22 January 2010

Date Night: The Good, The Bad, The Phallic

Mrs. Micro partake in date night ever so often so this time we decided to try out the new Sam's Kid asian-inspired tapas restaurant in Fells Point. A friend of mine brought this place to my attention after Elizabeth Large gave it fairly high marks in her recent review.

We trekked down to Fells and found parking and walked/ran to the restaurant. We actually went right by it without even noticing our first time around. If we hadn't had the street address we may have never found it at all. The storefront looks more like an art museum, a theme that persists throughout.

The only indicator that this was the right place was the small unlit sign overhead:

Can you even read that? Yeah, neither could we. But nonetheless we had stumbled upon the right place. The decor was sparse and very uninviting, almost museum-like. As I mentioned before we felt like were dining in a closed down art gallery. The music was 90s club dance music and while we got a kick out of being sat to smash hits from artists such as Ini Kamoze, overall we felt it was detrimental to the what little ambiance the space provided.

I must use this opportunity to point out one specific example of the odd choice of furnishings. The following picture is my field of view during our meal. Focus on my wife and let your peripherals take in the statue in the background.

I don't even have to say it, do I? It's not due to the fact that I have a sick mind, that really does look like a big pink... Well, you know. See what I mean? Bizarre decor...

We each chose a glass of the house pinot noir to start our meal. As Elizabeth Large pointed out in her review they serve "of the moment" wines, but in our case the server didn't pour our wine in front of us. I guess that's one of the little perks of being a restaurant critic. The wine was good but easily forgettable. That seems to be a trend lately, unimpressive wine selections at restaurants. Luckily we have a fantastic bottle of carmenere waiting at home.

The first small plate we ordered was the blackened tofu which was accompanied by what the menu called "caramelized vegetables".

I wouldn't call those vegetables caramelized, more like lightly sauteed, but the dish didn't suffer from this. On the contrary, this dish was great and a lovely start to our meal. The tofu was nicely grilled and the accompanying sauce was sweet but not too sweet, too bad that wasn't the case in the dish that followed, but more on that in a minute. The caramelization added a nice earthy tone but I would've preferred more blackened bits. Presentation-wise this was a gorgeous dish. The bright red bell pepper played off of the green broccoli and the off-white tofu all presented in a fancy bowl. I would recommend asking for this dish well done but otherwise it an excellent starter.

My wife and had been craving calamari ever since we were denied at Pazo so we chose the crispy calamari as our second small plate.

Instead of the traditional calamari rings, Sam's Kid serves it in tempura battered strips and horribly overcooked ones at that. While Elizabeth Large felt this sauce worked with the dish, I felt it was way too sweet and one-dimensional. Thai chili sauce? That could've been weak honey as far as I could tell. I cried for some sort of heat to tamper the cloying sweetness of the sauce, but alas there was none. Maybe that is what prompted me to order our main course extra spicy. The texture reminded me of a burger I had at a cookout once which contained a thick fat beefy vein. These strips of squid were inexcusably tough and chewy. Looking back I'm not really sure why this didn't deter me from ordering the Pad Sew since it also contained calamari, I guess it was my determination to quell my craving. I pushed the dish away and since Mrs. Micro said she didn't mind it I promptly offered her the rest. Even to the most stalwart calamari enthusiasts I would recommend passing on this dish.

As I already mentioned we ordered the Pad Sew extra spicy for our main course. Mrs. Micro also tacked on a spicy tuna roll and while she wanted a california roll, I convinced her to try something a little more exotic so she agreed to try the eel california roll.

I had a hard time choosing between the Pad Sew and the Dan Dan but along with the calamari craving lately I've been gobbling up shrimp in every iteration, so that tipped the scales in favor of the Pad Sew. But alas, the same chewy veins of calamari plagued this dish as well. After picking them all out and setting them on a side plate, the dish was redeemed. I guess, overall their take on calamari is... not good. The chef at Sam's Kid definitely takes the request for extra spice seriously as the spice here was very apparent, just barely below overpowering. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and had a nice dusting of pepper.

The sauce here tasted similar to the sauce that accompanied the blackened tofu, which was not a bad thing. With the calamari out of the equation this was another great dish, and reheated very well for lunch the next day.

