Delicious menu in a daring location

Restaurant Review

February 25, 2007|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Restaurant Critic

Food *** (3 stars)

Service *** (3 stars)

Atmosphere *** 1/2 (3 1/2 stars)

Robert Alipanah is a brave man. He's opened a beautiful restaurant with imaginative food in a location that hasn't been kind to previous restaurants. For Robert Oliver Seafood to succeed, he's going to have to figure out a way to attract customers when no events are going on at the Meyerhoff or Lyric. Spike & Charlie's couldn't do it in recent years and finally closed in 2004. The restaurant that followed it, 23rd Degree, disappeared before most folks realized it existed.

If Robert Oliver Seafood had opened elsewhere - say, Canton - people would be beating down the doors to get inside. If nothing else, they would be drinking pomegranate mojitos at the handsome bar, with its chic waterfall of colored lights. The water motif is picked up in the shimmering curtains at the huge windows in the dining room, part of a striking contemporary redesign using rich, dark woods and serene colors. A restaurant this good-looking ought to have been an instant success, but it's not - at least not yet.

Maybe I'm worrying prematurely. Part of the problem has been the unusually cold weather. Why go out to eat when you can crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head? Surely that will change, now that March is almost here.


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