By Xani and Erin
The other night we had the pleasure of spending an evening at Three... in Patterson Park. I say "spend an evening" and not just "eat" because, from the moment we stepped through the doors, the staff of Three... (and that's the last time we'll use the ellipsis, just to make things easier) made us feel like old friends, and the night just got better from there.
After hearing good things from some trusted friends, and reading this review in the City Paper, Three got a place on the highly exclusive BCD List of Places to Eat (note: we're always looking to expand this list-- email us with your favorite little gems in the area!). On Saturday night EP was willing to take a dinner break from studying, so we headed off to the East Side of town...
Walking into Three we were immediately struck by the friendliness of the staff and the coziness of the space. Owners Richard and Michael introduced themselves, and suggested we have a drink at the bar while we waited for a table to open up. While we enjoyed a cocktail and perused the menu, we chatted with the staff, who were all VERY friendly, silly, and fun. An coordinated attempt to tickle a staff member had the whole bar laughing. Michael's ability to remember names and faces awed a fellow patron. And so it went, until it was time to venture to the other side of the restaurant and get ready to chow down! Luckily the handy portal cut into the brick above our table gave us a chance to keep an eye on the action at the bar:
Three's menu is comprised of a variety of small plates, a few entrees, and daily game and seafood specials. We ended up ordering four small plates and one entree so we were sure to have room for dessert.
Shortly after ordering (and refreshing our drinks) out came the first dishes: a roasted beet salad with pine nuts, greens, and something else delicious that escapes us at the moment, and an arugula salad with pan-roasted fingerling potatoes. Both salads were excellent. The beets had a delicious, earthy taste and a great texture. And who doesn't like pine nuts? No friend of mine! But the arugula and potato salad was AWESOME. It was Xani's favorite dish of the evening. The fresh, spicy arugula leaves were dressed with an intense vinaigrette, and topped with perfectly roasted, crispy wedges of potato. But the genius in this dish was the vinegar/potato combination; it's the classic salt/vinegar/potato flavors we love so much on french fries! We had flashbacks of big cups of Thrashers fries on the Boardwalk, grease and vinegar soaking the paper and turning it translucent... of course this was a much classier version, with the arugula as the perfect addition.
Next up we had cauliflower fritters and veal meatballs. The cauliflower was great-- it had a very light coating and the cauliflower itself retained its integrity, as opposed to being a big mushy blob. The aioli that came alongside was quite good, and our only critique was that the cauliflower itself could have been just a tiny bit saltier. Fried foods can always use a little more salt, you know?
The meatballs were also delicious. First off, they were not the golf-ball size (or bigger) meatballs we were expecting, they were tiny! And tiny=good, not only because they are cuter, but because it creates a higher surface to volume ratio, meaning more crunchy outside per bite! The meatballs themselves were flavorful and moist in the center, with plenty of crunchy exterior, and they were served in a rich, decadent sauce that tasted like a highly-reduced veal/mushroom stock. Superb.
Tiny meatballs-- we should have included a quarter for scale!
Finally, out came the one entree we had ordered-- Dijon mustard-crusted short ribs served with potato puree. The kitchen at Three not only knows how to do meat, as the short ribs were just as tender and flavorful as could be, but they sure as hell know how to do potatoes! Another hit with the potato puree-- perfectly smooth and creamy.
Even thought Michael tried to entice us into ordering a couple more savory dishes, we ended up glad we resisted, because we had room for a little something sweet and of course, a cup of coffee. We ordered a slice of Kentucky Derby Pie (chocolate, caramel, nuts, and potentially crack) from Dangerously Delicious Pies (we've already sung their praises here), and a bowl of awesome Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream--yum! We later found out that the ice cream was also made off-site at the Sylvan Beach Ice Cream Company, an organization that gives back to the community by helping young adults "develop lives of purpose and self-sufficiency"... though ice cream! Genius!! And delicious....
After dinner, Michael tried to get us to stay for another drink and some more "face time," but we politely declined because we were so full and sleepy! We did chat a bit more with him, though, about BCD, Three..., the Baltimore restaurant scene in general, etc. before saying goodbye. It was like saying farewell to an old friend-- we didn't want to leave! But we promised to come back, and that we will. Special thanks to Michael, Richard, David and Ron for making us feel so welcome and feeding us so well! See you soon!
X & E