Sunday, August 19, 2012

Restaurant Review-"Metropolitan Coffee House"

Finding a relaxing, casual restaurant can be tricky, especially in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore.  Known for its (late) night life scene, Federal Hill attracts a very young crowd and the food/bar scene reflects that.  

Luckily, the area does have a few low-key cafes and bars that offer more than blaring techno music and $5 Bud Light bottles.  Metropolitan Coffee House is just one of those inviting places that makes it the quintessential neighborhood hangout.


Relaxed Neighborhood Hangout
Metropolitan Entrance
With some family in town last week, we decided to have a quick meal at Metropolitan since most of the other restaurants near my house serve generic pub food or sometimes-polarizing ethnic cuisine.  It turned out to be just what we needed.  Located at the edge of the Otterbein neighborhood on busy Charles Street, Metropolitan has a very bold exterior and an old, dark interior.  If you are looking for an intimate place to have a few craft beers with close friends, it's the place to go.

We settled at our table near the front and were immediately greeted with a very imposing menu.  Check out all the choices, and that's just the appetizer menu!  One of the adages of the restaurant industry is that you should specialize: do a few menu items very well, but don't extend yourself.  Metropolitan's menu may seem weighty, but they certainly didn't mail anything in.  Everything we had was pretty good.


Massive Appetizer List
The appetizer menu was a page unto itself, but the seafood lovers at the table quickly settled on the Tuna Carpaccio.  The dish came out warm, which was surprising for an item usually served cold or at the very least chilled.  Nevertheless, we loved the large chunks of avocado and fresh tomato salsa coupled with thinly sliced raw tuna....the perfect appetizer!  Once we polished off the tuna, it was time to tackle the nearly six page entrees menu.


Tuna Carpaccio With Avocado Salsa
After some "intense" back and forth discussions with my table, Ms. CCT opted for the Trivia Salad.  We have both had good experiences with the dinner salads here before, so it was a natural choice for her.  She enjoyed how light it was yet it was still filling enough to be considered a meal.  In checking out the rest of the salads offered at Metropolitan, you could probably say the same thing.  Rachel's Tuna Salad (not pictured) is another solid choice from that menu.


Trivia Salad-Filling And Healthy
The other member of our party and I decided that we wanted something off Metropolitan's large seafood menu.  I usually can't stand when we have a large group dinner and multiple people order the same thing.  It greatly limits the amount of tasting and sampling that we can all accomplish!  This was no issue because Metropolitan's seafood menu was as huge as their other pages.  (Do you see a common theme developing here?)  

I settled on the intriguing sesame-encrusted salmon, while the other person opted for grilled mahi-mahi with mango salsa.  The mahi-mahi was expertly done, and the delicately prepared salsa made it a great summer dish.  My sesame salmon was much more average.  The cut of fish was great, don't get me wrong, but the salmon was infused with a bit too much soy sauce.  Once you bit past the layer of crunchy sesame seeds (great texture juxtaposition), you were greeted with quite a bit of soy sauce.  If they toned that down a bit more, it would have been a hit.


Sesame Salmon With Fresh Vegetables & Mashed Potatoes
Mahi-Mahi Covered With Mango Salsa
Minor squabbles aside, Metropolitan is one of my favorite spots in Federal Hill.  The food isn't spectacular, but the menu is enormous and everything is usually done well.  All of that aside, it's certainly a great place to have dinner/drinks with friends.  The wine selection is lenghthy and affordable.  The craft beers, though, separate it from most other bars in the neighborhood.  With a constant rotation and variety of choices, the beer connoisseur will have an absolute field day at Metropolitan.


Huge Bottled Beer Selection
Impressive Craft Beer List

Metropolitan is a relaxed institution in the Federal Hill neighborhood.  I'm glad it will be around for a long time  It's a nice escape from the usual hard-partying scene that Federal Hill attracts.  What are your thoughts?  Drop me an email if you've been to Metropolitan before.  Until tomorrow everyone.  Stay hungry!

-Charm City Traveler

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