I have a secret weapon in Nicky Keelty. She’s a dear friend who knows more about Baltimore restaurants (and hotels, shops and salons) than anyone I know. Nicky can conjure up the perfect restaurant for any occasion on cue, and follow it up with an impsossible-to-get Saturday night reservation, all with one swift call. Nicky is connected.
Why is the mother of two on the inside track? It’s her job. As a Senior Vice President, Principal at Cassidy Turley, she leases space downtown. It’s her business to know what, where, when and why.
She’s so genuinely likable and fun, it’s easy to see why any restaurant would happily move her name to the top of the resevations list.
Home cook assessment: Do you consider Durkee onions and Campbell’s mushroom soup legitimate ingredients or cheating?
Cheating, you need to start from scratch. And how would you make those onion things or that soup? I just avoid those ingredients all together.
Saturday night with the husband: Where do you book? What do you order?
Ambassador. Patio table. Chicken tikka masala.
Where would you take fun friends in from New York?
I think the Oregon Grille shows a side of Baltimore that most visitors don’t get to see. The night starts the with the drive out on country roads, really beautiful.
How about for a celebratory dinner?
I’m not going to lie. It’s always the Prime Rib.
Where is your go-to place with the kids?
Friendly Farm Restaurant in Upperco. You order your entree and the rest is all family style sides brought to the table; beets, cottage cheese, french fries, peaches, apple butter and these beyond delicious sugar buns. Your basically eating at a picnic table but the food is really good. The kids can run free and there is a duck pond for entertainment.
Any drive-ins, diners and dives?
I don’t mind the Corner Stable.
What new restaurant are you dying to try?
I eat out more than anyone I know so I can’t really say there is anything haven’t tried. I do want to go back to Ten Ten at the Bagby building in Harbor East. I thought they had a great menu.
Where do you grocery shop and why?
Honestly? Everywhere. I is not unusual for me to hit three stores in a day. I go to Wegman’s for general things, Eddie’s for meat and Graul’s for prepared foods. Oh, I also go to Belvedere Square market too.
Is there a food item that you regularly go out of your way to buy?
I always stop by Isabella’s in Little Italy. Great sandwiches, pizzas and meatballs. It’s the real thing.
What Baltimore restaurant has the best vibe?
I like Wit & Wisdom’s bar but I have to give it to Woodberry Kitchen. I love that the patrons represent every slice of Baltimore and with all its acclaim there are out-of-towners too. It’s a great mix.
OK, we gotta do it. Best crab cake?
So many great ones and they all taste good, so I am going to go with visual impact and Friendly Farms has the largest crab cake you have eve seen.
Anything on your wish list for the Baltimore food scene?
An authentic Mexican place in the county. Please!?