An open letter to Stephen and Michele Thalheimer, owners of the Water's Edge:
When my friends and I picked up the temporary menu at your new Fells Point bar and restaurant, we saw your invitation to "let us know what you think." Thanks for asking.
We ordered so much food, our waitress had to move our lighthouse candle-lamp to the next table. That made it a little dark in our corner of the brick-accented dining room, decorated simply in a maritime theme. (By the way, our smart, helpful waitress was a good hire.)
We thought your menu had a good mix of Baltimore barroom favorites, like burgers and steamed shrimp, and original dishes that showed some flair, like the seafood spring rolls with grilled peach chutney.
Unfortunately, you had run out of that appetizer. We instead nibbled on deep-fried chicken wings that were crisp on the outside and moist inside. We liked them, but Buffalo natives might not find them sufficiently drenched in tangy sauce.
Your crab dip had more crab flavor than most, and a slightly different personality with its topping of melted Cheddar. We devoured the Boboli pizza with spinach pesto and perfectly cooked shrimp, scallops and flaked crab. Be sure to keep that on the menu.
As for the salads we tried, the spinach with roasted peppers, pecans, goat cheese and honey balsamic dressing was a fine combination, but it couldn't compare to your sublime house salad. We loved the quartered artichoke hearts and the tangled nest of frizzled onions on top of fresh mesclun greens with creamy truffle dressing. Whoever came up with this earthy, inspired mix deserves a raise.
Could it be the same person responsible for the pulled pork sandwich with Southern Comfort sauce? The shredded meat on a toasted kaiser was lusciously moist and sweeter than usual from the infusion of peach-laced liquor. We liked the hand-cut, skin-on fries, too.
After those wonderful dishes, we were shocked by what might have been the worst filet mignon medallion we've ever tasted. The beef seemed mealy, even chalky. My friend had to cover it with his napkin. The buttery corn-potato hash with chunks of shrimp was wasted on this piece of meat.
The other entrees we tried were OK: a simple jambalaya and a straightforward linguine marinara with roasted vegetables. Neither the jambalaya nor the marinara sauce had the rich medley of flavors that comes from a long simmering. But the spicy-hot andouille slices and plump shrimp and scallops made the jambalaya worthwhile, and the roasted squash and carrots gave the chunky tomato sauce some depth.
You blew us away when it came to dessert, though. We tried all three choices that were made in-house: the buttery pecan tart; the moist, cinnamon-swirled bread pudding studded with fresh raspberries; and the warm chocolate pudding cake baked in a tiny bundt pan. The last reminded us of a fallen chocolate cake that hadn't quite fallen.
To sum it up, Water's Edge, when you're good, you're very good. And since you've been open less than two months, that's a promising start.
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The Water's Edge
Address: 906 S. Wolfe St. 410-327-4416
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner
Credit cards: All major cards
Prices: Appetizers, $4.50-$8.95; entrees, $2.50-$17.95
Ratings system: Outstanding:****; Good ***; Fair or uneven **; Poor *