my (restaurant) week in review

There are so many fantastic restaurants in this city - everywhere I look there is some adorable little establishment, and every day I hear about a great dinner someone just had. While we have our fair share of neighborhood bars and pokey restaurants, there are also a good number of higher end restaurants around town. As you probably have guessed by now, I really enjoy cooking so I don't end up going out that much to eat. But restaurant week is my favorite time to go try out all those pricey, time-to-dress-up, splurgey, what-does-that-ingredient-even-mean-? kinda places. And this time around, I've tried out a few, so I restaurant week in review!

Cinghiale - Pronounced chin-gah-lay and meaning wild boar, I've wanted to try this place ever since coming back from Italy having enjoyed a pasta boasting it's namesake meat. With a friend back in town to visit from New York, I was proud to show off this gorgeous 1950's inspired new restaurant as one of our own here in Baltimore. First of all, it's stunning to behold - all mahogany and leather, with sweeping windows and perfect lighting. You feel important and cool and classy, but not in the least but intimidated. Then there's the wine list, which is a thousand miles long and ranges from a $6 glass to a $2200 bottle...surely you'll find something to please! From the restaurant week menu, I enjoyed the tomato-porcini soup, braised short ribs and a panna cotta and coffee for dessert. All of it was amazingly delicious, the service was fantastic, and the ambiance was just right for a leisurely dinner with friends. A+

Ullswater Restaurant and Bar - A big group of my favorite girls from my neighborhood and I decided to venture to a new place outside of our zip code (for a change) and slogged across town in the snow to Locust Point to Ullswater on Fort Avenue. Martinis and wine kept the atmosphere lively, and hearty portions of delicious food let us share each others' fare. I tried a scrumptuoussashimi tuna and avocado appetizer, which was perfectly complimented by the "vegetarian nirvana" entree (coconut-jasmine scented black rice, chili-miso tempeh, shiitakes, vegetables and curry sauce all wrapped in a banana leaf). To finish it off on a sweet note, I indulged in a lovely tiramisu. While service was a touch slow, we were in a group of 11, and our waitress even comped our after-dinner drinks to make up for it. B+

Kali's Court - This was the perfect place for a romantic dinner, especially with snow falling on Fells Point's cobble stone streets and the gas lights blazing outside. Inside, Kali's was all deep reds and rich wood tones, given a feeling of a true respite for luxury in a deep mid-winter storm. N and I were a few minutes early, so we sat at the beautiful bar for a pre-dinner drink - a pear martini for me and a beer for him. Once seated, we were attentively served by a lovely waiter who was always there when you needed him but never hovering. Between us we loved a tuna tartar and crab and artichoke philo appetizer, delicious bouillabaisse and mahi mahi as entrees and a dessert sampler (especially loved the kataifi!). Walking out of the restaurant full and happy and into the snowy courtyard felt like the end to a perfect movie. A+

Black Olive - To mix it up, Jess and I decided to check out a restaurant week lunch together. Since her office is in Harbor East and mine in Canton, we picked The Black Olive right in the middle in Fells Point. What a cute restaurant with lovely fresh food! In fact, Black Olive uses fresh fish from around the world as well as local organic ingredients from farms such as One Straw Farm (check out past CSA posts I've written). Delicious fresh bread with seasoned olive oil helped us settle in to our table by the window. While Jess had the greek village salad to start, I sampled the greek spreads platter. For our main course, I had a lovely grilled fish fillet with couscous and Jess had shrimp scorip (shrimp, feta, herbs and orzo). We finished up with a rich chocolate mousse for Jess and berries with greek yogurt and honey for me. All in all it was a nice, fresh and filling lunch that didn't leave us feeling stuffed. My only gripe was that it was a touch on the slow side for a lunch hour (we were there about an hour and a half), BUT our served recognized me from last year's Home Tour! Think I talked him in to coming again this year, too :) A-

So there you have my reviews - I hope they are helpful and at least offer food for though (or thought for food...) for some new places to try out when a special occassion or the next restaurant week comes along! Where did YOU go for restaurant week? What are you favorite places to go for a nice night out?

love k

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