A few friends and I have decided to try a new restaurant in Baltimore each week. In addition to my weekly “photo updates,” I am going to attempt to also review each of the restaurants. Here’s the first: The HELMAND. It is Afghan cuisine and very unique. Located in the heart of Mt. Vernon on Charles St., it is completely worth the trip! I have now been there twice, the second time way better than the first. First time, the food was amazing and really great wine (half price bottles on Wednesday nights), but the company was atrocious. Maybe one of the worst first dates I have ever been on – I felt like I was being interviewed and interviewing him the entire night. It was so not organic conversation at all. Not to mention, it was the first date I went on after my engagement ended, so chances are that I was equally as awkward. He perseverated on my pumpkin addiction and would not stop talking about it. After such an awkward dinner convo, I was pretty sure he could just take me home and we could be done with it. As we walked back to his car (a mustang convertible – kinda weird for a 20-something engineer but whatever), he decided to aggressively pull me in for a kiss on the street. WOAH! Awkward dinner convo followed by more awkward street kiss…negative. Enter Bike Shop Boy the following week…goodbye awkward boy. Anyway, I digress.
Back to The Helmand:
The highlight of this place is the pumpkin appetizer. It could basically be a dessert – roasted chunks of pumpkin, sweet and savory with a delicious yogurt sauce. The ravioli topped with ground beef is also a must for an appetizer. For an entree, I highly recommend anything with the lamb! They had a new dish I tried that included slow roasted lamb in a spicy sauce with apricots, basmati rice, and a roasted vegetable that I think was more pumpkin. It was an awesome combo of flavors! My friend had the beef and lamb meatballs; also a solid choice. Although I have not tried it, I will be ordering the vegetarian dolma at my next visit. It’s stuffed eggplant with a sauce. Many tables around us were feasting on this and it looked amazing – apparently it’s one of their more popular dishes.
But, seriously…whatever you do…DO NOT leave this restaurant without a cup of Turkish coffee, a blend of great spices and strong, smooth coffee. AND, the special ice cream. I can’t even describe it without dying for another scoop. Taste it: creamy, thick vanilla ice cream infused with the perfect touch of cardamom, dates, and mango. Oh. My. Goodness. I just went to ice cream heaven.
The atmosphere is great: intimate, mood lighting, quiet and attentive service. We had a bottle of Tempranillo that was great and fairly reasonably priced. While the cuisine is definitely unique and unlike anything you may expect, it’s a fabulous dining experience and food that will be sure to make you want to return! Check out their website for info: The Helmand
Happy Tasting! Looking forward to next week…location undecided!