John Cullen with Marty Shayt
We haven’t been to Café Hon in a long time, so we talked four friends into joining us in order to discover what difference the recent Chef Gordon Ramsay makeover had on the restaurant. (The Café Hon Kitchen Nightmares episode aired February 24.)
In honor of the 30th anniversary of its opening, the Rusty Scupper invited us to a complementary dinner. We hadn't dined here in a very long time, but the main restaurant dining room on the second floor with a mix of tables and booths under a rustic beamed ceiling felt much as we remembered. We were seated next to the windows and discovered that the original, memorable view of downtown and the Inner Harbor now included awesome views of the new Harbor East area as well. (Some tables which are three to four rows back from the windows have a more obstructed view.)
The original Charles Village Pub (not to be confused with its namesake in Towson) is a small, noisy, old-time sports pub with a narrow space filled by a long bar with 20 stools on one side and lined with booths along the other. The walls above the booths are filled with Baltimore sports photos; the booths fit at most four people and there are no tables. On the floor along the bar, the finish has been worn away after 30 years of bar stools pushing back and forth. The only nods to modernity are a half dozen LCD TV's providing views of sports events. The unpretentious realness of the place combined with a mix of hunky Hopkins students, middle age straight couples, and 70+ year-old customers gave us a feeling similar to putting on some favorite old shoes.
We wanted to treat a friend to a birthday dinner, and she selected the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pikesville. Though situated in a modern business office complex, the five dining rooms have a posh traditional feel with lots of dark wood, muted colors and tables decked out in heavy white linens spaced nicely part. While we're used to upscale restaurants, Ruth's Chris' menu prices raised our eyebrows. With most entrées priced $35 to $50 (and vegetables at $8 or more not included), the menu induced acute sticker shock. (There are no prices on their online menu nor does the actual menu provide the weight for the pricey steaks.) Starter soups and side salads ranged from $8 to $11 and a handful of appetizers ranged from $13 to $18.
The new Ruby Buffet in Towson stands out among a growing number of Asian buffet restaurants that have sprung up around Baltimore in regard to both its style and quality of its food.
Strolling along Broadway in Fell's Point, you could easily pass by Alexander's Tavern without realizing the opportunities to try some tasty food in the pleasant space adjacent to the bar. The large dining room is light and airy with large French doors along the sidewalk, with 18 tables and some great 100-year-old photographs of Baltimore on the walls. A warm and friendly waitress greeted us as soon as we walked in and made us feel immediately welcome.
The Grandview Penthouse opened in September of 2011 taking over the space left by the unexpected closing of the Dizz Grandview. Perched on the top floor of a 15-story seniors apartment building in Hampden, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room provide an incredible unobstructed 180+ degree view of Baltimore. At night, the sea of city lights can be magical. During the day, looking out over the city and spotting landmarks that can be miles away is compelling!
Salt, "a New American Tavern," occupies a renovated townhouse barely two blocks from the Pagoda in Patterson Park. The entrance (actually on Collington Avenue) separates a long bar with a few tables from a small dining room with about 10 tables. Overhead, clusters of contemporary large lighting fixtures that glow an otherworldly green stand out from tall ceilings against exposed brick walls and polished wood floors.
After another great year of dining out in and around Baltimore, and sharing their experiences with us, reviewers John and Marty compiled their 2011 Golden Eleven Awards. These awards highlight some of their most notable experiences of 2011.