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Eat Feature

Upscale Comfort Food

Frank Hamilton
Annabel Lee Tavern
Christopher Myers
Clementine

Eat Special Issue 2009

Cool Comfort EAT: City Paper's annual dining guide

Barbecue and Pit Andy Nelson's Barbecue 11007 York Road, Cockeysville, (410) 527-1226, andynelsonsbbq.com, $-$$ Whe...

Breakfast Blue Moon Café 1621 Aliceanna St., (410) 522-3940, $ For years, Blue Moon has been saving t...

Cafés Atwater's Belvedere Square Market, 529 E. Belvedere Ave., (410) 323-2396; 1425 Clarkview Road, Suit...

Caribbean Judy's Island Grill and Bake Shop 5216 Park Heights Ave., (410) 367-0272, judysislandgrill.com, $-$...

Chinese Grace Garden Chinese Restaurant 1690 Annapolis Road, Odenton, (410) 672-3581, gracegardenchinese.co...

Classic American Burke's Restaurant and Café 36 Light St., (410) 752-4189, burkescafe.com, $$-$$$ Burke's is n...

Contemporary American Abacrombie Fine Food and Accommodations 58 W. Biddle St., (410) 837-3630, abacrombie.net, $$$ Cork...

Delis Attman's Authentic New York Delicatessen 1019 E. Lombard St., (410) 563-2666, attmansdeli.com, $ N...

Diners Jimmy's Restaurant 801 S. Broadway, (410) 327-3273, $ A cornerstone of Fells Point, Jimmy's slings ...

Eclectic Golden West Café 1105 W. 36th St., (410) 889-8891, goldenwestcafe.com, $-$$ Baltimore has ple...

Ethiopian Dukem #2 1100 Maryland Ave., (410) 385-0318, dukemrestaurant.com, $-$$ Luckily, pretty much the on...

French Bonaparte Breads 903 S. Ann St., (410) 342-4000, $ This Fells Point bakery boasts a surprisingly e...

Hawaiian Roy's 720 Aliceanna St., (410) 659-0099, roysrestaurant.com, $$$ With so many fabulous local resta...

Indian and Nepalese Akbar 823 N. Charles St., (410) 539-0944, akbar-restaurant.com, $$ Akbar has the feel of a secret ...

Irish James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant 616 S. President St., (410) 727-5107, thejamesjoycepub.com, $$...

Italian Aldo's 306 S. High St., (410) 727-0700, aldositaly.com, $$$ "Sophisticated" and Little Italy don't...

Japanese Aloha Sushi 1218 N. Charles St., (443) 759-8531, $-$$ Everything about Aloha Sushi is just right...

Korean Joung Kak 18 W. 20th St., (410) 837-5231, $$ Its partisans will tell you this is the best Korean r...

Latin Arcos Restaurant and Bar 129 S. Broadway, (410) 522-4777, arcosrestaurante.com, $$ Because there's...

Mediterranean Black Olive 814 S. Bond St., (410) 276-7141, theblackolive.com, $$-$$$ Fells Point Greek restauran...

Middle Eastern Amer's Café 7624 Belair Road, Belair Beltway Plaza, Nottingham, (410) 668-5100, amerscafe.com,...

Pizza Angelo's Carry-Out 3600 Keswick Road, (410) 235-2595, angeloshampden.com, $ Best pizza in Hampden ...

Pub Grub Curb Shoppe Bar and Grill 5736 Falls Road, (410) 433-8299, curbshoppe.com, $ This neighborhood pub...

Russian Vernisage 1004 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, (410) 484-7701, $$-$$$ With its glass chandeliers an...

Seafood Blue Sea Grill 614 Water St., (410) 837-7300, blueseagrill.com, $$$ A daily selection of "Fresh ...

Southern Charleston 1000 Lancaster St., (410) 332-7373, charlestonrestaurant.com, $$$ Somewhere along the l...

Spanish Pazo 1425 Aliceanna St., (410) 534-7296, pazorestaurant.com, $$$ If you don't leave Pazo a little ...

Thai Ban Thai 340 N. Charles St., (410) 727-7971, banthai.us, $$ Ban Thai is our favorite place to eave...

Upscale Comfort Food Ale Mary's 1939 Fleet St., (410) 276-2044, alemarys.com, $$ Kudos to Ale Mary's for celebrating th...

Vegetarian Liquid Earth 1626 Aliceanna St., (410) 276-6606, liquidearth.com, $$ We've appreciated the vegetar...

Vietnamese Baltimore Pho 1114 Hollins St., (410) 752-4746, baltimorepho.com, $$ Despite the downtrodden local...

