Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Houlihan's, Inner Harbor

I live within walking distance of the inner harbor, but a lot of the restaurants there I had either tried before we moved here or I haven't been very interested in trying.  I had been to a Houlihan's a long time ago and really didn't remember anything about it, but we decided to give it a try and see if it was a new option for us.  Unfortunately, we were very disappointed.

First off, it was incredibly crowded, but we expected that because of the location.  We were still seated right away, in a back corner next to a large party (always awkward).  Then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  It must have been 20 minutes before a server came over to us and we had long waits for our food and the check.  

I got the Farmhouse Club, "Brown sugar and honey cured ham, mesquite smoked turkey breast, thick sliced bacon, basil pesto aioli and buttery gouda on whole-grain bread. Topped with spring mix and juicy tomatoes."  For such a beautiful description, the product was awful.  The flavors didn't blend well and nothing tasted fresh.  G got a burger, which he said was okay, but not great.  He also got buffalo chicken fingers, which were maybe the best thing that we had. 

The price was okay for the level of restaurant that Houlihan's falls into, but for the quality and the horrible service, it was definitely not worth it.

Houlihan's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mary Mervis, Downtown

I have been noticing that the shrimp have been disappearing from the local grocery stores and restaurants since the Gulf oil disaster began.  Even when you can find shrimp, they're pretty expensive for what you get.  Nonetheless, I really wanted to try the shrimp salad sandwich at Mary Mervis in Lexington Market the other day, so I went for it even though there were signs saying that the prices have been raised.

The line was really long and hard to maneuver.  I think I ended up waiting about half an hour to order because that counter was so busy.  But it was well worth the wait.  I got shrimp salad on a kaiser roll and it was the best shrimp salad that I have ever had.  The shrimp were big and plump.  There was a perfect amount of Old Bay and other seasonings.  And the mayonaisse wasn't overwhelming.  Plus the roll was really perfect for the sandwich.  I ate the whole thing in silence because it was so delicious.  I highly recommend giving them a try, but don't go when you're in a hurry!

Mary Mervis on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

G & A Restaurant, Highlandtown

This has been such a hot, hot summer already.  Especially hot since we're following a ridiculously snowy winter!  Usually I love to be outside and exploring during the spring and summer, but this has been brutal!  During one of the first bad weekends that we had, we headed over to the Greek festival.  The food and entertainment there was amazing!  The sweaty walk from Harbor East to Greektown was not.  The good thing about these little walks that we take is that we always end up passing restaurants that we've been wanting to try.  On this outing, we passed G & A Restaurant.

You might know G & A from seeing it on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  That's where we first heard about it.  They're known for their Coney Island hot dogs and sliders, as well as for being around for a long, long time (since 1927, to be exact).  So even after filling up on souvlaki, baklava, and loukoumades, we decided to stop in to G & A on the way back just for a little bite.

The restaurant is really more of a diner than anything else.  The owner is really friendly and so is the staff and I noticed that the place was immaculate, which is not always the case with the diner types.  We each got a G & A hot dog and split some fries.  The dogs came in the standard Coney Island fashion; chili, onions, and mustard.  They were really yummy and perfect for a big snack.  Plus they're only $2 each!  The fries were also really good and fresh cut.  Next time I think I'll get gravy on them, because it looked awesome.  And there will be a next time, but we probably won't be walking again.

G & A Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Atwater's and Sugarbaker's, Catonsville

Catonsville is a very cute area and I had no idea that it has so many awesome food options.  I had to head over there recently for some errands and got to walk around and check out the sights afterward.  I was very excited to see that two places that I had been excited to try were right in front of me.

My first stop was to Atwater's.  I was so happy to see the woman there stocking the freshly made soups and people in the back making delicious-smelling breads.  There were so many choices and I was interested in almost everything, but I decided to pick up a container of gazpacho and a loaf of raisin pumpernickel bread.  The gazpacho tasted so fresh and bright.  I loved all of the flavors that stood out in it and the lightness of the overall soup.  I wish I had some more right now!  The bread was also amazing and I had it for breakfast for quite a few days.  It wasn't too sweet, but the raisins gave it a really nice flavor.  I saw some in the Atwater's in Annapolis about a week ago and I was very tempted to buy it again!

