Birds of a Feather: good food in a typical Fells Point atmosphere

October 01, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

You know if a restaurant is located in Fells Point, chances ar it's going to be a little funky. Birds of a Feather is no exception. Owners Alicia and John Horn opened the dining room of their bar last spring, but the restaurant never really got off the ground until recently.

It looks like a typical Fells Point bar dining room, maybe a little nicer than some, with dark blue tablecloths, cheerful art on the walls and a boombox playing a light-music radio station. The kind of place where you can count on getting a good crab cake or a bacon cheeseburger.

Except that the menu offers venison pate and grilled salmon with raspberry tarragon cream. The salads are "field greens" or watercress with chevre. And the desserts are made by the pastry chef at a prominent Baltimore restaurant who happens to be friends with the owners.

The food is good. The question is, if you're spending an average of $15 for an entree, are you willing to listen to car ads on the radio, sit in a tiny dining room full of smokers and put up with pleasant but hardly polished service?

I'm not.

Still, you can't fault the kitchen. Chef Timothy Pritchett has created a delicious little appetizer of crisp-edged, pan-fried ravioli stuffed with minced mushrooms in a seductively smooth cream sauce flavored with madeira.

He places shrimp Louis on a bed of mixed greens with a ripe wedge of tomato edged with cucumber slices. The shrimp are fresh and cooked to perfect firmness, and the classic sauce makes a good dressing for the greens.

The menu emphasizes meats and chicken over seafood, which makes Birds of a Feather a little different from most Fells Point restaurants. But you can get the aforementioned salmon, a fish of the day and shrimp.

Chef Pritchett broils an individual rack of lamb and sauces it with a dark, winey sauce with flavors of rosemary, mustard and mint. The chops were beautifully tender but a bit fatty; and if you ask for rare, expect your meat to be still moving.

The plate was prettily decorated with sprigs of rosemary and slivers of red pepper, so it was a surprise to have the baked potato that accompanied the lamb still in its aluminum foil.

Grilled boned chicken breast is sliced and arranged in a fan over wild rice. There's a spoonful of red pepper and tomato puree at its center, with a Southwestern flavor to it. The sauce didn't quite work for me, although I couldn't put my finger on why.

Dinners come with vegetables, in this case a well-seasoned saute of squashes, onions and pepper. Salads are extra. And the bread needs to be improved -- if this wasn't Pepperidge Farm french it sure tasted like it.

Desserts are excellent, but somewhat limited. I can imagine the owners saying, "Let's have the most chocolate dessert we can think of for the chocoholics [which turned out to be double chocolate cheesecake] and something nonchocolate for everyone else [which turned out to be Key lime pie]. That ought to do it."

Birds of a Feather

Where: 1712 Aliceanna St.

Hours: Open Mondays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Credit cards accepted: MC, V

Features: New American cuisine

Non-smoking section? No

Call: (410) 675-8466

Prices: appetizers, $4.25-$6.95; entrees, $11.95-$25.95

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