June 23, 2008

Annabel Lee Tavern

Annabel Lee Tavern
601 S. Clinton Street
Baltimore, MD 21224

I recently had the pleasure of dining at the Annabel Lee Tavern last Saturday (6/14). This tavern used to be a little dive bar known as the Clinton Street Inn that I never bothered to check out. Once the new owners moved in and it became the Annabel Lee, friends raved about this place.

The tavern itself a bit small with a narrow walk through the bar in front. The back of the tavern opens up slightly to accommodate several tables for dining. I would guess (I didn't count) that there were probably about 6 small tables in the back? You can also dine at the bar.

The decor of the tavern lives up to it's name in that it is dedicated to Edgar Allen Poe. The walls are painted a deep burgandy with the words of Annabel Lee painted across the tavern. The mood of the bar is that of a very cozy study.

My husband and I were starving when we arrived (approximately at 9:30pm). We didn't have reservations but we had 2 very patient friends waiting at the bar for us for about 2 hours. My guess is that you should probably make a reservation if you're going to dine there on a Friday or Saturday night as the tavern was packed. The staff was very friendly and made great suggestions for meals.

We started off with the Baked Brie en Cruet (Phyllo encrusted with brown sugar and pecans) for $7.50. It was A.MAZ.ING. We commented that it seemed more like a dessert than an appetizer but that doesn't mean we won't continue to order it everytime we go back to this tavern.

My husband had also ordered the soup du jour and I can't remember for the life of me what it was. He enjoyed it very much.

For dinner I ordered the Spinach and Portabello Burrito with roasted red peppers rojo salsa ($10.75). Again, amazing. I love when a vegetarian entree isn't smothered entirely in cheese or cream sauces.

My husband ordered a fillet of meat and also enjoyed it very much. And I don't remember what my friends had ordered but they are regulars at this tavern so I can tell you right now they loved their meals.

We ended our meal with the Edgar Allen Pate. It's a tri-chocolate pate served with maderia raspberry coulis ($6.50). My only complaint? There isn't enough of it! It was delicious and it was probably a good thing that the serving was a bit small (because in actuality it was just the right amount to satisfy my craving).

Overall I would recommend this restaurant to anyone. The staff is friendly, the cuisine is fantastic and because it isn't located in the uber popular area of Canton, parking is quite easy. You can check out their menu online but they also offer different menu items daily (posted on the board behind the bar).

The only downside of my experience here was that the service was a bit on the slow side but my friends assured me that it was only due to the high volume of traffic. Regardless, if you're in the neighborhood - check this place out!

June 10, 2008

The Black Olive

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

I had been dying to try out this restaurant for a long time. It is located in Fell's Point along one of the cobblestone roads that make driving it a pain in the ass but look very pretty. Being a vegetarian makes going out to eat a little difficult because it's hard to find a restaurant that offers a palate of vegetarian options outside of a salad.

I met up with a group of friends (there were 5 total). We had a reservation at 6pm on a Sunday evening and were surprised to find the restaurant quite empty. A few friends waited at the bar for us and mentioned that their drink choices were fabulous (one had an organic white wine and the other an organic beer (Pinkus).

We were promptly seated at a table near a window. The inside of this restaurant reminds me of an old stone cottage. I'm not quite sure how to explain it. The windows were arched and had old vases in them. And the chairs were cushioned! I know it sounds ridiculous to compliment a chair but it was very comfortable.

The waitress was friendly and happily answered all of our menu questions. She also mentioned that if we wanted fish, we could take a look at them? As a non-fish eater I didn't quite understand this but I guess if you're a fish-eating connoisseur, this is a big deal.

They brought out some bread for the table with olive oil. The bread was amazing! Very dense, almost cake-like and delicious.

My husband and I split an appetizer of the village pie upon the waitress's recommendation. The village pie consists of spinach, red swiss chard, leeks, sheep’s milk cheeses in a homemade phyllo. Very greek and very delicious.

I ordered the "vegetarian special of the day" which consisted of grilled mushrooms, green peppers, onions, zucchini on a kabab with some roasted beets, hummus and an eggplant dip on the side. Very good although not really worth $28. I think I'm used to equating high cost with big quantity or perhaps a more exotic flavor. Like I said though, it was very good.

Amongst my friends, they ordered free range prime beef tenderloin grand filet ($38), Grilled yellow fin tuna steak, sushi quality ($29), the Black Olive Special Grill ($34) that consisted of Lobster, octopus, clams, sardines, scampi, shrimp, mussels, calamari and scallop on the grill and the Appetizer Combination ($20) that consisted of A beautiful plate of our four traditional spreads: tarama, tzatziki, melitzanasalata and hummus, with olives and feta cheese.

Everyone was very satisfied with their meal and the waitress kept up stocked with breads and beverages.

For dessert, my husband and I tried the Rein de Saba ($9). It's description sold us:
Flourless chocolate cake made with Belgian chocolate, roasted ground hazelnuts
and a rich ganache frosting, lush beyond belief.

I don't quite know what "lush beyond belief" really means but the cake was very good. Very chocolate-y although not quite as creamy as cakes made WITH flour (I'm guessing that was the difference?).

My friend sampled the pear tarte tartin ($9) and seemed to enjoy it as well.

Overall I would highly recommend this restaurant. Make reservations though because it seems to fill up! Halfway through our dinner we noticed quite a large crowd filling up the restaurant. They offer a large variety of food and boast organic ingredients.