Atwater's on Urbanspoon

Then I headed over to Sugarbaker's, which is in a beautiful old building.  The people there were very pleasant and helpful, but I had my eye on the prize: their Smith Island Cake.  I love Smith Island Cake when it's good, but it seems like a lot of bakeries make it too dry.  This is supposed to be one of the best places in Baltimore to get it, plus it's made with peanut butter cups in the icing!  It took serious willpower to wait until after dinner to eat it, but it was well worth the wait.  The cake is not dry at all and is just as spongy and moist as any cake should be, despite the thin layers.  The icing is amazing and surprisingly not too rich with all of the chocolaty peanut butter goodness.  I am eager to try more of their cakes, but I might just keep going for that one.

Sugarbaker's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Conrad's Crabs and Seafood Market, Parkville

I had a Groupon for Conrad's and I was very excited to use it.  Anytime I hear about restaurants that use their own fresh ingredients, I'm excited.  Especially when those ingredients happen to be crabs that the owners catch themselves.

G and I both decided to try jumbo lump crab cake sandwiches and we weren;t disappointed.  The crab cakes are really well made and have a good amount of crab meat and seasonings.  Not very much filler at all.  I was a little bit disappointed in the crab cake to bread ratio (huge roll!), but that's not too much to complain about.  The sandwiches also came with fries, which were seasoned with Old Bay and very tasty.  These crab cakes weren't in the same league as Faidley's or Captain's Galley, but they were still very good and I would recommend checking them out!

Conrad's Crabs & Seafood Market on Urbanspoon

Serpico Pizza and Pasta, Sparks

I don't care that Wegmans is a little bit (okay maybe a half hour at times) out of our way for weekly grocery shopping.  It's Wegmans and I love it.  Plus it's an excuse to explore the Hunt Valley area every week.  A lot of times, we will get dinner before we shop, but the options are starting to get thinner.  One of the restaurants that we decided to try was Serpico Pizza and Pasta, down the road in Sparks.  We eat pizza and subs a lot, so I was willing to see where Serpico fit in with our favorites.

Unfortunately, they just don't fit it.  Upon entering, the restaurant was very uninviting.  The staff was not approachable and seemed hassled.  There were dirty tables throughout.  I don't think they even had the dining area lights turned on.  Very strange.  G got a meatball sub and I got a chicken cheesesteak.  The meatball sub was average.  It wasn't bad, but they weren't amazing meatballs and the sauce was, again, average.  My chicken cheesesteak was bad.  The toppings did not meld together and the meat was dry.  And the taste was just off.

This led us to a conversation about whether we just ordered "the wrong things."  I can see that.  Maybe their pizza is really what they're known for and we would be blown away by it.  But if you can't make something well, then don't put it on your menu.

Serpico Pizza and Pasta on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ruben's Crepes, JFX Farmer's Market (and Federal Hill)

The one thing that I wish I could bring to the JFX Farmer's Market is a little more breakfast food options.  I am the type of person who loves breakfast and I never skip it.  On one of our first trips down there, we decided to hit up the Ruben's Crepes stand, since they seemed to have a long line and a lot of breakfast-y choices.

I loved that you could see the workers making everything right in front of you and that your crepe came to you fresh off the grill.  I got one that was a bacon, egg, and cheese and G got one that had pepperonis and mozzarella.  They were both really tasty.  The crepe serves as a nice alternative to toast or a muffin and everything tasted very fresh.  Everyone there was friendly and the food was somewhat portable for walking around the market.  I can't speak for their location in Federal Hill, but I assume that they have to be equivalent.  All in all, it's a nice place to get your fix at the Farmer's Market!

Ruben's Crepes on Urbanspoon