Artie’s, Fairfax

Before a long trip to Baltimore, my young dining companion and I had a Saturday brunch at Artie’s 

Not having had any caffeine injections that morning, I started with my Diet Coke ($3, cheerfully refilled), while he wisely stuck with his usual ice water. The bread basket, previously generous, has now been reduced to four items: two tiny slices of jalapeño-cheese bread, and two donut holes which this time around, were as good as ever.

Wanting something to split for an appetizer, we got the Blue Crab Fritters ($9) with grilled corn salsa, and lobster ginger butter – a plate of three round troughs, each holding a deep-fried fritter sitting atop its own dipping sauce, and each about the size of a golf ball – these were very generously sized fritters, filled mostly with leg meat, and a good use of the whole crab if that’s the restaurant’s strategy. They weren’t cheap, but by no means were they “cheaply made” either – despite not having much (any?) lump, they carried their weight well. I saw Matt was starving, so I demurred, and let him enjoy the third since I knew there was a lot of food coming afterwards.

For entrees, we’d both ordered the same thing for once: Pecan Crusted Trout ($16), two large pieces of trout – a lot of food for the money – battered with ground pecans in the crust and pan-fried (I assume), and served with “the original” chardonnay citrus sauce and basil redskin mashed potatoes. If I remember correctly, these also came with something green on the plate to round out the meal. This was a wonderful dish, especially for $16, and the only thing I’d change would be to remove the whole, candied pecans that gratuitously strewn atop the presentation – they didn’t really go with the cuisine, and just weren’t necessary (in general, I tend not to like sweet or spiced nuts thrown onto a savory dish), but it was easy enough just to push them away. The trout was served in such large portions that I didn’t finish mine (I could have, but would have been stuffed), and the citrus sauce was tart enough so everything retained its flavor interest, even towards the end of the meal when things were getting colder. For sixteen dollars, you could sure do a lot worse than this.

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