712 Frederick Road, Catonsville (410) 788-7878
Umami is a new restaurant right on Catonsville's main street. Self-described as a global bistro, in reality it's a little closer to home. Dishes like qorma and shawarma dot the menu alongside American standards such as pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot wings. It was a particularly sweltering day when we decided to give it a try. An herby tabouli salad and falafel seemed like it would hit the spot. That seemed to be what everyone else thought too, because every available seat was taken. Which made it awkward when, after we ordered, the counter person told us to "go ahead and sit down." Wondering who's lap she was offering up, we stood and waited. Luckily, we were saved by quick service. The falafel sandwich was served on naan and resembled a sub. The falafel itself was fresh and crumbly and not too overfried. It came with pickles, which was unexpected but good. Later, we were informed that this is completely normal in the Middle East. Who knew? The tabouli was satisfying as well. Although it had an abundance of fresh parsley and lemon, it suffered from a lack of fresh mint. If you're looking for exotic, Umami may disappoint. But for a crowd with mixed tastes, you can't go wrong.