REVIEW: Artful Gourmet Bistro converts new customers into regulars (Published 2009/Nov)

artful-gourmet-bistroJohn got introduced to the Artful Gourmet over a year ago by his friend Mimi (who is definitive “foodie”!). With the location out in Owings Mills “New Town” and about a mile from the mall, it took forever to talk Marty into finally making the trek here and giving it a try. It’s tucked way at the rear of a new strip mall whose buildings are designed to look like a row of stylish two-story brick townhouses (and there’s a large patio in front for al fresco dining in warmer weather). Inside, there is a contemporary casual look with bold colors and a mix of booths and tables that sport stylish black linens for dinner while a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows in front provides an airy feel. There’s also an adjacent bar/lounge with another dining room tucked behind it. An energetic, outgoing young woman (the staff is mostly women) greeted our party of four and provided us with a basket of tempting mix of sour dough and dark bread with butter to munch on while we waited for our drinks and perused the menu.

In line with the restaurant’s name, all of the menu offerings are named after artists or major periods of art (although figuring out the relationship between some menu items and their name wasn’t obvious to us! <Wink>). You’ll find 10 appetizers ($8-$12), one or two special soups of the day (usually $6+ for a bowl), half a dozen sandwiches ($8-$12 and many more options at lunchtime), several side salads ($4-$8) and entrée salads ($9-$14), 12 entrée specialties ($18-$30) and 6 signature pastas ($18-$24). With the special or pasta entrées, you can add a small side salad for just $2 or a Caesar salad for $3. Reaching a decision about what we wanted wasn’t easy because a lot of items caught our attention! Marty decided on the “Botticelli” ($22 – penne pasta with shrimp, mushrooms, pesto and topped with feta named after the Italian artist), John opted for “Tahiri” ($18 – Spicy Moroccan chicken w/ sautéed onions, eggplant, & raisins over saffron rice named after a Moroccan artist), our friend JT went for the “El Greco” ($21 – Whole wheat linguine topped w/ blackened shrimp, chopped tomato, peas and Romano named after the Spanish master), and our other friend and b-day guy, TP, decided on the “Maryland Masterpiece” ($22.50 – a 5 oz crabcake with sweet potato fries). All four of us took advantage of the option to add a salad as a starter – John went for house salad while the others voted for Caesar salad.

Our bargain salads were on the small side but hit the mark as a starter (especially considering how much of the delicious bread we had chowed down on.) When our entrees arrived, they proved a success all around. Marty’s Botticelli had lots of shrimp and the creamy pesto sauce was interesting yet not overwhelming (it was so “rich” that he ended up taking some home with him). John’s Tahiri woke up his mouth with a spicy tomato sauce that surrounded the chicken and veggies (he loved every bite and wiped the plate clean with some bread!)   JT’s judged his El Greco shrimp to be delicious. TP’s crab cake, as good as it proved to be, was outshone by his tall cylindrical wire container filled to the brim with some of the best sweet potato fries we’ve had (Yup, TP was generous enough to let us sample his cornucopia of fries! Good man!)

Our waitress exceeded our expectations when we mentioned that it was TP’s birthday. TP ordered cheesecake but it came to the table crowned with a candle on a large plate enscribed with “Happy Birthday” in chocolate! (Even nicer, his b-day dessert was on the house! Nice touch!)

The restaurant’s web site boasts that they provide “a dining experience that quickly converts new customers into loyal regulars”. Based on our experience, that hits the nail on the head. The winning combination of really tasty, interesting food,  friendly, attentive service and the attractive, colorful contemporary space had worked its magic on us.   Funny how when you have a great evening at a restaurant, it just doesn’t seem so far to drive to the next time!

FACTS?  Artful Gourmet (Owings Mills),9433 Common Brook Rd; 410-356-2606; www.artfulgourmet.com; Open daily 11 am – 9 pm Mon-Thurs; 11 am – 10 pm on Fri – Sat; 4 pm – 9 pm on Sun. Full bar; vegetarian options; ¾+ mile from Owings Mills mall; lots of free parking in back; This is a popular place – reservations on Fri and Sat evenings at prime time are a good idea.

Surroundings?

Pleasant airy contemporary space with lots of windows and richly colored walls with tables done up in black linens in the evening make for pleasant casual dining.

Food?

The gimmick of the artsy names on the menu doesn’t get in the way of enjoying good food with sophisticated touches that you wouldn’t expect in most “strip mall” type, casual restaurants

Service?

Excellent friendly, and engaging attentive servers

Value?

Moderate to Expensive with entrees in the $18-$30 range which left us feeling that Artful Gourmet provided good value for the money.   We like the bargain side salads with entrees and were impressed that they provided a complementary, really handsome dessert for our friend with a birthday.

Overall?

Recommended! A surprisingly pleasant, casual bistro with a contemporary feel that offers some very good food and service

 

 

Artful Gourmet Bistro on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s