3, that's insane. Clipper City draft for $6.50, come on now. Bottle of Heineken for $4.50. Wow! Not very pretty, and doesn't inspire one to stay and down a couple.
Now, for wines by the glass: nothing really captured us for wine by the glass, especially for the price.
So, we settled for liquor. My wife got a boutique bourbon on the rocks from New York (Hudson whiskey, not sure of the name) that cost $16.50. Wow! This is Hampden, right? This isn't Dupont Circle, this isn't the Upper East side. Is my surprise unfounded, is this how much this bourbon cost everywhere?
Anyway, like I said, not to conducive for staying and drinking.
Checked out the menu, but didn't order any food, so I can't comment. Seemed like mostly just lite fare: cheese plates, salads, and such.
Might give them some time to settle in and adjust until I go back. They've only been open for a week, so maybe they're still getting their act together.
Does anyone else have any feedback yet?