Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Helmand Restaurant

As of tonight, I've declared a moratorium on eating out in Annapolis. We ventured into Baltimore this afternoon, partly to catch the end of "The Repeating Image" exhibit at the Walters Art Gallery and partly to find some decent food. We were delighted to discover that The Helmand, an Afghani restaurant on North Charles Street, was as good as its reputation.

We started with two appetizers, kaddo borawni, lovely chunks of spicy-sweet pumpkin topped with a yoghurt sauce, and banjan borawni, a stewed, aromatic eggplant dish. Both were excellent, nor did our entrees disappoint: aushak, best described as an Afghani ravioli (and sooooo good!); seekh kabob, marinated lamb tenderloin; and a vegetarian dish comprised of rice, mushrooms, and spinach.

Service was prompt and courteous and dishes came quickly out of the kitchen, which seemingly runs with military efficiency. The decor is pleasant: white walls, punctuated by the occasional textile, and tile floors. It feels open yet intimate. I was pleased that the temperature inside the restaurant on this frigid night was toasty without being stifling. In short, management had clearly seen to the comfort of their guests: it was the utter opposite of Bebo Trattoria the previous weekend.

So far, we have yet to experience a bad or even lackluster meal in Baltimore. We've only tried half-a-dozen restaurants, ranging from a casual Irish pub down at Fell's Point to a couple of brilliant French inns. All were priced fairly for the quality of food, and service was invariably professional. After two-and-a-half years of indifferent (or downright poor) food and spotty service, we've given up on Annapolis and are now looking north to Baltimore, where a seeming cornucopia of culinary delights awaits us.

No comments: