Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tastes of Baltimore II

This is the second of two posts about eating out during my recent visit to Small-timore. You can find its companion post here: Tastes of Baltimore I.

Oh My Darling...
Lunch on Sunday was a raucous affair with 4 best buds from high school at Clementine. I never thought Hamilton could support such a chi-chi restaurant, but this mom-and-pop affair has done so well that pop opened a charcuterie and deli just up the street (below). They also own the next-door-but-one Hamilton Bakery. I'd been to the restaurant for Tuesday Taco Night and a Saturday lunch before and happily scoped out the menu beforehand. I had my stomach set on the fried catfish with corn and cheese grits (right). The fish was light and delicious, but I found the grits under-seasoned. Some salt and the juice of AP's lemon improved the flavor greatly.

The real buzz was caused by our waitress, a middle-aged blonde woman. My four friends were finally seated 20 minutes after our reservation; I showed up about 20 minutes after that, as our return from the camping trip had been delayed by almost an hour, and I needed to shower and change before entering polite company. In the meantime, the waitress (who never introduced herself, so I couldn’t publicly shame her even if I wanted to) tried to remove the extra chair set up for me, while the group was in the process of explaining that I was coming. “Is she really?” she retorted in an incredulous voice. When they then tried to order (I’d called to say what I wanted) she walked away, saying, “I’ve got other things to do.” Really. You have Very Important Things to Do besides taking an order from a table in your service? Please excuse us for asking you to do your job. The piece d’resistance was when she brought SB’s drink, and SB pointed out that there was lipstick on the glass. “Yes?” “It’s not my lipstick!” “Well I’ll bring you another one.” No apology, just indifference. Of course all this was related with much gusto once I had arrived and wound my way through the tables to the booth in the back. The waitress never did give us very much attention, but her attitude became noticeably nicer as tipping time drew nearer. We left the minimum and then scoped out the delicious baked goodies at the Bakery. (I can recommend the scones.)

My parents say they don’t go to Clementine on the weekends any more because the service is so slow; apparently the chef apparently has a hard time delegating and wants to have his hands in every plate. Next time I’m back in town we’ll go to Maggie’s Farm if we can get a table, or maybe Los Amigos. AM says they know how to get an order right there, like making sure the dish doesn't have onions if the customer has an allergy to them (::cough::).

There are tons of period decorations on the walls of the diner, like old street signs,
and photographs of Hamilton back in the day. This clock hangs above the door.

Now we're cookin'!
On my last day in town, I wanted to treat my youngest brother to a famous hamburger at Hamilton Tavern, but they're not open for lunch, and I had to brave Opening Day and rush-hour traffic to get to the airport to fly home, so we compromised on the Lost in the '50s Diner across the street. (Their website is lost in the '90s.) The joint comes complete with bar stools at a bright red counter and vinyl booths with vintage table-top juke boxes that sadly no longer work. N. said he wasn't planning on eating his entire Philly Cheese Steak (with chips), but I guess it was so good that he polished it right off. I sampled the Teeny Boppers with fries (below). You can see the buns were kind of squishy, but in all they were good. I even ate most of the fries. I wish I had had room for a chocolate milk shake. The place was empty in the middle of the lunch hour, so I would go back, if only to try to keep a locally owned business open. (I haven't heard any negative stories about them that would suggest they're struggling for legitimate reasons like bad food or service.)

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