Feasting on the roasted suckling pig at Tio's takes dining to a sublime level. This is a truly magnificent and memorable signature dish. Double mounds of delicious, tender pork are served with a rich gravy, black beans and warm applesauce. My husband and I will be talking about this entree for a long time.
We also reveled in the fillet of sole with sauteed bananas -- a beautiful presentation with sauteed squash and fresh string beans. We chose garlic shrimp, another of Tio's signature dishes, as one of our starters. It was terrific. The other starter was a delectable Mediterranean seafood cocktail of crab, lobster and shrimp. Hidden under the seafood were fresh cantaloupe, ** pineapple and apple.
Dessert is a must here. After all, who can resist a slice of Tio's famous pine-nut cake? A rolled spongecake filled with whipped cream and topped with nuts, it's big enough for two to share.--SL
The Wild Mushroom, 641 S. Montford Ave., (410) 675-4225. *** $$1/2
If you've got a hankering for mushrooms, head to this trendy Canton restaurant, where the offerings are as traditional as cream of mushroom soup or as exotic as chocolate-covered mushrooms for dessert.
We went in search of the grilled portobello mushroom sandwich that has gotten rave reviews in the past. Alas, it is not featured regularly on the menu anymore. The kitchen, however, will whip it up for you without a whimper.
Unfortunately, the sandwich -- served on marble rye -- wasn't as glorious as we anticipated. Even with melted chevre and tomato, it was rather bland. The accompanying sweet-potato chips were the highlight.
We were much more captivated by the smoked salmon tostitos prettily drizzled with wasabi mayonnaise, the grilled chicken and roasted tomato salad and the mussels in garlic sauce. Do save room for the seductive Cuban coffee creme brulee.--SL
The Woman's Industrial Exchange, 333 N. Charles St., (410) *** $$
There's nothing trendy about a chicken salad platter -- unless you count first-rate ingredients and supreme freshness, which make the Woman's Industrial Exchange far more than the nostalgia trip many think it is.
The Exchange is known for its chicken salad, and justly so. Accompanied by tomato aspic (correctly eaten with dabs of mayonnaise), deviled eggs and a homemade roll still warm from the oven, the all-white-meat chicken salad platter is not just comfort food, it's a classic. So is any dish made with the Exchange's own golden pie crusts, such as chicken pot pie and creamed chicken on a pastry shell.
There can't be more than a handful of restaurants anymore offering charlotte russe for dessert, but the Exchange does this too, and does it well. The russe, as much a signature dish here as the chicken salad, is a homemade yellow cake separated by two large scoops of ice cream swimming in fudge sauce and topped with whipped cream. It makes a grand finale.--M&SD
Pub Date: 9/19/96