Dining review

Delta Hotels' Poe-inspired TellTale restaurant doesn't miss a beat

For The Baltimore Sun

The TellTale restaurant in the Inner Harbor is as bright and cheery as its namesake story by Edgar Allan Poe is dark and dreary.

The minimalist dining room and bar at Marriott’s Delta Hotels Baltimore Inner Harbor is named after Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and exudes contemporary warmth with sunshine-yellow chairs, plush sofas and bare tables. The staff is pleasant and engaging.

Still, we weren’t expecting a memorable meal. Most of the hotel restaurants we’ve visited have been average. TellTale changed our mind.

The restaurant’s prettily plated, locally sourced American food had us sitting up and taking notice after our first introduction. “This kitchen knows its stuff,” we whispered to each other.

The avocado caprese toast was a striking beginning, with smashed avocados studded with cubes of fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil from the hotel’s rooftop garden. Dark zigzags of balsamic vinegar gave it a tangy burst of flavor.

The steak crostini also wowed us. Tender slices of marinated pink beef were draped over toasts smeared with herb cheese and then decked out with ribbons of crispy onions.

The crab stack made good use of our state’s favorite crustacean. Succulent lump meat was molded atop a base of mangoes and avocados and encircled by soft pita rectangles. It was an excellent combination.

Our entrees were just as interesting. The flatiron steak, sizzled with butter, was juicy and limber. It was embellished with admirable roasted herb potatoes and a generous mélange of sauteed vegetables, including zucchini, squash and red-pepper strips.

The salmon was another plus, with an 8-ounce center-cut fillet resting on a dynamic goat-cheese risotto. The accompanying asparagus stalks were carefully prepared.

When the bacon Florentine pasta was set on the table, it looked like a tangle of boring noodles. We soon found out that the al-dente fettuccine was much more exciting. It was shimmering with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, laced with steamed spinach and hiding savory hunks of bacon and onions. We didn’t want to share this dish.

The warm bread pudding was made in house. The compelling baked dessert — set in a sweet, syrupy puddle — was adorned with thin slices of apples and oozed the hominess of Grandma’s kitchen.

The brownie sundae was wonderful. A square of fudgy cake was stacked with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Two picture-perfect strawberries crowned the decadent creation.

The bar offers craft cocktails with names reflecting Poe’s works, like “And Never More” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” It also has draft beers, beers in bottles and cans and a modest list of wines.

The hotel, which opened earlier this year in a historic 1904 building, has incorporated Baltimore’s past in various ways, including the restaurant nod to Poe, the author we claim as our own.

From all appearances, the kitchen takes the restaurant’s name, TellTale, to heart. It didn’t miss a beat on our visit.

TellTale

Rating: 4 stars

Where: Delta Hotels Baltimore Inner Harbor, 1 E. Redwood St., Inner Harbor

Contact: 410-234-8950, marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/bwidi-delta-hotels-baltimore-inner-harbor/

Open: Kitchen: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; Will serve breakfast starting in mid-September from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Appetizers, $7-$12; entrees, $12-$25

Food: American

Noise/TVs: The dining area, which is separated from the bar by open shelves of glass vases, can be noisy; four TVs

Service: Our enthusiastic waitress often bounded toward our table like a friendly puppy, but she was helpful throughout our meal.

Parking: Street parking, valet parking

Special diets: Can accommodate

Reservation policy: Accepts reservations

Handicap accessible: Yes

[Key: Superlative: 5 stars; Excellent: 4 stars; Very good: 3 stars; Good: 2 stars; Promising: 1 star.]

lsuzanne@comcast.net

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