Eat 2009

Posted 3/4/2009

Ale Mary's

1939 Fleet St., (410) 276-2044, alemarys.com, $$

Kudos to Ale Mary's for celebrating that most inexplicably underexposed member of the potato side-dish family, the tater tot. Here you can get tots as an appetizer or alongside any of the ponderous well-crafted sandwiches in various states of loaded-ness--topped with cheese, extra-tasty bacon, or even crab meat, with ranch dressing for dipping. Pure genius. The menu ranges from bar food standards to more ambitious entrées, produced in an impossibly small kitchen, which can make for extended waits, but hey, that's what the beer is for.

Annabel Lee Tavern

601 S. Clinton St., (410) 522-2929, annabelleetavern.com, $$

Upscale comfort food has made a big mark on Baltimore's restaurant scene in recent years and Annabel Lee's offerings, which include duck-fat fries and Kobe beef sliders, are particularly tasty. This small bar-restaurant near Patterson Park has the ambiance of the late 19th-century and takes its theme from the Poe poem of the same name. Still, the wine-colored interior projects an inviting, not Gothic, air. On any given night the specials menu features interesting items like pan-seared scallops at reasonable prices, and the bar has the relaxed feel of a neighborhood hangout.

Clementine

5402 Harford Road, (410) 444-1497, bmoreclementine.com, $$-$$$

Butter pickles and escargot. Charcuterie and meatloaf. There are damn few restaurants in Baltimore that so ably bridge the city's rising culinary ambition and its down-home roots as new NoEBo favorite Clementine. There's plenty comfy about the unpretentious storefront, and no menu as liberally fond of mashed potatoes, grits, and bacon as this one, is ever going to get too high-flown, but Chef Winston Blick elevates homey cuisine with artfully chosen compliments and maximum flavor. An awesome breakfast and lunch spot that also offers a dinner experience worth savoring--can't lose.

Corks

1026 S. Charles St., (410) 752-3810, corksrestaurant.com, $$-$$$

Corks renovated in September and the result is a cooler contemporary space with a larger, more affordable menu (the restaurant's hours have also expanded). Some new dishes are playful, like the merguez corn dog made with lamb sausage and served with popcorn, but all are high-quality takes on homey favorites (witness multiple grilled cheese offerings, from a gorgonzola/radicchio/balsamic syrup combination to Humboldt Fog and pear on white). Larger entrees are still available, as is Corks' well-maintained, American-focused wine list.

Henninger's Tavern

1812 Bank St., (410) 342-2172, henningerstavern.com, $$$

There's something homey and unchanging about Henninger's snug dining room even after so many years. (Can it really be 20 or so?) The menu hasn't changed much with mainstays like Portuguese fisherman's stew bursting with shellfish and linguica sausage, plump crab cakes, and Pernod-spiked oysters. The final tab always seems to be higher than you expect it to be, but such is the price of Baltimore charm these days.

Jack's Bistro

3123 Elliott St., (410) 878-6542, jacksbistro.net, $$

Discussions with customers about Pop Rocks in the fish are rare at most bistros. But at Jack's, run-ins with less-adventurous palates is par for the course. Thankfully, the fish with the ingredient that may have killed Mikey has been rotated off the menu. The kitchen's daring, however, still includes oddities like the much-discussed mac 'n' cheese and chocolate appetizer and the sous vide lobster and shrimp "hotdog." If you still miss all the fizzy popping, the vodka-infused bubble tea and champagne-based Fritz are heavenly cocktails. Despite the quirks, Jack's is really less about gimmicky food than reliably delicious dishes.

SoBo Café

6 W. Cross St., (410) 752-1518, sobocafe.com, $$

The staple menu items here are the upscale comfort-food selections, like the thick and dense mac 'n' cheese, the chicken pot pie, or the strip steak. But the menu, which changes daily, also features a variety of specials ranging from pan-seared duck breast to Thai noodle dishes to seafood specials. There's nothing fancy about Sobo--the ambience is bright, clean, and cheery, and the prices are reasonable for the quality (and quantity) of the food the kitchen dishes up, which makes it the perfect spot for a midweek dinner with friends.

Three . . .

2901 E. Baltimore St., (410) 327-3333, threebythepark.com, $$-$$$

Featuring rustic classics treated to a "New American" overhaul and Mediterranean-influenced comfort foods, the seasonally changing menu at Three . . . is quite compact, listing but a handful of small plates and entrées that nonetheless please with focused, layered flavoring and the use of quality, sometimes locally sourced ingredients. Homemade desserts tend to be fantastic, and the homemade potato chips are magically thin and crisp, while the service, though generally friendly, could use some polish.

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