The Last $30 Supper: Busy Baltimore Restaurant Week Pays Off

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Above, D.C.-based novelist Maud Casey prepares to dine on grilled salmon with heirloom tomatoes, grilled cucumbers in a caper vinaigrette, preceded by a cup of vichyssoise (cold and creamy potato and leek soup) — at Petit Louis in Roland Park.

For the first time ever, I took a bite out of Baltimore Restaurant Week this year. Every three-course meal at every fine participating restaurant only $30.12, with special discounts on wine.

In the past, I’d envisioned a chaotic scene, a gang of rude GroupOn-minded diners flooding local restaurants demanding their gourmet bargain of the year, and stressing the staff to the point of poor service. But it wasn’t like that. You could sometimes read the pressure on servers’ heated faces. But the food came fast, freshly plated, and attitude-free, if not totally stress-free.

On Friday night, I asked our pleasant host at the Dogwood Restaurant in Hampden how he was faring. He joked to say he’d had a super full day but survived just fine: “You know Monty Python? It’s only a flesh wound,” he said. We’d made reservations late for 10 p.m. Our waitress looked tired but happy, well-tipped. She said she was grateful for the excellent business.

Like my friend, I ordered the succulent salmon (below) on Saturday night at Petit Louis. It was light enough that I still had real room for dessert, in addition to wanting it.

Below, PL’s dining room was packed Saturday early eve, as was Dogwood the late night before. Waitstaff at both establishments told me crowds had been nonstop steady for lunch and dinner after a few weeks of hot, sluggish slowdown, which is of course the event’s motivation, to speed summer traffic.

Our TV-actor-looking waiter at Petit Louis seemed energized by the action.

Peachy remains of dessert at Petit Louis below: I opted for the seasonal fruit in custard, but forgot to shoot it before I’d devoured 80 percent. Two women at a table nearby ordered chocolate mousse, but they too worked quickly and I missed that photo op. They mentioned loving their lamb and duck dishes, respectively. Diners, I noticed, tended to say goodbye to scraped empty plates and bowls.

Friday night, we closed down Dogwood, pictured below, leaving a little after 11:30. A few lingered in the bar area, giving us a spare cork for our leftover pinot gris. We brought home edible leftovers also, portions here a bit heartier: trout for me, “Forbidden Rice and Sweet Potato -Cauliflower Curry” for my husband.

Isn’t the lighting cool? Bright murals also dress up the broad basement space.

Our cat Stan sampled the Dogwood’s curry dish and approved. We’d finished our carrot cake and chocolate pot de creme on the spot. Highly recommend both sweet treats, both eating spots, and the whole (festive not frantic) Restaurant Week experience.

Where did you dine last week? What did you order?

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