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Monday, June 21, 2010

Houlinan's

We met up with our friends Jeff and his wife Marsha for dinner and drinks at Houlihan's using our Groupon. The restaurant has a casual contemporary feel to it. After a round of musical chairs in an attempt to find a comfortable and large enough table, we finally settled in the bar because of the happy hour specials.

We ordered two boozy teas, pitcher size (which was really just a bigass mug) and then ordered the regular order of spinach dip for an appetizer while we waited for our friends.

The menu here is pretty decent in size. It had a metal cover and page after page of food and drink options. The last two pages were...weird. There was a list of songs they play and hilarious horoscopes.

The appetizer came pretty quickly. It was 8 triangle slices of crispy flat bread sprinkled with cheese and seasonings and then drizzled with sour cream. Beside that was a small ramekin of steaming spinach dip. This stuff was wonderful. The dip was creamy and smooth, the toppings on the flatbread was just a hint of spicy and was complemented well with the dip.

Upon the arrival of our friends we squeaked in a couple more drink orders and then settled on some food. I ordered the stuffed chicken breast, Dave got the almond crusted tilapia, Jeff ordered the wedge salad with sirloin, and Marsha got the pan seared scallops. The food arrived beautifully. It was truly a lovely presentation...except for Dave's which was just...weird.
My dish was fantastic. It was a breaded chicken breast, butterflied and stuffed with cream cheese and herbs, then baked to perfection. It came with a side of mashed potatoes and crisp green beans. The cheesy insides ooozed out when I cut into it, which is just what you want whenever something is "stuffed" with something else. Delicious. The only complaint I have is that the green beans could have been cooked for about another minute, however they were very fresh and seasoned very well so it's a tiny complaint. The potatoes were homestyle, just enough lumps to feel homemade and slightly cheesy, garlicky and buttery. It was a perfect match. My dinner was big enough to have again the next night, which was fine by me.

Jeff's prime steak and wedge salad came with a 5 oz. top sirloin, with an iceberg wedge, smoked bacon, spicy pecans, roasted golden beets, grilled asparagus, creamy gorgonzola cheese, scallions, warm polenta croutons, buttermilk bleu cheese dressing. Jeff said that while everything certainly tasted good, the steak was super tiny, the polenta croutons were small and there were only two and the tiny slice of cheese was wonderful but just simply not enough.

Marsha's dish, the seared Georges Bank scallops, came with lemon-asparagus risotto, baby greens, and basil-infused olive oil. Her dish came with 6 medium-sized scallops which she said were cooked quite well and the risotto was very tasty. Again, as with Jeff's meal, there simply wasn't enough of it.

Dave's meal is too hilarious for me to discuss and you can find his reaction in his 2 cents section below.

Now, we were sort of nervous about our waitress at first because it didn't seem she wanted to pay attention to us, however she became increasingly better as the meal went on and by the end of it, we were very pleased with the service we received.

The drinks we ordered were really great. I got the long island iced tea, and Dave got the Tennesee tea which was peachy and tasted like juice.

Overall I'd say this place is a great place to go for apps and drinks after work, but lousy for dinner. The dinners were overpriced, possibly microwaved and just not worth it for the cost. However, we were all very pleased with the apps and drinks as well as the waitstaff. Overall I give it 2.5 noms.

Dave's 2 Cents

So, I promised myself I'd never review a chain restaurant, and after this experience, I doubt I ever will again.

I ordered the, and i quote, "ALMOND CRUSTED TILAPIA, Amaretto beurre blanc, fresh berries, grilled asparagus."

What I received was this. Microwaved fish, with a scalding hot outside and cool inside, extra almond crust, and STRAWBERRIES!

I feel sorry for the pallet of the guy/gal in the back that thought this was eatable!

I asked the waitress exactly why there were strawberries on my food, and she said, "They ran out of the berry blend, they subbed this out.

First off, restaurant 101, NEVER sub ingredients until you have spoken to the customer. Dislikes, food allergies, or just plain food taste conflict.

Common chef, if you run out of sugar for a receipt do you use conventions sugar or brown sugar instead?! hell no.

Short order chef, YOU FAIL. "86" a dish if you've run out of the ingredients.

And maybe try an oven next time and not a microwave.

Readers: This place is located in the middle of Baltimore's biggest tourist trap, Inner Harbor. They run their business of 85%or more on non-repeat business. Who CARES if they piss off travelers? They wont be back. And who cares about the locals when most of the money is coming from tourists?!

Avoid of you want a nice dinner, if you want some good appetizers and booze, try it out.

Houlihan's on Urbanspoon

1 comments:

Jeff said...

Hi Guys, very accurate depiction (I should know, I was there). Would just add that the waitress was friendlier over time like you said, but then she vanished after a while and we had to flag her down to get the check. She seemed surprised that we wanted to leave after a mere hour or so after the meal. To be fair, it could have been because the last game of the NBA championship was on, NOBODY else was moving, and she probably thought we planned to watch the game there. But then come back with a water pitcher once in a while, m-kay? Anyway, Jenn's meal was prob the best; Dave's was bizarre; ours were tasty but somewhere between appetizer and dinner sized portions.

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