While I am not a ‘foodie’, I do enjoy cooking and eating out. I have a number of cook books by Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Jill Dupleix. I know who Heston Blumenthal, Fergus Henderson, and Ferran Adrià are. And I understand why snout-to-tail eating is so popular. But I would not say I am a ‘foodie’.
For a while, I did run a blog called ‘Baltimore Restaurants‘, not many people followed it and I ran out of steam. Partly because there are so few good restaurants to review in Baltimore and I can’t keep writing about them over and over again. I may import the blog posts in to this blog, so that if I don’t find a new restaurant, I can write about something else in the meantime.
Often restaurants in Baltimore are pretty trendy, they look great and they promise so much but deliver so little. Last nights restaurant, The Reserve, was a case in point. Based down in popular Federal Hill, I had to park about half a mile away. The interior is very cool, exposed brick, great lighting and a well appointed bar. The seating in the restaurant was pretty tight, I couldn’t sit next to my wife as there was another guy sitting at the table next to ours and there wasn’t enough space for us to sit back to back. But everything about the restaurant was very promising, and the place was packed giving it a nice buzz.
The menu is full of pretentious restaurant blurb. Shaved egg anyone? I ordered ‘Petite Lamb Three Ways’, ‘Lassoed Veal Rib Chop’ and ‘Lavender Ginger Vanilla Creme Brulee’. Unfortunately, the food took an inordinate amount of time to get to us, and we were not particularly impressed with the execution.
To me, cooking anything three ways means that there will either be three different preparations of the meat, or the styles will be distinctly different. Apparently to The Reserve, three ways means three over grilled ribs on three non-events of sauces.
I am not sure the calf was lassoed for the veal rib. If it was, it must have put up a good fight and got pretty stressed out as the chop was about as tender as a steer that had been driven all the way from Texas to Maryland. It was not only tough but like the lamb three ways, it was over cooked. With good quality products like rack of lamb or veal, it doesn’t need to be cooked to destruction, especially when the customer specifically asks for it medium-rare. The first bite also matters hugely, so don’t throw a load of salt on the dish at the pass, because that is all I could taste on both the dishes.
The creme brulee was very much a redeeming feature. I really enjoyed this dish. I was wary of the lavender but it was a very delicate flavor and worked very well. They used fresh vanilla in the custard and it was really noticeable, great quality. The caramel was well done, often it is too easy to burn.
The bar selection is pretty good too. I had a nicely poured Newcastle Brown. The bar started getting a little too noisy as the night wore one, and the crowd seemed particularly young. We may give The Reserve a second chance, but probably not for a while.