By some miracle and/or stroke of dumb luck, I've made it to 30. I celebrated two weekends ago, bowling with lots of friends, but my actual birthday was Sunday. For various reasons, I've had a phenomenally shitty month, so I figured that even though this past weekend would be more low-key than the last, there was only one real way to celebrate.
That's right. I ate my fucking face off all goddamn weekend, visiting two old favorites and a new one. Baltimore is known for its seafood, but honestly, there are some really great restaurants of all varieties these days, and I'm on that shit like white on rice. So next time you come to visit me in Baltimore, here's where we'll go (and don't let your fingers get close to my mouth).
A few of my friends took me out Saturday night to one of my favorite spots in my neighborhood of Canton. The Fork & Wrench calls itself a "boutique dive bar," but it couldn't be further from a dive bar. It's a super cool little place with delicious handcrafted cocktails, a seasonal menu, and fun, retro-looking (like 1920s style) rooms. It's cozy, there are no TVs, and the service is impeccable.
My friends and I dined on shrimp and grits + pork belly, mahi mahi with artichokes and potato salad, and for dessert, they brought me a bacon fat brownie drowning in Resurrection (a local beer) ice cream sprinkled with bacon crumbles and crushed pretzels. Hello mouthgasm.
If you live in Baltimore and you know me, you know I travel (the whopping 10 minutes) to Federal Hill for almost nothing. It's fully of fratty fucking bros, and getting a parking ticket is inevitable (if you can manage to even find a spot). I hate it. I really do. That said, I have to admit, there's some good eating to be done in that hood. So I had heard good things about a new little spot called Liv2Eat, and even though I was skeptical about the "2," I met two friends there for brunch on Sunday.
And I was really glad I did. Liv2Eat is a family-run spot with a charmingly quaint interior, awesomely weird paintings on the walls, and a really sweet patio space that will be super cool in the summer. I ate an exception crabcake eggs benedict (and I have high standards for these), and for dessert, they brought out warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies (baked to order) with milk. YAS and please.
Tio Pepe's is basically a Baltimore institution. It's been around since 1968, and like many Baltimore families, it's my family's go-to special occasion spot. The old-school, potential fire hazard basement restaurant is always packed and always phenomenal. The cuisine is Spanish; I don't know how authentic it is or isn't, but I do know it's delicious and worth every penny (and costs a lot of those).
I'm pretty ambivalent about turning 30, but I was happy to use it for an excuse to eat at Tio's. And eat we did. Shrimp in garlic sauce, escargot in something amazingly buttery, beef tournedos in sherry sauce with mushrooms, rockfish smothered in lump crabmeat. SO GOOD (and so many leftovers). They brought me a slice of their signature pinenut roll for dessert -- kind of like a giant gourmet Ho Ho with cake rolled around a crazy yummy custard and covered with toasted pinenuts. I of course had to also get sorbet because where else can you get sorbet inside of the fruit from whence it came?!?! (Apparently BJ's, but whatever). That lemon has a hat! Much tasty.
Happy birthday to me.