202 East Pratt Street
Located @ 5th Floor of the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel
Baltimore, MD 21202
Reservations Recommended (request a window table)
I’d heard great things about this restaurant, so I’m going to chalk this up to an off season night.
We started off well, with yummy bread (the bread is an important detail that hints at the restaurant’s meal to come). But already with our appetizers, we began making excuses to each other as to why it was not up to par, unfortunately.
My companion, who enjoys crabcakes but not much other seafood, of course ordered this as it was not only a signature dish (as indicated by an asterisk on the menu), but we were in Maryland, home of the blue crab! Immediately he began pulling out hunks of shell, and I noted with dissatisfaction that this should not be. He made some comment to indicate that it was okay, to which I responded, “Any good chef knows they should pick through the meat quickly one last time- even if you’re using canned/processed- to make sure there are no shells.” This is something I’ve learned from Food Network (never having actually cooked with lump crab meat myself)- always run your fingers through it quickly because nothing ruins a meal more than having to pick shell bits out of your teeth. Yuck. So rude, too.
Of course this meant that I spent a large portion of time while eating my soup- another signature dish- pulling crab shell out of my mouth. I was thoroughly annoyed at this time, although the soup was tasty enough, the shell really upset me. On top of which, as soon as the inattentive waiter set down my soup, I raised my eyebrows and took points off for plating- there was soup slopped over the sides, though now that I look back, it must have been our waiter’s fault.
Our waiter was very frustrating; he took our order and then wandered away and did not pay attention to us at all. He wound up bringing out our appetizers before our wine, which greatly irked me, since it would have been nice to sample it before tasting the soup. He then brought us our entrees without our side dish, and didn’t even mention it. When we brought it to his attention 5 – 10 minutes later (it took us that long to get him to come over), he didn’t even apologize!
On a busy night, this is totally forgivable. The restaurant was empty with only two or three other tables (small tables, too) of people near us.
After we brought that to his attention, he disappeared and then didn’t come back at all, so finally we told a bus boy that we were done and did not want our risotto. I was disappointed since my b. had only had one experience with risotto so far (the one we made for Valentine’s Day), and I was eager for him to try a restaurant-made one.
And back to the food… oh, the food.
My b. ordered the prime rib with fingerling potatoes and bordelaise sauce. As you can see here, it looks fairly normal. However, it was chewier than bubble gum. It was thick and heavy and pretty tasteless.
Here’s a quick lesson in rib eye vs. prime rib: they are the same cut of meat, however the “prime” indicates that it is USDA Grade “Prime” meat. You are not to call your rib eye “prime rib” unless you actually use a prime cut of meat.
This was no such cut!
I had a piece and it was really disgustingly chewy. I suggested telling the waiter to change his order since it was completely unacceptable, but my sweetie did not want to cause a scene and just forced down his horsemeat.
I opted for lemon sole with lump crab meat on top. The fish was soft, and the greens were good, but the fish was really tasteless. Blander than a piece of paper. I shrugged and continued eating, and to my dismay found even more crab shells throughout the lump crab meat which had been, until having to remove the shells from my mouth, the highlight of this dish.
We were so disgusted with our food that neither of us finished our entrees and left without seeing a dessert menu. And my b. never skips dessert. And even worse- bear in mind, this comes from two people who have worked for tips in the past- we gave him the worst tip I have ever seen my b. dare to give. The waiter did not apologize once for the risotto (a simple “I’m sorry about that” would have sufficed to soothe our rage!); in fact after the bus boy relayed to him that we had requested the risotto be canceled, he came rushing out and said “How come you don’t want it anymore?” to which b. said “We’re done with our food” and the guy actually had the balls to say, “Well it’s already made, I’ll just give it to you and I won’t charge you for it, it’ll be free”- like the hell we care at this point??? Still no apology!!!
We wrote on the receipt why we gave so little tip; from the food (not the waiter’s fault) to the horrible service. Perhaps next time he will know what to do better/differently for a good tip. We certainly won’t be going back here at all. We actually wound up finishing off our bottle of wine and heading across the street to a pub (next review) for dessert. That’s how bad it was.
Yvo says: Avoid, avoid, avoid! If you really want to risk it, go on a busier night; we went on a Saturday night and the place was dead. I’m not sure why. I say busier because maybe you will get a better waiter.