To continue on in my trying to make amends for my botched attempt at McPolish Restaurant Week (and I swear I’ll be trying this foray again soon. Or later. One of the two.) I’m going to finish up this train wreck with one of the best places I’ve hit up in Baltimore.
And when it comes to Baltimore, I’ve hit up quite a lot of best places.
But that’s another story for another time. Just know that Jesus has made it clear He does not want me to go to Birches. The Lord is opposed to me dining at Birches. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I ever did to piss Him off.
You know what? I don’t want to talk about it.
Thankfully, Baltimore is rife with delicious eateries. When I started doing freelance nightlife writing back in the day up in Baltimore (ah, the good old days), it quickly became clear that Baltimore’s restaurant scene was superior to DC’s. I’m sorry, people, but that’s just the way it is. And I’ve been shouting that from the rooftops for the last five years.
So it really should come as no surprise to you that I think the Annabel Lee Tavern is another gem in Baltimore’s crown. A few months back I sat at the bar with Panda, Baltimore Betty, and the official Food Week Mascot at ALT. I’d only been in the place once before, and that was to interview the chef for a BMMX feature on Chefs You Should Know. He was a quiet guy, kind of confused as to why I was profiling him, but friendly enough, and without a lot of the ego you usually encounter in chefs. (I find this true of many Baltimore chefs, actually. With the exception of a couple that come to mind. Funnily enough, they are both chefs at restaurants in the Fed Hill neighborhood. I don’t know if that means anything or has any sort of relevance, but it just dawned on me and I thought I’d share.)
Obviously, Annabel Lee Tavern has a Poe-theme, with Poe décor on the wall, Poe-themed cocktails, you get the idea. Baltimoreans love them some Edgar Allen, let me tell you. If you take nothing else away from a visit to Baltimore, know this: Edgar Allen Poe is buried there, and yes, The Wire really was filmed in Baltimore.*
We ordered rounds of drinks and picked out our wants and desires from the menu. It was crowded the night that we went, made more so by a pop-up rainstorm that sent the customers dining al fresco mad dashing into the bar area of a restaurant that’s not all that big to begin with. But, you know, shit happens. They were polite enough to try not to drip on us, and it didn’t bother our eating none, and the food was still delicious, so all was well.
Annabel Lee’s menu is eclectic and a bit odd-ball, but truly I would expect nothing less from any good restaurant in Baltimore. Chefs there are nothing if not daring, and for that, I applaud them. (Note—the menu changes relatively regularly. AWESOME.)
Multiple appetizers were had, drinks were consumed, but thankfully, no mistakes were made. (Besides maybe some very loud, obnoxious storytelling on our parts, but is that ever a mistake? If you are part of my dining group, no. If you are another patron in the restaurant, probably then yes.) We ordered brussel sprouts (yes, you read that correctly), some spicy sweet potato fries (which I’m happy to say have changed my opinion of sweet potato fries, but sadly I’m now very picky about the quality of my sweet potato fries. I cannot help it that my standards are high.), and buffalo mushrooms.
So even vegetarians can enjoy the wonder of eating things fried and buffaloized. Not that I’m a vegetarian or anything.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Do you know vegetarians don’t eat bacon?
I followed those ‘shrooms et al with a burger that involved prosciutto and provolone and that I can’t tell you about further because I don’t want there to be a mad rush on Annabel Lee and then next time I go there I can’t get a seat to save my soul.
My dining partners had, in no particular order: a curried chicken salad sandwich, an open face turkey thing (I think), and orange roughy tacos, which I’m told were all delicious.
If you don’t believe me, then check it out for yourself. This is not a place you will walk away from squawking “NEVERMORE!” (heh) (I couldn’t resist, hellooooo).
*And OMFG, if you haven’t watched The Wire, you need to go do that right now or we…just…we just can’t be friends anymore. Why are you still reading this blog? GO WATCH THE WIRE. DID YOU NOT HEAR ME?