It is no surprise that The Charleston wins dining awards in Baltimore. It’s the fine dining star from the Foreman Wolfe restaurant group. Chef Cindy Wolfe designs the menu, while Tony Foreman cultivates and incredible wine menu to pair with the dishes.
The challenge for dining at the Charleston can be the price. It’s a pre-fixed tasting menu. While you can choose from all the items on the menu, each person orders a particular number of courses; prices start at about $79 for three courses. I can’t afford to go here often. I have found you have a little more wiggle room when you sit at the bar, at least, when they aren’t busy.
I love to sit at the bar; it’s my favorite seat. The bartenders here offer tremendous service – to the point that Patrick remembered us four months later. They learn your name, they offer appropriate banter and sometimes give you a few bar hints. Patrick makes and mean Gin Flip. It’s The Charleston’s take on a Gin Fizz; they start by using Bombay Sapphire and shake it with pomegranate juice, fresh lime and an egg white. Egg whites add that frothy creaminess and a little bonus protein.
Give yourself time to truly enjoy the dining experience. It’s worth it; from the very start with the amuse – in this case two sips of savory soup in these adorable little mugs.
We had six courses: most good, some really great. Chef Wolfe finds away to blend flavors and textures that are unexpected. For example, the Red Beet “Tartare” – red beets roasted and cut to resemble steak tartare. The earthy beets with the briny cornichons are a wonderful combination that works nicely with the blood orange supreme on top.
One of my other favorites was the escargot with puff pastry. The delicate puff pastry and the rich robustness of the escargot. This dish was incredibly aromatic; I smelled it before it even hit the table. Don’t shy away from this dish because snails sounds likes something you don’t want to eat. This is definitely a place to try things you normally wouldn’t even think about. Get adventurous. Worth it.
The artichoke dish was thoughtful; the artichoke was kind of crispy pancake with roasted cippolini onions. The carrot puree was the star of this dish. I love the attention to detail to every part of the plate, from the protein to the garnish.
The pan roasted turbo was one of the prettiest dishes of the night. The filet of fish atop a buttery lobster risotto with two huge chunks of lobster on top. I found it slightly under seasoned, but when eaten as one bite, the lemon oil brought the entire dish together.
The duck dish was interesting. The breast was a gorgeously prepared and seasoned. I have developed a deep love for duck, especially with my Trisaetum Pinot Noir. I did not love the bed of risotto it was on top of. I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening.
I didn’t love the sweetbreads. We had grilled sweetbreads on top of mashed potatoes so the plate was a little mushy. Flavorwise, the dish was nice. I hate to write anything bad about this place; it was a great dish – but when compared to the other dishes, it fell a little flat.
The desserts. Gorgeous. Pistachio always makes me think of my dad so I generally order it every time it’s on the menu. This did not disappoint; the Pistachio Dacquoise with raspberry and white chocolate. So pretty and quite delectable.