The cake was fudgy, with rich chocolate flavor, but the texture was slightly grainy. Still, the sauces on the side complemented the cake and overall, it was a tasty end to dinner.
Throughout the meal, our waiter kept up a cheerful attitude, but from time to time he disappeared, leaving us wondering where our food and drinks were. He maintained his enthusiasm even after we paid the bill, sending us off with a hearty handshake and a smile.
Our meals were satisfying, but following the lags in service, the handshake felt out of place.
But as we headed back out to the harbor, we reasoned that at least tourists popping into J. Paul's for a few oysters or a meal will leave with the impression that Baltimore's a friendly town.
Back story: J. Paul's reopened its Harborplace location last June after an eight-month renovation. With a family-friendly cafe vibe, an extensive raw bar and capable casual favorites on the menu, the restaurant is a good fit for its touristy location.
Parking: Street parking and multiple garages
Signature dish: The JP Combo is a casual surf-n-turf platter. A slab of ribs smothered in impressively balanced sweet-and-spicy barbecue sauce sits alongside a meaty crab cake. Crunchy french fries and tangy apple slaw round out the tasty — and filling — plate.
Where: Harborplace, 301 Light St.
Contact: 410-659-1889; http://www.j-pauls.com
Open: Winter hours, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; summer hours, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Credit cards: All major
[Key: Superlative: *****; Excellent: ****; Very good: ***; Good: **; Promising: *]