The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun June 11'

Last Baltimore Meals, Part 2

Last month you were asked about last meals in Baltimore. We wondered, what would yours be?

It wasn't an idle question. A Dining@Large reader was preparing to leave Baltimore and wanted your suggestions. You gave them. You can read those comments here.

Now, it's really time for the reader to leave for San Francisco.

Here is an account of the reader's last meals in Baltimore, which are being published in two parts. Part one is here.

Thanks so much for this contribution. I hope I speak for everyone in Baltimore when I wish you a happy marriage and the best of fortune in your new city. Stay in touch!

Meal#3: Baltimore’s Finest
I had been to Cindy Wolf’s Charleston once before for my parents 25th wedding anniversary a few years ago. My parents don’t drink alcohol and wanted to celebrate at the best restaurant in town but thought they should at least bring someone along who might enjoy the wine pairings and I happily obliged. This time my in-laws took us for my husband’s birthday and also as a prelude to our wedding weekend. It is still unquestioningly the best meal in Baltimore.

We started off the evening with a drink at the beautiful bar and were served a couple of crackers with a fine tasso ham mousse. Probably one of the classiest and best salty nibbles to go with a drink I’ve ever had. We then moved to our table in the elegant wine room and proceeded to indulge ourselves with nothing less than perfection from Cindy Wolf. We started with a little tasting plate with a lovely and salty salmon and caper salad, some kind of puff that I’m sorry I don’t remember that well, and a cornmeal fried oyster, so buttery and melt in your mouth delicious I wish that the oysters had been on the full menu because I could have gone for a whole plate.

I started with the rich lobster curry soup, presented beautifully with delicate pieces of lobster plated in the center of the bowl surrounded by drizzles of the arugula and curry oils with the lobster stock reduction then poured over top of the lobster tableside to complete the dish. I had remembered being told that Chef Wolf’s soups were a work of art in the past and this was no exception. Every bite was slightly different with the way the oils mixed into the soup but all wonderful nonetheless.

Next up for me was the cornmeal fried softshell crab. I made everyone order them and we all cleaned our plates. This dish is simple softshell crab perfection. If you go and it is still on the menu (I know the week is over) please order it, you will not regret it. After the crab, I had wanted to try the foie gras but since I’ve had one not so great foie gras experience before I opted to have it paired with a grilled magret of duck as opposed to the foie gras alone. While the duck and accompanying mushroom fricassee was good, I really should have gotten the whole foie gras dish as the piece of it in the duck dish was truly excellent.

I wrapped up the meal with a grilled Gunpowder Farm buffalo tenderloin accompanied by a creamy polenta, oyster mushrooms, and crispy shallots, yet again another rich and satisfying dish. My in-laws and husband covered a good range of the menu with their selections as well and absolutely everything was enjoyed. Dessert for me was a white chocolate strawberry dome with a little bit of a balsamic drizzle on the side. I loved this combination. We also got an accompanying plate of small candies and pastries, the best of which was a macaron.

I could go on and on about the food at Charleston, but I should also mention the service as well. Foreman-Wolf really knows what they are doing with service. What’s so great about it is that even though it’s such a well-regarded fine dining establishment, there is absolutely nothing snobby about the service. Everyone is warm and friendly, they are thoughtful when offering suggestions without being pushy, and plates are served and cleared from tables in such organized fashion it’s really an amazing to sit back and pay attention to all the careful thought they put into those details.

I will say though that the highlight of service for the night was when my father-in-law ordered port to go with his cheese. The server delivering the port ended up in conversation with us talking about our upcoming move to San Francisco. He actually offered restaurant recommendations in San Francisco for us and somehow managed to hit on lots of different things that excited me about the city that I want to explore there (a great banh mi for example). It was wonderful and I think really sums up about how I feel about Charleston. It’s a place where you go to have an experience in eating and everything about that experience is absolutely the best Baltimore has to offer.