210 E. Centre St., (443) 453-9139, platesbaltimore.com
Plates, a restaurant and bar attached to the Mount Vernon Merritt gym, might seem like a bad idea. But instead of focusing on healthy food, like its previous incarnation, Plates is decidedly agnostic when it comes to fitness trends, which-make no mistake-is a good thing for the diner.
Case in point: the mac 'n' cheese waffle ($9.95) on the brunch menu. This thing is a beast. Expecting a waffle with mac 'n' cheese on it, we were surprised when the waitress brought out (be warned, it took about an hour to get our food) a waffle made of mac 'n' cheese, heaped with a steaming mound of pulled pork, topped with two poached eggs. Then there was a corn reduction on that. It was mind-blowing, but, unfortunately, it was the only thing that was.
The Bloody Marys were bland and weak enough that we wanted to smack ourselves on the forehead and say "I could've had a V8." The breakfast burritos ($8) were good-the eggs were perfectly cooked, the bacon tasty, the tortilla fresh and hot-but served without sauce, the meal is dry. The burritos are a good metaphor for Plates as a whole: Everything is solid up until the last step. A little more vodka and some horseradish and pickled stuff in the Bloody Mary, some sauce for a burrito, and a little more care in general, and it would be a regular on our brunch rotation. As for feeling guilty sitting in a gym, gorging ourselves on mac 'n' cheese waffles and Bloody Marys . . . fuck that, we don't feel guilty.