Michael’s Cafe in Hunt Valley according to some is an “institution” in the Hunt Valley area.
The restaurant has a classy decor with a vibe that is befitting of a corporate crowd (see token signed Ravens helmet). When you walk in you see some local memorabilia subtly on display. You can take your client here and nobody will be offended or put off by how the restaurant is set up. You might feel under-dressed when you walk in though, since it has the “corporate” feel to it. You’ll see businessmen eating lunch or talking to clients as they both nosh over crab cake sandwiches.
I was there with a group for lunch, I had heard good things so I was excited to try this local “institution.” Michael’s has a impressive menu with fun appetizers and main dishes, but this being a work lunch crowd nobody was going to really stretch the limits of the menu. And that may ultimately have been the downfall of the meal, by sticking to the de-facto lunch menu i.e. the sandwiches and salads menu I was left with a feeling of what could have been for what ultimately was a disappointing experience.
I seemed to be the minority in thinking this was a blah experience though, so take that as you will. I ordered the soft-shell crab sandwich, since it seemed to be the most daring thing you could find on the sandwich menu. There was nothing wrong with the sandwich, but there was just nothing great about it either. With such a great protein like a soft shell crab you’re hoping for a delicious experience, rather it was pretty much a standard deep fried soft shell crab with little seasoning. The crab itself was prepared well, but it was just a little lackluster, the meal could’ve been lifted by something as simple as an old-bay infused seasoning with a lemon & mayo aioli. But rather you just got a soft shell crab on a roll. Boo.
Others tried the “award-winning” crab cake sandwich, which had a hearty serving of fresh crab meat to go along with a nice ratio of breading and seasoning. The seafood club was also a popular item at the table, while it was heavy on the mayo everyone said that it had a good flavor to make up for it.
Overall, Michael’s is a restaurant you’d like to give a second chance, the menu has great potential even if it’s sandwiches and salads lack imagination. If you go, stick to the real menu and avoid the sandwiches, this seems obvious but hey I was stupid enough to not realize my mistake before it was too late. Sometimes you think that a high-end establishment will bring imagination and flair to their sandwiches but rather it was kind of a throwaway.
Michael’s is situated on York Road near the Timonium Fairgrounds. They have ample parking and a polite waitstaff.