Baltimore Review
March 19th, 2010

Fell's Point, Baltimore

It’s nice when the weather not only cooperates but becomes a highlight. My days in Baltimore were blessed with absolutely perfect weather (even though I spent most of those days indoors, regrettably). I’ve been to Baltimore during other, far less-ideal, climatic conditions, and Baltimore is better in the sun. Much better. I didn’t have a lot of free time while there, but I did manage to get to a few restaurants and bars. I won’t be able to include some nice places as I simply forgot to note their names (and my memory wasn’t paying attention).

Admiral Fell Inn

This is a charming hotel in the heart of the Fell’s Point neighborhood, which I’m told has the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in the US. (I don’t know if that is true, but there certainly is an abundance of choice along those cobblestoned streets.) The Admiral Fell Inn is just a tad larger than the typical boutique hotel that I like, but it has a lot of charm. I’ve stayed in other hotels in Baltimore, but I now can’t imagine staying anywhere else. Fell’s Point is a great part of the city for restaurants, bars, shops and just walking around. It has a very European small-city feel to it. I (fortunately) didn’t pay for my stay at the Admiral Fell Inn, but I’m told that it’s fairly priced for what it is in Baltimore. And while I didn’t have time for sightseeing or shopping, the hotel offers van service to the Inner Harbor area (but I think a water taxi sounds like more fun).
http://www.harbormagic.com/AdmiralFell/admiral_fell_default.asp (warning: annoying site music)

Bertha’s

I think that I’ll call this place more of a bar than a restaurant. Actually, tavern seems more appropriate. They have more than mussels on the their menu, but it’s clear that they’re pushing out a lot of mussels. Their marketing campaign seems to consist primarily of bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. that read “Eat Bertha’s Mussels”. And I did. The quantity was a bit overwhelming, but they were definitely tasty and were paired-nicely with a locally brewed Oliver’s Dark Horse ale. I’d be happy to go back, pull up a stool to the bar and gorge on another bowl of mussels, washed down with a pint of Dark Horse. Yes, I would, and I might.
http://www.berthas.com/

Kooper’s Tavern

Kooper was the owners’ dog (a yellow lab), and how can you possibly go wrong in a bar named after a puppy? It all felt right to me. (They also have a dining room, but I saw neither it nor the menu.) It’s a beautiful wood bar with Guinness on tap. I suspect that there are many bars in Fell’s Point that are nearly identical. This just happens to be the one in which I ended up, and it felt kind of comfortable – like a yellow lab.
http://www.kooperstavern.com/

Peter’s Inn

Peter’s was recommended to me by a friend of the owner. It’s a great restaurant, masquerading, rather convincingly, as a bikers’ bar. (Or it was a bikers’ bar and just kept the look.) When it comes to mixed drinks about as “mixed” as I get is putting a vermouth bottle in close proximity to gin (or adding ice cubes to bourbon or maybe a splash of tonic to gin). And it was indeed a martini that sounded like a good choice at the time. Given the option of 5oz or 10oz, I opted for 5oz, thinking that I was being responsible. However, apparently that only referred to the size of the glass as I was given a martini glass that was full to the rim plus a shaker that filled it to the rim another two times. Folks, that’s a lot of martini for a pre-dinner drink! (It’s like ordering a draft and being served the keg.) I have no idea what I did to merit that shaker as a fellow martini-drinker with me was served only a single glass. (And, no, the shaker wasn’t for both of us. She was drinking a vodka martini. Mine was gin.) Either I had a twinkle in my eye, the waiter looked at my dinner companions and thought “poor bastard”, or maybe he looked at them and thought that he’d help ease their pain by putting me under the table. As a group of three (and then four), we decided to share a seared rare tuna “nachos” entrée as a starter. What an absolutely brilliant choice that proved to be. Yum, yum and more yum. And then for reasons that had nothing to do with solidarity, but a lot to do with happenstance, we all managed to order the same entrée: Maine lobster over lobster ravioli. I must confess that the martinis were kicking in (and my butt!) by the time the lobster arrived; so my taste buds might have been less than completely alert. Nonetheless, it was excellent. Their menu changes weekly, but I think that I can with great confidence highly recommend this place. It might be a little rough around the edges (and the photography in the bathrooms might be a tad risque for some), but what they put on the plates they serve you is absolutely divine. I know that I’ll be going back, but I don’t know if I dare order another martini!
http://www.petersinn.com/

Well, that’s all I’ve got for Baltimore. I’d love to tell you about the bar where I played pool and met some wonderful people – quite an eclectic group actually: Australians, Cubans, etc. plus the Russian and Burmese that I brought with me – but I don’t know the name. I suspect, that like Kooper’s, there are many similar places in Fell’s Point. It’s just that kind of neighborhood. It’s almost certainly a lot prettier than the days of prostitutes and violence, but Fell’s Point has not been entirely gentrified. It still has a lot of original charm.

Now, for those of you who read all they way to this point and are still thinking, “um, what about the photography?”… it looks like a great place for a photographer to have a blast. And I did – just not with a camera. I wasn’t on a mission to photograph Fell’s Point, and I didn’t. Literally, the photo up top is the only photo I took of the neighborhood. However, I think that the next time I’m there that I definitely will plan on photographing Fell’s Point. So stay tuned. Fell’s Point will see me again.

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