J Paul’s – Baltimore, Maryland

by KimHo on December 29, 2008 · 6 comments under: Food,Restaurant,Travel

J Paul’s
301 Light St
Baltimore, MD
J Paul's on Urbanspoon

After my sub-par experience the previous night, on night #2 in Baltimore, I chose to visit “known” places. OK, not really, rather, I chose to go to restaurants close to areas I have visited before. While walking by Inner Harbour, where I had dinner in Phillips Seafood, I found J Paul’s, which happens to be just next to Phillips Seafood.

The dinner did not start well. I was standing at their front station for at least 5 minutes before a server noticed me. OK, it was Monday and it was slow, so they could have gotten away with a skeleton staff. However, there should be somebody checking if there would be new customers… Anyway, once noticed, I was guided to the dining room and given the menu.

Did somebody mention… Empty?

In some restaurants, some drinks are almost automatic. In the case of North-American ones, I always have to check. In the past, the automatic answer was “Diet soda/pop”; however, no longer. Since I did not know what drinks they have, I started with a glass of water. It was nice it was given with a lemon wedge.

But, in the end, I settled for Heineken.

OK, I have mentioned by low alcohol tolerance; in this case, I wanted to take my chances; mainly because I needed something to “help” me sleep once I got back to the hotel (note, it did not help).

As a “free” appetizer, I was given pretzels.

With a side of yellow mustard.

Now, that was an interesting departure of bread (sure, still it is made out of flour, but it is a different twist, if you know what I mean). Just like bread, bagels and other bread-like dishes, you can prepare it in a lot of different ways. I myself am not fan of pretzels as I find them too heavy for a snack, though, in the odd times I eat them, I like them with a crunchy exterior and fluffy interior. Something like a light bagel.

Unfortunately, it was a bit “dry” to my liking – almost as “hard’ as a cracker. If you check the picture above, notice how the pretzel was “broken”, i.e, rather than strands as in bread, it almost broke cleanly. Now, for my entree…

Pulled pork. OK, I should have gone for seafood; however, I prefer not to for several reasons. They include my not-necessarily-good experience in Phillips Seafood and the fact it was Monday. What Monday has to do? Well, if you have read Kitchen Confidential (by Anthony Bourdain), it makes reference about seafood on Mondays, i.e., chances are it will be what has not been sold from their last order (most likely Friday). Sure, others might argue things have changed but I chose not to in the end. Along with the pulled pork, I had the option for two sides and I had…

Creamed spinach with a really interesting twist. As you can see above, it was prepared in a ramekin and baked, resulting in a light cheese “crust” on top. It was interesting.

Caesar salad. OK, that was a bit… Pathetic. Reality is, I wanted some veggies and that was the only one I could imagine (though, after re-checking their menu, I realized there were better options). The salad was just average.

Let’s go back for a moment to the pork. How was it? Unfortunately, not good. If you notice the colour of the pork, you would think it is a bit odd, as if it was smothered with a tomato based sauce. If that’s what you think, then you are not far – it was smothered with BBQ sauce, to the point it masked most of the pork flavour and/or any smoky-ness it might have had. Heck, the one I prepared not long ago was better than theirs! And, even if that was not the issue, I found it slightly dry to my taste. In other words, I have had better, in less fancy places. Overall, this was strike 2 of the trip…

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