When a new spot opens in Fed Hill, it feels like everyone takes notice. The revamp of Mad River into The Charles is definitely a welcome addition. The space is sleek and has ditched the sleezy late night vibe. Chef Cory Pastor has done a great job with the menu (which is no surprise, he came from The Nickel Taphouse which is one of my longtime favorites.) The menu has plenty of small plates to share which includes tons of creative vegetarian options.
My friend and I were in a ‘try everything on the menu’ type of mood, so we shared everything. (Totally the move here, all the plates are on the smaller size.) The meal started with Caprese Crostini which was great for sharing. The basil ricotta was so creamy, the tomatoes were fresh, but the real highlight was balsamic caviar. It was made from agar agar and gave the dish some lovely bursts of balsamic.
The first thing that really jumped out to me was the Nashville Hot Avocado. It’s tempura fried and spicy with bread and butter zucchini pickles. For sure, I need way more of this in my life. The creaminess from the avocado matched the spiciness perfectly. I was so into this dish.
Going off of a tip from a friend, we went with the Curried Gnocchi – this was a vegetarian dish done right! The sweet potato gnocchi was pillowy and soft and packed with tons of flavor. We inhaled this dish and it was the highlight of the meal for sure.
Another favorite were the Grilled Wings. They’re cooked using a sous vide tool so they are fall off the bone tender. The general tso sauce was super flavorful making this dish the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. I was also a huge fan of the broccoli that made this dish a fun riff on chicken and broccoli. I’ll pick saucy broccoli over most things so those bites were some of my favorite.
The waiter’s favorite dish on the menu is the Chicken & Waffle Sliders and I’m so glad we listened to his recommendation. The waffle was super light and the chicken was also so tender and smothered in sauce – just how I like it. Another winner from Chef Cory’s kitchen.
Fries are my weakness. When I saw Cool Ranch Fries with French Onion Mayo I knew these needed to be in my life. The fries were so crispy and I could not get enough of the dipping sauces. I kept going back and fourth between the french onion mayo and the spicy ketchup.
Obviously we couldn’t leave without trying dessert. They all sounded so good. We opted to start with the more traditional sounding desserts, the Spilt Milk + Cookies. This dish for sure brings out your inner child with chocolate chip cookie dough over a light vanilla custard. This was such a classic tasty combo.
The manager said his favorite dessert was the Honey Sundae and of course this was also delicious. The seared poundcake was so sweet in the most perfect way, and the scoop of burnt honey ice cream was slightly bitter but played with the cake so nicely. But the best part of this dish was the honey cake croutons. Oh my goodness. Get to The Charles definitely save room for dessert.
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Looking for a place to eat? Check out Rachel’s Baltimore Restaurant List.
While this meal was paid for by The Charles, all views here stated are my own.