Wednesday, March 17, 2010

From Dogwood to Kumari: Birthday Weekend Blowout!

Monday was my thirty-somethingth birthday.* And I ate. And I ate. And now I feel like I'm starting my new year of life with a few extra pounds (note to self: look into Towson's alumni gym membership, which is relatively cheaper than the local gyms). I have to say I had good meals all around! I don't eat out that often anymore, so I was playing catch up. But half of these meals were gifts, so it kind of evened out. A few tidbits about the tidbits I bit:

Chiu's Sushi (Harbor East)

Cathy and I went here on Friday for sashimi. A few years ago Chiu's was her first taste of sushi, and she never looked back.

Their deluxe sashimi plate ($25) is loaded with salmon, tuna and yellowtail. But unlike most deluxe sashimi plates, that's all it had. Still luscious but not as much variety as I have gotten used to in a sashimi plate. There is more variety in a larger sushi-sashimi boat, but that would have provided too much food for us to finish. We accompanied that with two of their current special rolls, the Pretty Angel Roll and the Osaka Roll. My favorite roll was covered in crab meat and red and white tobiko, with tempura flakes inside. I should've noted which was which. I think the one I am describing was the Pretty Angel Roll. I paired that with a nice cold 300 mL bottle of Hakushika sake. Cathy tells me I said some embarrassing stuff in the elevator in the parking garage. I guess she can't take me anywhere after I down a bottle of sake.

And as usual, we each finished our meals with a generous helping of tempura ice cream.

Chiu's Sushi on Urbanspoon

Dogwood Restaurant (Hampden)

The following night I went out with friends to the new and improved Dogwood Restaurant. It had been a while since I was there. Dogwood did not fail to amaze me the first time I went, way before their remodeling, but they impressed me more this time. The guys told to me to get what I wanted. I still try to restrain myself in these situations, but I did get some great food, not to mention the Phoenix cocktail ($9), a fizzy and smooth Prosecco-based cocktail that kept me quite happy for much of the evening.

I started off my meal with the Dogwood Baked Oysters ($16), though that big roasted head of garlic ($4) did intrigue me. The oysters - stuffed with such treats like lump crabmeat, spinach, fennel and parmigiano-reggiano (or "reggianito") - were plump and juicy, and went all too fast. As bold as some of these flavors tend to be, they still managed to take a backseat to the oyster (as they should).

While Eric and Alan each went for delicious red meat dishes (hey, it's not a frequent thing for them), I ordered the special stuffed bronzini (I don't know what it cost - I didn't pay, I didn't ask). Both Eric and our waitress recommended this highly and I am glad I took their advice. This meaty, tender Mediterranean fish was served whole, stuffed with all manner of goodies: bread, olives, tomato, onions, and green beans. The flavors blended together wonderfully in this dish. It held up as leftovers the next day, when I got into the head. I don't eat many fish heads so I was not sure what all was edible and what was not.

Eric got this lovely 12 oz. beef tenderloin ($23). I didn't try it but he liked it. I did get a taste of the celery root-sweet potato gratin. I didn't realize the two flavors melded together so well.

Alan got this big ol' New York strip ($31). He was quite pleased with it.

Dogwood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ledo's Pizza (Locust Point)

On Sunday night I went to Ledo's Pizza with quite a few of the guys in the chorus I sing in. It was just a nice meal after rehearsal. I ordered the fried calamari ($5), a little rubbery but still worth ordering again. I was pleasantly surprised with the waffle fries, sprinkled with a dash of Old Bay. It came with a not terribly spicy dipping sauce. My main course was their small (personal-size) Hawaiian pizza ($6.50). The ham was juicy and the pineapple wasn't too juicy (both pluses). The thin crust on this square pizza was flaky, not soggy or rubbery on the edges like it is in many chains.

Ledo Pizza and Pasta on Urbanspoon

Kumari (Mount Vernon)

Monday night I visited my family for two egg yellow cake (a classic from our Sunbeam stand mixer cookbook from 1950) with chocolate buttercream frosting. Then on the way home, it was a brief stop in the Grand Central for a beer. I wasn't going to stop for dinner, but I figured it was my birthday. So why not? I initially headed down to the Mount Vernon Stable, whose service I have found to be wonderful on some nights and unkind on others. Despite there only being four customers in the restaurant, the staff still couldn't be bothered to at least say "We'll be with you in a minute", so up to Kumari it was. They had no customers, and greeted me immediately.

I keep forgetting how good the food is at Kumari. I was pleasantly reminded the other night. I kept it simple, and just ordered a main dish. First they gave me a complimentary papadum with a three-chutney sampler of, which they seemed all too eager to clear out of my way (I like the chutneys. Why do you want to take them away?). The onion chutney was my favorite, though their tamarind chutney was deeper and thicker than most I have had, which tend to be thin and runny. It was actually a little smoky, if tamarind chutneys can be.

My main dish was the Nepali Bhojan ($16). This is their non-vegetarian "typical Nepalese everyday meal" (I had their vegetarian dahl bhat set on a previous visit a while back). I can't identify everything on the platter, and I didn't get a chance to copy it from the menu (the online menu is a bit briefer) but it was all good. One favorite items include the soft and extremely buttery naan. I used it for dipping into everything, including the chutneys, which it seemed I had to almost wrest from the waiters who wanted to just clear it out of my way. Other highlights of the meal include the juicy and somewhat spicy lamb curry and a filling bowl of dahl. Their potato pickle is not a typical pickle, as it isn't a pickled raw vegetable. Instead, it's a tasty cooked potato in what I think is Nepalese pickling spices. It's not what you would normally expect in a pickle.

Kumari on Urbanspoon

That's it for my birthday weekend. I've eaten out too much these past few days and it's time to stay in for a while and fix some food.

* If you missed it on Twitter then I'm not telling.


Nakiya @ Taste of Baltimore said...

I still need to make my way to Dogwood - the food looks great!

Happy Birthday!

John said...

Yes you need to get there, and thanks!

diningdish said...

Sounds like you had a very nice birthday the kind I love, dining out with friends and family. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing.