Henry & Jeff's/Arrogant Director · La Tesso Tano · Thai Landing · Café Zen · Spike and Charlie's
Henry & Jeff's/Arrogant Director (1218-20 N. Charles St.,  727-3322) allows your mind to remain at the theater even as your body takes a seat at a restaurant table. The items on the dinner menu are assigned to various theater directors--Center Stage's Irene Lewis is represented by a chicken soup, the legendary Bertolt Brecht's name is associated with a bourbon-flavored chicken dish. The setting tries to be upscale and classy but this restaurant has a tendency to get loud and raucous on weekends.
La Tesso Tano (58 W. Biddle St.,  837-3630) benefits from one of the best locations in Baltimore--across the street from the Meyerhoff. Pre- and postsymphony diners are everywhere in this cavernous basement restaurant. The atmosphere is hushed, the lighting almost nonexistent, and the food traditional Northern Italian. La Tesso Tano has always struck us as the perfect spot--dark and cozy--to start an illicit affair.
Thai Landing (1207 N. Charles St.,  727-1234) offers well-priced elegance. Chat about the play as you spoon up chicken-and-lemon-grass soup with a luxurious coconut-milk base. Argue over the symphony program as you enjoy the chicken-satay appetizer. Thai Landing's atmosphere is wonderfully understated but the flavors are not--the spice level gets as hot as your tastebuds will allow. Go ahead and risk it. You can always cool off with the sweet-rice-and-mango dessert.
Next time you catch a flick at the historic Senator Theatre you might want to skip the Raisinets and popcorn and save your appetite for the placid confines of the incredibly reasonable Café Zen (438 Belvedere Ave.,  532-0022), which is a mere garden-rock's throw around the corner from the Senator (and which lops 10 percent off of the tab if you show your movie ticket stub). Hard-core vegetarians swear by Zen and its superabundance of meatless dishes, namely the marvelous homestyle tofu, vegetable mu shu, and vegetable sushi, even. On the app side, we always go for the vivid-green vegetable dumplings, and the sesame noodles that redefine the category.
Conveniently located near the Meyerhoff, the Lyric, and the Theatre Project, Spike and Charlie's (1225 Cathedral St.,  752-8144) is particularly suited to après-show gatherings. Cool jazz sometimes plays in the background, the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant's pristine setting and elegant, upscale bill of fare. The fashionably innovative appetizers are attractive and delicious, and the in-house wine cellar never disappoints. And the restaurant occasionally puts on a show of its own, hosting periodic Wednesday-night wine tastings.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201