American Food

Harbor East: Charleston

Charleston has been on my Baltimore restaurant bucket list since I moved here in 2008. I’m not sure what took me so long to get here because everything was amazing and the service was impeccable. I was pleasantly surprised with the fact that Charleston wasn’t stuffy. I was expecting to feel slightly out of place and young, but that wasn’t the case at all. Chef Cindy Wolf actually makes it a point to visit the tables of everyone in the dining room to make them feel at home. I really appreciated this and it was lovely to chat with her for a few minutes.

Charleston is one of the six Foreman Wolf restaurants in Baltimore and unsurprisingly, I was as much a fan here as I have been elsewhere.

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Charleston

You have the option to order as many courses as you like and dessert is complimentary. Well, my friend and I opted to order four courses each and share the dishes (because everything looked so amazing). First, Chef sent out an order of complimentary Fried Oysters. These were light, came with a lemon-cayenne mayonnaise and weren’t chewy in the slightest. It was a great bite to start the meal.

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Fried Oysters

Chef also sent out a portion of Artichoke Soup with a Gruyere Pastry. I had never had artichoke soup before, it was so creamy and had a nice strong artichoke flavor which I loved. The pastry was subtly cheesy and incredible.

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Artichoke Soup with a Gruyere Pastry

One of the dishes that Chef is known for is the Rich Lobster Soup with Curry. This was probably my favorite bite of the night. The creamy broth was slightly spicy from the curry, but not at all overpowering. And it was rich without being too much. It was also served with a healthy portion of butter poached lobster.

Rich Lobster Soup with Curry

Rich Lobster Soup with Curry

We also ordered the Prime Beef Steak Tartare. With capers, shallots, Tabasco, and chives the dish was a nice balance of savory and salty. I’m a sucker for steak tartare and this was another great rendition.

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Prime Beef Steak Tartare

One of my other favorite bites was the Fresh Chanterelle Mushroom Sable Tart. A buttery, cheesy tart was topped with snail butter (OMG), and tender mushrooms. We wanted to lick our plates clean when we finished this dish.

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Fresh Chanterelle Mushroom Sable Tart

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Fresh Chanterelle Mushroom Sable Tart

Another highly recommended dish was the Shrimp and Grits. The buttery thick grits had a nice salty-bacon-y taste from the ham and the shrimp was cooked perfectly. We could not get enough of the grits in this dish.

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Shrimp and Grits

Because it’s summer, we couldn’t turn down the Local Sweet Corn Flan. Corn is one of my favorite summer veggies and during the height of the season it’s even better. The corn was so sweet and paired nicely with the carrot puree and roasted beets. While not as light as a salad, this veggie forward dish was a great way to break up the meal.

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Local Sweet Corn Flan

The Risotto was also recommended to me so we made sure to order that as well. The preparation when we visited contained artichokes and I was a huge fan of the meaty artichoke bites intermingled with the risotto.

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Risotto

As we moved through the menu, we also opted to try the Pan-Roasted Wild Halibut. It was cooked perfectly – so flaky. And the lemon beurre blanc was buttery and fantastic. The fish held up to the sauce well and with the mushrooms. It was such a lovely bite.

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Pan-Roasted Wild Halibut

I’m a sucker for buffalo, so I couldn’t turn down the Grilled Hawkeye Ranch Buffalo Tenderloin. The meat was so tender and the fried green tomato added some nice textural contrast and the tomato chimichurri gave this dish a pop of freshness. But the veal reduction may have been the star of this dish. Similarly to every other sauce we tried, it was fantastic.

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Grilled Hawkeye Ranch Buffalo Tenderloin

Dessert is included with the tasting menu and I was really craving a chocolately bite. I went with the Chocolate Mousse Cake. The cake was chocolately and it was the perfect ending to any meal, but the real standout was the spearmint ice cream. It was so refreshing and I don’t think I’ll be able to look at mint ice cream the same going forward.

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Chocolate Mousse Cake

We also shared the Vanilla Bean Poached Local Peaches and Raspberry Meringue to capitalize on the flavors of summer. The peaches were so tender so they played nicely with the crunch from the merangue. This was probably one of the best seasonal forward desserts I’ve had all summer.

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Vanilla Bean Poached Local Peaches and Raspberry Meringue

While we were selecting our dessert options, our waiter picked up on our interest to try the Passion Fruit Creme Brûlée and brought it out for us. This was unlike any creme brûlée I have ever had. The passion fruit cut the sweetness of this dessert and the pineapple sorbet on the top was the star.

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Passion Fruit Creme Brûlée

Charleston is located at 1000 Lancaster St., in Harbor East

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Looking for a place to eat? Check out Rachel’s Baltimore Restaurant List.

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Final Sweet Bites

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