The soy sauce served at Sam's Kid is most certainly not of the low-sodium variety. It shocked my taste buds and almost made my mouth go numb. We used it in extreme moderation when dining on our rolls. The eel california roll turned out to be fantastic. I'm partial to the more exotic rolls so it's rare that I have a california roll to begin with but I do utterly adore eel so that really turned me on to this variation. The spicy tuna roll was topped with spicy mayo which I wasn't expecting. It almost seemed as if they were using it to cover up the fact that roll contained a very skimpy amount of tuna housed within the rice. My spicy tuna roll of choice is the one at Nick's Samurai Sushi in the Cross Street Market which is served with a fiery strip of fresh jalapeno. A close second would be the massive rolls at Todai in Fairfax. We make road-trips there for lunch. You can't beat all-you-can-eat sushi of that quality for around $18.

I got a box for the remainder of my pad sew sans calamari and we settled the check and braved the harsh elements. Our next stop? Max's on Broadway, just a few short strides down the street.

I love Max's. Their beer list is the stuff of legends. The last time I was there was for their German beer fest and we sampled some amazing brews and food. This time around Mrs. Cosm went for their house cabernet which tasted strongly of cherry. There was nothing subtle about it. It was like a glass of liquid cherry. I looked at the beer menu and was inticed by the term 'russian imperial stout' since I had had an amazing one there over the summer plus how could I ignore the name Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti.

Bonus points for being served in a badass medieval goblet. I'm sure there's a proper term for it but I'm too lazy to hit ctrl-t to google it. Don't I do enough for you people already as it is!? Getting a little greedy aren't we? Cripes. Anyway, this beer was delicious but I regretted ordering it after a few sips. I was in the mood for something light in both body and potency and this bad boy weighed in at whopping 9.5% abv. I loved it but barely finished half. I knew dessert was imminent considering the notorious Microcosm ever-present sweet-tooth. So we chatted up our barmates for a bit while the Mrs. finished her wine. So where did our insatiably desire for something sweet lead us? Why Maggie Moo's of course!

I'd only been to Maggie Moo's once before this and had one of my most memorable ice cream experiences when I ordered the Let's Play PB&J which featured peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter sauce, strawberries w/sauce, and Teddy Grahams. God I love Teddy Grahams. They're one of the few things I've found that are every bit as good as I remember eating them as a kid (another being Gushers. Remember Gushers? F- yeah Gushers! Dump an entire pack in your mouth and let the synthetic orgy of fruit-flavored goo commence.) Anyway, back to the mini bears of joy. Freakin' Teddy Grahams! Get the hell off my blog if you don't get down with Teddy Grahams, you ain't my people. I recently stumbled upon banana flavored Teddy Grahams in our local supermarket and just about soiled my knickers. I love bananas. I eat one just about every day. Upon discovering this unholy marriage of two things awesome I got a little too excited. And, as you can guess, the resulting purchasing and devouring of said grahams wasn't quite as euphoric as I'd hoped. Ah well, there's always honey.

Tangent? Yeah, sorry about that. Anyhoo I was disappointed to see it gone from the display of specials on the wall so I went about tasting this flavor and that. They have quite a variety as you can see:

Nothing really jumped off my spoon and kicked me in the crotch so I asked the lovely lady behind the counter if they still offered the PB&J special and she rummaged through some stacks of paper and located the original penning of the Magna Carta Libertatum... er, I mean the ingredient list to the Let's Play PB&J. As I watched her make it I browsed their insane array of potential toppings...

...and thought maybe I could one up myself so I had her throw in peanut butter cup chunks. Unfortunately I think this request threw off her ice cream slinging skills because she forgot the Teddy Grahams and between taking pictures and stuffing my face I didn't notice until we were halfway to the car. Nonetheless, the beast I had created couldn't be contained in a small size, this monstrosity required an overflow cup. Avert thine eyes, for this beast is the stuff of nightmares:

Horrifying, isn't it? It was flippin' fantastic but I wished my little bear friends were there to share in the carbo-loading celebration. Ah well, nothing a quick trip to the super market couldn't remedy, right? Until next time friends!

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Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery on Urbanspoon

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