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Eat Feature

Big Night Baltimore

The Black Olive · Tersiguel's · Kings Contrivance · Rudy's 2900 · Pierpoint · The Prime Rib · Tio Pepe's

Posted 2/25/1998

Mom and Dad have been together 50 years, Junior graduated at the head of his class, the promotion you've been after finally came through. It's time to dress up and drop a bundle--top-shelf drinks, dishes that are "pan-seared" and "pecan-encrusted," appetizers and dessert. You want to celebrate the occasion in style at a place where a tuxedoed maître d' pulls out your chair and puts your wine in an ice bucket. Go ahead. Live large. Tip big. And when they bring the check, just close your eyes and think of England.

Few meals come close to dinner at the Black Olive (814 S. Bond St., [410] 276-7141), where everything--from olives fresh off a boat from Kalamata, Greece, and bread straight from the oven to the richest and purest of olive oils and vinegars--is like nothing else found in these parts. This relative newcomer features Greek fare lighter and fresher than most of us know and easily qualifies as Baltimore's best place for fish--the specimen of your choice, marinated, grilled and filleted table-side in an enclosed, candlelit patio, complimented by superb Greek wines.

Every visit to Tersiguel's (8293 Main St., Ellicott City, [410] 465-4004) is special, from the moment Fernand Tersiguel greets you at the door to your first bite of the wonderful French country cooking to the last sip of your coffee or after-dinner drink. Few places around these parts ooze unforced elegance like this converted rowhouse in downtown Ellicott City, and fewer still have a kitchen to match.

Surrounded on all sides by the suburban sameness that is Columbia, King's Contrivance (10150 Shaker Dr., Columbia, [410] 995-0500) glimmers like something out of a fever dream--a converted country mansion that serves up French-tinted food in sumptuous surroundings. Popular with promgoers and wedding parties, it's the kind of place that makes you want order champagne with the meal.

The same can be said of Rudy's 2900 (2900 Baltimore Blvd., Finksburg, [410] 833-5777). Plopped down incongruously on a not particularly attractive stretch of Route 140 in Carroll County, Rudy's isn't much to look at from the road, but inside it's all plush finery and fine Continental cooking.

These days you can't turn around without slamming into "new Southern" restaurants--you know, where stuff that used to be "breaded" or "fried" is now "encrusted." But before them all there was Pierpoint (1822 Aliceanna St., [410] 675-2080), where for years chef Nancy Longo has been working her alchemy to create what might be called nouveau Maryland cuisine. Pierpoint's signature dish is the heavenly smoked (!) crab cakes, but it's been known to do wonderful things with chicken and trout, and the elegant, intimate dining room is perfect for a special dinner for two.

What better way to celebrate life's most memorable occasions than with a visit to Mobtown's venerable Prime Rib (1101 N. Calvert St., [410] 539-1804)? From its classic, wood-appointed setting to its menu of steaks, chops, and seafood, the atmosphere is one of class and old-school elegance. The Prime Rib may not be trendy or cutting-edge, and it's certainly not cheap, but the food is consistently well-prepared, and the service--as befits a mainstay of old Baltimore--is excellent.

Tio Pepe's(10 E. Franklin St., [410] 539-4675) marks its 30th anniversary this year, and no wonder. Restaurantgoers still flock to land oh-so-rare reservations at this bastion of traditional (and not-so-traditional) Spanish cuisine. Tio Pepe's is quite pricey and shows some signs of age but when we see its striking red and gold décor and sample the especialidades de casa (roast suckling pig, the magnificent paella), the words "no mas" just won't come to mind.

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