M is for Meat
Prime Rib · Shula's Steakhouse · Ruth's Chris Steak House · Alonso's · The Crease · Bill Bateman's · Lenny's · Attman's · Boomerang Pub
Former Colts and Dolphins field general Don Shula coached some pretty impressive sides of beef in the NFL, so it should come as no surprise that at Shula's Steakhouse (Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, 101 W. Fayette St.,  385-6601), ex-cow rules. Hell, the 48-ounce porterhouse would cow anybody. For more, um, realistic appetites, there are plenty of other meaty options, ripe for carving in the elegant dining room or in the adjacent sports bar, where the surroundings are less sumptuous but so are the prices.
You gotta love a chop house where they work both ends of the cow. (No, not that end. Grow up.) Ruth's Chris Steak House (600 Water St.,  783-0033) takes aged, primo-quality beef and then bathes it in butter for a perfect melt-in-your-mouth/cut-it-with-a-fork/insert-cliche-here-tender slab of meat. An evening at Ruth's Chris is pure, luxurious indulgence: incredible steaks (seafood too, but that's beside the point), a 30,000-bottle wine cellar, and opulent atmosphere. Shoot, they even park your car for free. Your only worry is waddling to the table and operating the utensils.
Clausewitz's first principle: Establish a firm base. Ownership has changed and the walls are in renovation-flux, but the massive mound of meat that made Alonso's (415 W. Cold Spring Lane,  235-3433) carnivore HQ remains unmoved. If you can comfortably fit your entire fist in your mouth, you have a good shot at knocking down one of their signature burgers without requiring too many napkins.
The Preppy Handbook, a bestseller back in the '80s, recommended The Crease (523 York Road, Towson,  823-0395) for Izod-clad Baltimoreans looking for a drink and a nosh. Shetland sweaters came and went, but this downtown-Towson bar and grill remains a hot spot, thanks to the students of several nearby colleges. The Crease boasts a steakhouse menu--four different kinds of burgers, a tender New York strip steak--but the real treat is the prices, which top out at $12.95.
Ribs, burgers, cheese-steak subs--if it's meat, you'll find it sandwiched or served with fries and slaw at Bill Bateman's (7800 York Road, Towson,  296-2737; Harford and Cub Hill roads, Parkville,  665-4262). At the York Road location, near Towson University, the ambiance is strictly jock, but the Parkville Bill's has a neighborhood feel, with its chalkboard specials and porch-front dining room. Crab nachos and steamed shrimp are good bets, and the buffalo wings are practically a nation unto themselves: bay wings, jerk wings, New York-style wings, Cajun wings, wings from Barbados, wings from hell. If you want to try something called Red Ass Chili, be our guest.
Ah, old Lombard Street, where Jewish housewives flocked on Saturdays. Jack of Jack's Corned Beef stood beside the pickle barrel, one hairy arm bared for the plunge into brine as his wife, Sophie, kept a keen eye on the cash register. For a nickel you could get a coddie and a chocolate soda. Those days are good and gone, but you can still experience the glamour of deli at Lenny's ( 1150 E. Lombard St.,  327-1177) or Attman's (1019 E. Lombard St.,  563-2666). Lenny's has a more institutional feel, with its rails to keep you in line, no-nonsense servers, and army of checkout lines. At Attman's you can still enjoy some repartee with a witty counterperson, reminiscent of those verbal volleys between sharp-tongued mavens and joking meat cutters. But both pile on the brisket or corned beef, ladle up the matzo-ball soup, and slather the chopped liver. Eat in or carry out, it's a feast worthy of your Yiddishe mama.
What can you say about Australian food? That it's just like English food, only bigger? Madison Avenue certainly likes to portray down-under types as big, boorish, beer-soaked roughnecks. Which brings us to Federal Hill's Boomerang Pub (1110 S. Charles St.,  727-2330), which bills itself as "Uniquely Australian." It is big inside, but it's also nicely refined, a handsome, airy space (carved out of a former Provident Bank), with an open dining room dominated by a massive mural of Ayers Rock. The menu offers a rather straightforward mix of beef and seafood dishes, but just so you don't confuse this place with the corner steakhouse, you'll also see things like paillard of emu (served with port-wine reduction, no less) and grilled kangaroo kabob, which is kinda gamy but not bad. Just don't tell Mr. Green Jeans what you have been eating.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201