1709 N. Charles St., (443) 835-2945, colettebaltimore.com
When news hit that the owner of Bottega would be opening a French-inspired sister restaurant just a stone’s throw over on Charles Street, anticipation was high. After multiple visits, it’s easy to see how it’s become so popular so quick, mainly because it takes on the same winning approach as Bottega: Serve elevated but unpretentious, salt-of-the-earth food in a comfortable environment, with a staff that treats its patrons more like they’re at a dinner party than a restaurant. The food coming out of the kitchen, mainly French cuisine, is equally soul-warming. The gruyere beignets have been the talk of the town with good reason. But dig deeper and you’ll be rewarded with a seasonal menu that’s not afraid of off-cuts and strong flavors. During one meal, we were in love with the beef heart and octopus salad; and on another, the country ham jus that dressed a head-on shrimp and kale salad had us almost asking for a container to-go.