Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Angelina's - Reviewed By The Five Paragraph Bitter Food Critic.
All this Mary Prankster talk inspired me to grab some friends and run up to the Land Of Pleasant Living and eat a genuine Maryland-style crabcake. Much like the beloved-yet-retired Mlle. Prankster, we ignored the
Blue Skies Over Dundalk last night and headed straight to the Hamilton neighborhood to Angelina's. Angelina's has been on the short list of top crabcake joints in the region for years. The place has won Best Crabcake Awards from many of the Baltimore-area critics, and in Charm City, that's more important than a lobbyist's Blackberry.
Long-time owner Robert Bufano sold the restaurant in 2005, and the new owners swore that they would maintain Angelina's high standards. They definitely maintained Angelina's high prices. Crabcakes are seldom cheap, usually about $14 for a sandwich and $25 or so for a two-8oz cake platter. That's the going rate for the crabcakes found at G&M, Gunning's, Olive Grove and Timbuktu near BWI Airport, the current gold standards for Baltimore crabcakes. Angelina's charges "market price" of $22 for the sandwich, $30 for a two 5 oz. cake platter, and $40 for two 8 oz. cake platters.
That's a damned expensive market. Like, that market makes Wegman's, Balducci's and the Gucci Giant in Potomac look like a bargain. But in the search of le crabcake parfait, no price is too high.
I was more wrong than Jessica Simpson at a spelling bee. The $29 Steak and Cake Combo seemed the best deal - an 8oz filet, a 5oz crabcake, and a couple of side items. For that kind of money, I was expecting a transcendent marriage of delicate crab, Old Bay and non-intrusive, yet unique filler. What I got was a dried-out piece of fishnet that happened to have some crab and boiled carrots in it. It had all the taste and consistency of a musty dish sponge. The filet, while cooked to the proper requested temperature of medium-rare, was barely above room temperature and had no discernible taste. The side items of wild rice and green beans were lousy, at best, and tasted like they just emerged from a can or boil-in-bag. The only saving grace of the meals was the above-average Maryland Crab Soup, but $4 soup ain't savin' no $29 meal in Balmer, hon.
All of us who schlepped up to Baltimore from the District had the same complaints. The service, while friendly enough, was slower than a little kid trying to tell a long story. It took over an hour to get our entrees, and 30 minutes to get soup. We were the only diners in the restaurant, save for two lone women in search of a late snack. I wish I could say it was just a bad night at the restaurant, but the empty dining room, lousy food and an outdated website hawking their mail-order crabcake business more than the restaurant itself, indicates that Angelina's best days are behind them.
10 Whammies! out of 355. 3 Whammies! were awarded to the 3 cups of good Maryland Crab Soup, and 7 Whammies! were awarded to my courageous friends who survived this crap. The 355 potential Whammies! represent our bill, not including gas, tolls and the overall general feeling we shoulda gone to the Old Ebbitt Grill.