|Dim sum at Red Pearl -- Sharing food is an ice breaker|
Let's be honest: You can eat your favorite dish at your favorite spot if you are eating alone. (And for some of you, "favorite spot" can mean over the sink.) You need a joint that sets the right mood when you're trying to entertain someone else. We call that a date.
So what kind of joint do you need? For convenience and a blog post, I see two distinct categories: the dating restaurant and the "Date Night" restaurant. Dating restaurant: You have a new person in mind, so you want a night that makes you seem intriguing. A "Date Night" restaurant: You have a kid and probably a mortgage, so you need dinner worth a babysitter.
2012 guide to Howard County -- "Welcome Home." Ten posts to prove there are dozens of places worth your time, that you can find great food all across the county. It's written for someone new to Howard County (maybe a link you send a friend thinking about moving here), but hopefully it's useful to anyone.
Let's start with the first kind of restaurant. Imagine a third-date restaurant. You want good food. Not too expensive, but a nice place -- a step up from the counter service at Maiwand Kabob or R&R Taqueria. You definitely want a dessert option -- either there or nearby -- in case the date goes well. You want your date to have options since you don't know what they like; but it would be great to have a few superb items:
- Bangkok Garden 9 in Columbia. Spicy Thai food in Oakland Mills village center. Not the coolest parking lot, but there are Thai dishes that taste authentic and aren't on the average Thai menu.
- Fuji Restaurant in Ellicott City. Pretty space off Rte 40. Try seafood udon soup and other Japanese items.
- Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia. Amazing burgers, then other foods circling up in complexity and price. I remember liking that my girl relished a good burger. The outdoor patio can be pretty even surrounded by cars.
- El Azteca in Clarksville. We love the salsas, the tacos, and the chicken mole. Margaritas make for a good date.
- Red Pearl in Columbia. Go for weekend dim sum or a weeknight dinner. Nice to walk around the lake if it's going well. If it's going really well, you could make plans for next weekend at Sushi Sono next door.
|WKitchen: Worth driving|
- Aida Bistro in Columbia. The highest-end Italian in Howard County. A focus on wine. We have eaten there twice, but I never got a good picture.
- Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia. Little plates and entrees, many whimsical and many delicious. Surrounded by wine bottles and advice to make sure you love what you drink.
- Sushi Sono in Columbia. Perfect fish. Fantastic rolls. Delicious green tea. Sake if you're in the mood.
- Bistro Blanc in Glenelg. Seasonal menus that draw from local farms and pair with the wine that they stock in overwhelming supply.
- Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. Just because you moved here doesn't mean that you need to stay here. Woodberry's seasonal, small dishes make this our favorite single place.
Regular commenter RDAdoc agreed with my analysis of the "date night" requirements. She and Mr. RDAdoc ate out frequently when they lived alone in Baltimore. Along the way, they have picked up a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old and a more-focused view of eating out. She highlights two of my choices:What I Don't Know: I purposefully avoided Indian, Korean and most sushi because there will be a post that concentrates on our "Big Three" cuisines. Where do you take a date? Where do you go for Date Night? On the high-end side, Barbi wrote last month about Stanford Grill in Columbia. For a third date, what do people think about Tino's Italian Bistro in Columbia? People talk up the pastas.
Since young children’s behavior is quite unpredictable, I only take my children to restaurants frequented by other people with young children as to not torture anyone paying good money for a relaxing dinner. Recently a few good friends have shared their babysitters with me, so Mr. RDAdoc and I are able to start going to adult restaurants again. However, when we do go to a restaurant now I want to make sure it’s a worthwhile experience. A couple suggestions for meals at two of my favorite Howard County restaurants that are definitely worth getting a babysitter for:
|Iron Bridge's salad|
Iron Bridge Winery - I love just about everything on their menu but a few of my absolute favorite are their fall greens salad with roasted pumpkin, sour cherries, cherry tomatoes and mustard vinaigrette, their roasted squash soup, and their flatbreads. I was there for lunch recently and for $15 got a salad and sandwich combo that was both reasonable and tasty!
Bistro Blanc - Just like with Iron Bridge, I love almost everything on their menu. I have enjoyed their petite green salad, grilled brie, flatbreads and risotto. My husband recently had their lamb burger and said it was outstanding.