You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the way it treats potatoes. They’re clearly considered much more than just an obligatory starch to fill up plates at David’s in the new Live Hotel adjoining Maryland Live Casino. The kitchen prepares potatoes with such finesse that they’ll make you feel like embracing an all-carb diet.
We would have gladly made a meal out of three versions we sampled, starting with a grease-free, beautifully shaped mound of flavorful hash browns you can get with some breakfast dishes in this 24-hour, seven-days-a-week dining room.
Then came steak fries, but nothing like the kind you often find that seem to have only a vague, pasty substance inside. The ones at David’s tasted richly, thickly of potato; the perfectly crisp, lightly seasoned exterior proved just as satisfying.
And finally the whipped potatoes, which had such a home-made vibe that I could have mistaken them for ones made in our home by my husband (a stellar cook in my book, naturally). The silky texture and nuanced flavor demonstrated the kind of attention to detail that we admired all through our visit to David’s.
The vibrantly designed, high-ceilinged restaurant is named for longtime Baltimore developer David Cordish, chairman of the Cordish Companies, the builder and owner of the casino and hotel at Maryland Live. Walls are adorned with photos of Cordish and friends. And the menu reflects favorite dishes from his travels, which explains the mix of American, Asian and Mediterranean items.
It’s a spacious, welcoming room that ought to appeal to hotel guests, casino gamblers and Arundel Mills shoppers alike. The attractive bar does its part to turn on the charm; we enjoyed well-crafted martinis and other cocktail standards.
Breakfast is available around the clock. Eggs Benedict, a dish that can so easily end up rubbery and bland, gets loving attention here. The eggs were ideally cooked, the hollandaise sauce fresh and velvety, the Canadian bacon ham-like in thickness and character.
A great go-with for breakfast or any meal here is the skillet cornbread appetizer, which had a hearty consistency that avoided the dryness of many a cornbread. And it came with a bright strawberry jam filling a cute little cap-top canning jar that exuded such freshness you could imagine a kindly grandmother fixing up a batch every day in the kitchen.
Other appetizers won admiration, too, especially a stack of finely fried mozzarella slabs bathed in just enough marinara sauce. Chicken strips turned out to be a little mushy beneath the coating, but an entree of succulent fried shrimp delivered a nice crunch and hearty flavor.
Chopped steak is the kind of dish you might expect to be confined to “Throwback Thursday” postings on social media. David’s demonstrates how much new life there can be in this vintage preparation.
The hefty, juicy portion that arrived alongside those divine whipped potatoes burst with robust beef flavor, aided by a well-made gravy and a dab of rich porcini butter. Memorable, too, were the stalks of fresh asparagus, properly trimmed and peeled, that completed the plate.
Of course, a place that takes this much trouble over first and second courses is going to shine with desserts.
The pineapple upside-down cake skirted into super-sweet territory, but its light texture impressed, as did the partnering coconut gelato. Better still was a feathery cheesecake with chocolate in the crust and, supporting slices of dark chocolate, in the icing on top meant to remind you of a famous Baltimore cookie. It will continue to remind me why David’s is such a winning restaurant.
Maryland Live Casino Hotel, 7002 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover
Prices: Appetizers $10 to $16; sandwiches and entrees $13 to $38
Ambience: An inviting, casual-chic room with high ceilings; it can get noisy when busy, but conversation is still possible.
Service: We enjoyed attentive and very amiable service, but there were signs around us that other staffers were not yet as well-honed.
Special diets: They can usually be accommodated.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
[Key: Superlative: 5 stars; Excellent: 4 stars; Very good: 3 stars; Good: 2 stars; Promising: 1 star]