When Colette and I first came to Baltimore from New York in 1985, the city’s restaurant scene produced in us a profound culture shock; no high end French food, mediocre seafood places (compared to the bounty found in the stores to cook at home), no genuine ethnic cuisine and no places around the corner that we had become so used to after 25 years on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
But there was the Chesapeake, a Grande Dame of a place, resembling the great inns of New England, just north of the train station as one approached the only “art” cinema house. Its fare was uncomplicated; steaks and crab-cakes and the like – but high quality, classy and fun. Alas, it closed soon after we arrived.
Now two decades plus later, after family squabbles, broken promises and strange goings-on among its owners, the city and the area’s development folks, it’s back, and it’s wonderful.
I was asked to embargo these comments until today because (1) I ate during its “soft opening” and (2) the menu then was just a sampling of things to come.
Because what I ate may not be available to everyone, I hesitate to tout specific items because they may not be available now; but the smelts, deviled eggs, shrimp, spicy mussels and rockfish were a cut above what one usually sees in this town and even the fries were good. The wines verge on the pricey side and we have to return to see if that’s the story with the regular menu, but all in all, I think they’ve got a hit. By they, I mean the owners, manager, chefs and waitstaff, all of whom were super-nice and paid personal attention to us at one point or other during the meal (they did not know who I was).
Go? I’ll be back soon.