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b A Bolton Hill Bistro, Baltimore

The Bolton Hill neighborhood of Baltimore is beautiful and kind of posh with its gorgeous 19th-century buildings, but there aren’t a lot of businesses there so I was surprised to find a good-looking farm-to-table bistro there — the restaurant scene in Baltimore is sparse and hit-or-miss anyway. Turns out, b – a Bolton Hill Bistro is great.

The restaurant features an unpretentious menu of well-executed, traditional-but-modern French and Italian dishes made from local ingredients. For starters we had some of the best steak tartare I’ve ever had and some snails over polenta that seemed almost unsalted yet remarkably tasty. For mains we had the cod stew (featuring mussels, head-on prawns, cod, and a dark and complex broth), amazingly fatty and crispy duck confit on a traditional cassoulet, and the special that day which was crispy-skin pork belly over fingerling potatoes and braised red cabbage. It was a rich meal, but we felt refreshed by it.

Afterwards, I watched chef Jamie Forsythe doing his thing in the open kitchen and it really got me excited about cooking and food again. All in all, it was a really great experience, and while pricey, it was completely reasonable compared to similar restaurants in other cities. Also, it turns out the Karzai family (as in Hamid) owns this joint.

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