When I first heard that we were going out to dinner in a section of Baltimore called Fells Point, my face tried to smile and I lowered my head and curled my lip.
I had been there once before and unfocused memories of college came into my mind’s foreground, a time when I visited a friend who studied at Loyola University.
My friend and I learned a lot that night, most usefully the fact that if you drop a liquor bottle in the street on your way out of the store, you can bring the top piece (the unbroken seal) back inside and explain that you dropped it in the street and they will let you exchange it for a new one. Good people!
I had no trouble with my purchase this time around, though, and before we drove over to Fells Point I made a drink and sat in my ridiculous room at the Hyatt (see video on Facebook), writing in the office and looking out the window at the view of Inner Harbor.
Ready for a night on the town, we stepped out and headed east into the neighborhood of Fells Point. Loaded with restaurants, bars, and nightlife, this is a great place to find yourself on a Friday night (write me for further recommendations). We decided to dine at Meli Bistro – a restaurant that uses honey to add a (subtle) touch of sweetness to every dish on the menu (Meli is Greek for “honey”).
What else could I order but the crab cakes? It was my first meal in Baltimore and they are the claim-to-fame of Maryland – and I’ve got to be honest: They sure backed up all the talk. The sauteed sweet potatoes were an incredible side to go along with the crab, especially given the use of honey in the recipes. Although initially skeptical, I found the side of vinegar to enhance – not completely wash out – the sweet elements of the dish.
According to locals, there is no one “go to” spot for crab cakes – it’s one of those things that depends on preference of preparation, spices, and perceived value (cost versus crab). I haven’t shopped around, but it seems like a fun gauntlet that I will perhaps run through one day, maybe spend a weekend tasting different versions across the city.
If my experience at Meli is any indication of the quality and competition of crab cooking that goes on, I’d better plan to walk from place to place.
I certainly did not have any trouble cleaning this plate, nor spending an hour after the meal enjoying glasses of pear champagne. The next morning I couldn’t help myself: I ordered Crab Cake Benedict at breakfast in the Hyatt Inner Harbor.