Last week seemed to be a week for eating and going out - a lot! This week looks to be a little quieter. One night last week, we went to Sobo Cafe on Cross Street in Federal Hill for dinner and had a great meal and some good wine.
We got to Sobo at about 8:00 and it was pretty crowded. There were three of us and it was one of the bitter cold nights. We were placed at a table near the door, and when we asked to switch tables, one of the waitresses wasn't too happy, while at the exact same time, the other one said of course we could change tables. We had to wait a minute or two while they cleared the table, but we were much happier with the warmer location. If you've been to Sobo, it's pretty small - maybe 15 tables and the bar.
Since it was bitter cold out, I wanted something warm, so I ordered a bowl of the pumpkin-mushroom soup and the mac and cheese. The soup was spectacular... I didn't really know what it would taste like, but the pumpkin was subtle and the mushrooms gave it a meaty feeling. At the very end of the bowl, I put about a quarter of a teaspoon of my red wine into the soup, which gave it more depth. I like to play with my food. My friends ordered the pasta in a chile alfredo creme sauce and the salmon. They each also got salads. We also ordered a bottle of wine. The total bill came to $57.00, which is a very reasonable price for three.
The menu at Sobo is pretty limited and changes seasonally. Their wine list is extensive, with some good selections. Brent, the owner, is a great guy with some good ideas, including showing works from local artists at the restaurant.
My two issues with Sobo Cafe are the service, which can range from warm and friendly to downright aggressive and nasty, and the lack of an exhaust fan. Because the kitchen doesn't have a stove, just a convection oven, they're not required to have an exhaust fan. I've been there a couple of times when my eyes have watered from the smoke. This time, my coat smelled like pan-fried steak for a couple of days. My friend wouldn't even wear her coat into Sobo, despite the 15 degree weather that night.
Aside from those issues, Sobo Cafe is worth a visit for the great food. They don't have a website, so I can't link you. This picture is from a dining out website, so isn't great. Also, Brent mentioned that he might be painting the walls soon.