Saturday, May 05, 2007

Baltimore's ABACROMBIE is allright for pre-opera

Saturday evening Will and I popped up to Baltimore to catch the opera and ate at ABACROMBIE (58 W BIddle at Cathedral) just opposite Meyerhoff Hall and a block from the Lyric Opera. It sure is convenient, and is the current incarnation of the age old Society Hill Restaurant from umpteen years ago. The restaurant is downstairs and the front rooms are cozy if a bit dark. The rear is an atrium with a pretty dirty glass ceiling skylight at street level. The tables area bit close and it makes it easy to hear other don't dine here for intimacy any day when there is pre-theater!

An unexciting prix fixe menu is available (soup, dessert and an entree of chicken or salmon) so went a la carte. A refreshing bottle of HIRSCH 2003 HEILGENSTEIN Gruner Veltliner KAMPTAL reminded me of my recent trip to Austria. The vintage was great for Austria and it still drinks amazingly well with huge honeydew and apple flavors. An amuse came of cold CRAB SPRING ROLL with Orange Sauce (it was described as Lobster Roll for another nearby table?!) which should have been warm I think. The PAN SEARED SCALLOPS with GOAT CHEESE & BLACK PEPPER GRITS and a RED CURRANT COMPOTE which we both started with were superb: 3 huge scallops on a bed of yummy (not spicy) grits and that delicious compote for some bursts of tart fruit flavor.

The bread seemed to be rationed at first as we only got one piece each until almost the entree. The foccacia was quite tasty, but my first piece was a bit too crunchy from warming. The PAN RAOSTED HALIBUT with PARSNIP PUREE, Asparagus, BRAISED ARTICHOKES & TOMATO in a Fennel Broth was extremely fresh and flaky and moist; I only got 1/4 of an artichoke heart and 1/10th of a tomato diced! The PROSCIUTTO ROASTED PROK TENDERLOIN was gorgeous. Normally served with Blue Cheese Gateaux, they gladly replaced that with Lyonnaise(pronounced Lion-ays by our server!) Potatoes. Pork Belly WILTED ARUGOLA & Apple Gastric completed the plate.

The French press coffee was quite good and I loved my BASIL PANNA COTTA with STRAWBERRY GELEE and Pink Peppercorn Tuille. There was a green basil sauce and a strawberry sauce on either side making for nice touches and different flavors in each bite. Will had the decent APPLE TART with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Cinnamon Sauce and we headed off to the opera!