Wallet falls short of many restaurants

ASK ELIZABETH LARGE

December 25, 2005

My partner and I both enjoy good food; we are both avid cooks, and we flatter ourselves that we know good cooking from excellent, and bad from just mediocre. My question stems from the fact that neither of us is well-to-do (she's a social worker, and I'm a free-lance musician). Consequently, we can rarely (if ever) afford to eat in the restaurants you review, and so my reading of your reviews is analogous to reading romance novels or science fiction stories -- i.e., escapist fare.

And so, with no malice intended, what I want to know is this: How many of the restaurants that you review would you eat in if you had to pay for the meals yourself?

Herman Meyer

Not many. Most are out of my price range. For more affordable choices, see Karen Nitkin's reviews in the Thursday Live section. Beyond that, I have trouble paying for expensive meals I can easily make at home, like a great steak dinner. (Much as I love it when someone else is paying.) I'm more likely to go to an ethnic restaurant for food that I don't know how to cook or is simply too much trouble. Of course, I have my favorite places for a special occasion. And like everyone else, I spend too much money eating out when I shouldn't because I'm too tired to cook.

Could you recommend a dinner / theater or dinner / comedy club in the Baltimore area for a special night out? Thanks.

Jim H.

Unfortunately, the Baltimore Improv closed, and I believe it was the only comedy club here that also served dinner, although the Baltimore Comedy Factory is above Burke's Restaurant, which is pretty convenient. As for dinner theaters, your choices are the Oregon Ridge Dinner Theatre, the Timonium Dinner Theatre and Toby's in Columbia. A second Toby's is supposed to open in Canton in March. I don't review dinner theaters (although your question has me thinking about it), so I can't speak for the food.

What are the best wheelchair-accessible restaurants in Baltimore? It would be nice if there were a search feature on the restaurant page of The Sun's Web site that could allow patrons to search for restaurants that are easily accessible. I think criteria for "accessible" will vary from person to person, but my personal criteria would be: Easy entrance to restaurant, nicely spaced tables so that a wheelchair user can easily get to a table without having people to stand up and push their chairs out of the way, close-by parking with handicapped spots. Thanks very much!

Mary Munoz

You put your finger on why we stopped including wheelchair-accessible information in our restaurant guides. We found the criteria did vary too much. Your best bet is to call the restaurant directly (preferably at an off hour) and talk to the manager about what you need. And it's good to be specific. One reader told me a restaurant owner said his place was wheelchair accessible, but what he meant was a waiter would carry the customer up the steps.

One last thing: I got lots of e-mail and phone calls this month about what restaurants were open for Christmas dinner. I wasn't much help -- other than suggesting hotel dining rooms and Chinese restaurants -- because restaurants don't let me know. Maybe in 2006.

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