Monday, July 13, 2009

Little Havana - Baltimore

My friends and I are always on the lookout for a new place for Sunday brunch. Looking at the menu online for Little Havana's 13.95 (though it's actually 14.95) brunch deal, I was quite excited. The price includes your choice of any one of the restaurant's brunch entrees and bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas.

I am glad that I was properly filled with pitchers of booze, because the food and service on our visit was absolutely terrible. Everyone at my table received their food and I was left wondering what happened to the Cuban style fried eggs I ordered. After notifying our server I waited another 15 minutes only to be given a completely different entree. After sending this food back I did finally receive the food that I had ordered (a full 90 minutes after ordering) long after the rest of the table had been cleared and everyone else in my party was finished eating.

Looking at the plate that was presented to me, I wish I had just stuck with the drinks. The eggs I was served were so overcooked that they could have been used to tile the roof of the restaurant.

Being that I work in the hospitality industry I can understand the kitchen can get flustered and that servers sometimes make mistakes. What really bothered me was the attitude of our server. At no time was I apologized to in anyway for not receiving food at all and then being given an entirely separate dish from what I had ordered. Our waitress essentially gave me the impression that I was a huge inconvenience to her and she didn't care what I thought because she could just add automatic gratuity to our check!

They say you only have one chance to make a first impression, sadly Little Havana made one that will never have me returning. I have been here in the past for the night life and my only advice would be to stick with this place for the mojitos and drinks, avoid the waitstaff and food as best you can.

World of Eats Rating - 2/10

Little Havana Restaurante Y Cantina Cubana on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pho Dat Thanh - Towson

One conversation that typically comes up between my foodie friends and I is the topic of favorite meals. If you only had one dish left to eat in this world, what would it be? I consistently come back to only two dishes; Sichuan Hot Pot (which I have never been able to find on U.S. soil) and Pho.

The seemingly simple Vietnamese beef noodle soup is heaven in a bowl; and yet perfection is often illusive. Before I move any further I must insist that diners learn the proper pronunciation of this magical soup. Pho is pronounced "Fuh." I am constantly irritated by the ignorance of my fellow diners and butchering of my favorite food's name. I may come off as an elitist jerk, but I think that if someone is going to through hours of painstaking preparation to make me happy, I would like to at least show them I appreciate their work enough to pronounce the name of the dish correctly.

Let it be said that while in Vietnam last year I ate this dish in some form almost every single day and Pho Dat Thanh in Columbia easily equaled and sometimes even surpassed what I ate in the dish's homeland. I was absolutely elated when I learned that my favorite place for Pho perfection was opening a sister location on my doorstep in downtown Towson.

My party ordered a few simple appetizers of Bo La Nho (beef wrapped in grape leaves) and Thit Heo Nuong (grilled pork.) Both served with the ubiquitous Vietnamese dipping sauce Nuoc Cham, which adds a perfect interplay of sweet,sour, and spicy to each delicious bite.

The appetizers were merely a warm up for the main event though, as there was no doubt with anyone at my table what we had come for, a soul filling bowl of hearty Pho. I always opt for the large D1 on the Pho Dat Thanh menu. This variation is probably as close to what could be considered "the classic" as possible. It contains eye-round steak, bible tripe, brisket, and soft tendon along with the noodles all floating in a rich broth. There are several other variations if you aren't feeling adventurous enough for the nasty bits and there is even a chicken version available. When discussing the differences between Pho joints, the broth is usually the hottest point of contention and often the decision maker on what makes one place better than another. Simply put, Pho Dat Thanh in Towson had one of the most rich and densely complex broths that has ever graced my lips. It is quite simply a revelation. It may even be better than what is served in their location in Columbia, which is a bold statement indeed.

This place just opened last week in Towson and if you haven't made it there yet, run, do not walk to get your first bowl of bliss. Vietnamese cuisine is largely unavailable in northern Baltimore County, and I think once people get their chance to try it, they will be just as hooked as me. In fact, its lunch time and all this Pho talk has me hungry. I know where to go!

World of Eats Rating - 10/10

Pho Dat Thanh
510 York Road
Towson, MD

My apologies for the horrific quality of these cell phone pics

Pho Dat Thanh on Urbanspoon