In addition to trips to Frontera Grill for brunch and various exercises in Chicago grub, we wanted to get a nice dinner our final night, and I ended up deciding on mk, especially since I could get a table on OpenTable, which I always prefer, since I don’t enjoy talking to people:)
We ended up walking there from our hotel, which was something of a hike, and it was a nice night (we el’d it back, thought that wasn’t necessarily that convenient either). The room is elegantly designed — modern and refined — and though many reviewers had suggested the second floor, the first floor was perfectly fine.
The meal started somewhat slowly, as we were given what I thought was an inordinate amount of time to peruse the menu (which isn’t exactly pages long) and wine list (which is). We did order cocktails relatively quickly, and I fell in love with mine: the Via Soleil, a concoction of prosecco, St. Germain, and vanilla. I can see how for some that drink could be too sweet, but it was a perfect summer cocktail, and a delight.
When we had decided on our food, we got the sommelier to recommend a relatively inexpensive ($36 with a 10% discount) bottle of an Italian white that is not on their online list for some reason, but was perfect.
The meal started with an amuse bouche of a heirloom tomato salad that was light and perfectly seasoned:
Appetizers came next: a selection of oysters for Rick that had individual drops of sauce, instead of the usual mini-buckets of sauce, just so it was just so, and for me a Hudson Valley foie gras torchon, with apricots, pistachio, and a quinoa granola frisee:
This gave me an inkling for what we were in for. The foie gras was decadent of course, but by no means overwhelmingly rich. The accompaniments perfectly suited the foie gras, bringing out fruits and bite that may not have been there otherwise.
Next came the entrees, with Rick opting for a grilled Alaskan halibut special that was perfectly cooked with a fresh sauce of corn, summer squash, tarragon, and grape tomatoes:
I opted for a menu seafood regular: Lake Erie whitefish pan roasted, poached Maine lobster, edamame, radish, scallions, lobster and radish broth:
A generous portion that was nonetheless light given its ingredients, the dish was perfectly seasoned and filled with surprises — from the ways the various vegetables brought out brightness in the whitefish, to the delicate richness of the lobster on its own and then when accompanied by the broth. Seemingly simple, but delightful.
As we ordered our food, I said to the waiter, “Oh, and we’d like…” and he finished saying, “the pommes frites with truffle cream” — obviously, this is the signature side here at mk:
And deservedly so. They were beyond addicting: I might have come close to reaching over to the next table to grab a few more fries; I was very very close to dabbing my finger in the dish to get the last wisps of truffle cream out. Yes, they have made it onto the Hall of Dishes for being basically perfect.
Dessert was fantastic as well: Rick had two cremes brulees (blackberry and vanilla), while I had carrot cake (kinda), composed of ginger cream cheese sorbet, vanilla-carrot puree, brown sugar meringue white chocolate carrot puffs, and brown butter powder:
The plate looks a mess, but this is a deconstructed carrot cake, so it should be. The sorbet was some of the best I’ve had, the puffs were delicate pillows of carroty goodness, and I wish I could have the puree with everything.
The meal lasted a bit longer than it should have as again the checking in and check itself were oddly spaced out. However, the entire experience overall was really very good, and earns mk a spot in the Top 5 for the delicacy of the dishes, the atmosphere, the beverages, and those damn fries.
438 East Belvedere Ave. Baltimore, MD 21212
I’m not going to actually spend much time on this one, since it’s largely here to make certain people jealous.
All one needs to know is that this place offers good Asian food, but also has one of the best dishes ever: string bean rolls.
Now, that doesn’t really do it justice. Let’s try this:
So, it’s this absolute mass of string beans slathered in hoisin sauce, somehow contained by a scrumptious, thick scallion pancake. Also, note the festive toothpicks. Damn those are some fine toothpicks.
String Bean Rolls: definitely in my Hall of Dishes, even if Cafe Zen (though fine) may not be.