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Monday, January 9, 2012

On the Prowl: Baltimore, MD - Part 1

I descended on Maryland this past week for a conference, giving me ample time to wine and dine around the streets of Baltimore. I honestly wasn't expecting much going into this trip; unlike it's neighbor D.C, Baltimore really hasn't gained a reputation as a place to be food-wise. Besides their infamous crab cake, I really didn't know what to expect of Charm City. Reality, however, had bigger, better ideas for this foodie.

A completely random walk around Inner Harbor brought me to TEN TEN, a new restaurant in the Baltimore area. Tucked behind a busy pizza place and down an alleyway, TEN TEN would almost be invisible if it weren't for a sign hanging out in front of the alley. Inside, however, revealed a clean, trendy restaurant serving classic bistro fare for relatively good prices. I decided to go for a couple small plates for lunch with the carrot soup and ricotta gnocchi on boursin cream with sauteed leeks. The soup was creamy and well done, but another element like homemade croutons or whatnot would have really set it over the edge and add much needed diversity for the huge bowl. The gnocchi was spot on though. A touch of lemon would have been nice, but not necessary. I would mostly definitely consider ordering it again. For a new restaurant, TEN TEN has a lot going for it I think. It's apparent that their technique is wonderful; if these small plates are any indication, this bistro will be a place to look out for as they continue to expand their menu and imaginations.

Ten Ten on Urbanspoon

James Joyce Irish Pub
Featuring everything you'd expect from an Irish pub, James Joyce is a lively place around the corner from the Waterfront Marriott and several other major hotels in the Baltimore inner harbor area. While I'm sure the fish and chips, shepherd's pie and whatnot are surefire choices from scoping out the tables around my own, it was the Guinness stew that caught my attention. Tender forks of beef in a rich beef broth piled atop mashed potatoes, it was a great dish to have on a cold Baltimore day. I like my stews a bit thicker, but it was certainly hearty enough to keep my spirits up for the rest of the day. A touch pricey, but satisfying if you are in the inner harbor area looking for a Guinness and some good pub food to wash it down.

James Joyce Irish Pub and on Urbanspoon

Patisserie Poupon
It may seem small and quaint on the outside, but Patisserie Poupon is actually a bustling French bakery tucked in the far reaches of Littly Italy. With an active kitchen of over half a dozen to a dozen bakers in the back, this patisserie seems to always be hard at work crafting high quality deserts for catering and storefront business. After pawing at the glass for far longer then I care to admit, I opted for a tart tatin, an upside-down caramel apple tart. Not too sweet, just a touch tart and surprisingly lite, it made for a really exquisite midday snack. If you are on the go, stop and order out a few of their macaroons. These sinister little cakes are only 85 cents a piece and are the stuff that dreams are made of.

Patisserie Poupon on Urbanspoon

In Part 2, we'll tackle the rest of my Baltimore trip, including a crabby etouffee, another cheesy gnocchi dish, and talk healthy with a taste of tea in the town's vegan bar.


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