Monday, February 27, 2012

Ten Ten - Review

Ten Ten - Dude Grade: B+
1010 Fleet Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 244-6867

Restaurant number two chosen by Charissa and Bruce and it was another delicious choice. More comfort food done extremely well which is always right up my alley. Ten Ten is definitely another highly recommended place by this dude.

Our Menu
Crab Cake Sandwich (special) **
We were wanting some crab cake on this trip and bummed that it wasn't on the menu, but we were quite lucky that crab cakes were on the daily specials. This thing was perfect in my opinion - tons of large lump crab that was incredibly sweet and fresh. Crispy on the outside, light and not weighed down by an abundance of bread crumbs. Duck fat fries were pretty friggin awesome also - huge potato flavor and delicious with the crisp herbs.

Local Greens Salad *
Sultans, carrots, butternut squash, spiced pistachios, honey-balsamic-tarragon vinaigrette

This was the last restaurant for us over the long weekend, so I was in need of leafy vegetables as we basically had none on this trip. This totally hit the spot - bright and crunchy and interesting enough with the different textures.

Grilled Shrimp and Grits ***
Maple braised greens, crispy pork belly, organic three cheese poblano grits

I like shrimp and grits, but this was a wtf dish for me since I was not expecting much from it. More delicious than the shrimp and grits I've had in South Carolina. Grits were incredibly flavorful and great texture (a little tighter than a risotto). The shrimp was perfectly cooked as well - nice smokey char flavor and sweet/juicy.

Date Ice Cream, Tangerine Vanilla Sorbet, Red Beet Sorbet **
Beet sorbet doesn't sound good, but it's delicious - huge beet flavor and only naturally sweet - not pumped up with sugar. The tangerine vanilla brought me back to my childhood with a creamiscle like thing going on. Even the date ice cream was a standout with an almost caramelly thing going on due to the dates.

Gingerbread Sponge Cake *
Brandied Tangerines, Butterscotch Custard, Crunchy Praline

A fun combo especially with the butter scotch custard and pralines.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (B+) – Excellent food with the only minus point being the risotto my wife had was a little too solid for my liking.
  • Service (C) – Server was relatively new, so she forgot the specials and was sometimes slow to come around in the beginning. She did much better throughout the meal and the food comes out quickly.
  • Atmosphere (B) – Walking into the back of what looks like an entrance to a condo, you walk into this wine bar looking area. There's brick wall, wood floors, and an exposed ceiling to give you that urban wine bar feel - relatively dark in there also. We were there on a Sunday night at 7pm and all tables were taken with couples both young and older.
  • Price (A) – I did the three course menu (since the items I wanted were on there any way) for $32 - an incredible steal for the quality of food they're cooking there. Prices off the regular menu are around $22-23 per entree.
Closing Comments
Definitely highly recommended by this dude. Another place I wouldn't mind going back to visit.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

B Bistro - Review

B Bistro - Dude Grade: B+ (Brunch)
1501 Bolton Street
Baltimore, MD 21217
Phone: (410) 383-8600

The wife and I decided to make a trip down to DC / Baltimore to see some good friends we haven't seen in a while. One group of friends, Charissa and Bruce, outdid themselves with two great restaurant picks - one being B Bistro. This is a nice cozy joint that does some very solid cooking. Like - if this was in NYC, I would include this in our rotation of restaurants to revisit. Excellent stuff and great times as always with Charissa and Bruce.

Our Menu
Rabbit liver pâté **
housemade marmalade, pickles, grilled bread.

This was pretty damn delicious - light, fluffy, creamy, smooth, and really rich flavor. This coulda been chicken liver though, since it tastes pretty much the same. Still damn delicious with the marmalade and the crispy grilled bread.

Crispy pork belly **
fried egg, Enrique’s tomatillo sauce.

Food porn overload for me - bright and acidic tomatillo sauce, rich silky egg yolks, and crispy melt in your mouth pork belly. Even the fries were spot on - loaded with potato flavor, perfectly seasoned and nice and crispy.

Sorbet **
Meyer Lemon, Grapefruit, Blood Orange

After all the rich food, we wanted a great palate cleanser and this was spot on delicious. Great texture and bursting with citrus flavor - favorite being the blood orange. Also, loved how this wasn't too sweet either.

Pot De Creme *

Good chocolate flavor, light, and almost fudgey in texture.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (B+) – They're really doing some great things here and next time I'm back in Baltimore I would love to check out their dinner menu. Everything seems right up my alley.
  • Service (B+) – Server was friendly and offered up some good suggestions. Food came out at a good pace.
  • Atmosphere (B) – A cozy place that seats maybe around 30-40 people. Nice and bright with tall ceilings. We got there around 11ish with reservations on a Sunday and all the tables were already full.
  • Price (B) – Prices were very reasonable, average was around $12-16 and based on the quality of the food it was totally worth it.
Closing Comments
I wasn't expecting much since there's soooo many bistros out there, but I was extremely happy how good it was and like I said - if this was in NYC, I would definitely be a repeat visitor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stir Fried Noodles

The wife loves her some noodles and stir fried beef, so I decided to whip up some quick stir fried beef noodles.

Some Notes:
1) I did a pseudo Italian style job on the noodles. Cooked it till 1-2 minutes before it was fully finished (still chawky), rinsed it in cold water, and then boiled it in the finishing liquid so the noodle absorbs the sauce. You still get a nice chew to the noodle this way and the noodles get uber flavorful absorbing the sauce.

2) Sauce was meaty, a little sweet, and a little sour which was friggin delicious. Oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soba tsuyu, sesame oil, and a tiny dash of black vinegar.

3) Used skirt steak which turned out phenomenal. Seared on both sides, then cut thinly across the grain and finished in the sauce. You get huuuuge beef flavor which you normally don't get with stir fried beef noodles. I also dug the texture of the beef as well - tender enough, but a pleasant chew.

4) I added some sliced snowpeas which added some crunch, sweetness, and color. Pretty damn addicting.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl 2012

I had some people over for the Super Bowl (great game) so I decided to rock an Italian American meal. There were three families over with kids so I figured it would make plenty of sense. Good times and pretty damn fun food.

Our Menu
Garlic Bread
Parmiggiano-Reggiano, Olive Oil, Butter, Garlic, Chicken Skin and Parsley
I love chicken skin and this abomination confirmed my belief that chicken skin is delicious on just about anything. The surprising thing was one of the kids was a huge fan of this - definitely a future foodie.

Mutz and Smoked Mutz Salad with Onions and Roasted Peppers
A classic deli combo in salad form.

Sunday Ragu
St Louis Pork Ribs, Chicken Thighs, Chuck Steak, Meatballs
Cooked the ribs, chuck steak in my standard braise for 3 1/2 hours. Throw in the chicken the last 45 minutes. Meatballs cooked in the oven and added to the sauce in the last 20 minutes. Skim the fat and top with extra virgin olive oil and parsley. Everything turns out so damn delicious but the pork ribs were mind blowing - huge flavor and uber tender.

Fettuccine in Sunday Sauce
Tossed the pasta in the sunday sauce above. The key is to reduce down the sauce even more and toss in any reserved tomato juices to brighten up the sauce at the end. Pretty damn fun.

Knife Sharpening

It's pretty important to keep your knives sharp at all times. Not only
does a sharp knife enhance your knife skills and ultimately
presentation, a dull knife is one of the most dangerous tools in the
A knife that doesn't perform to expectations can slide off course and
cause sever injury.

Remember to periodically sharpen your kitchen knives and if you don't
know how, take it in to a specialist. They charge on average $10 a
blade. A small price to pay for finger or two.