A world traveler/gourmand convinced a friend of mine that Shula’s is the best steakhouse in town. Now, there’s a challenge a food editor can’t ignore. So I dutifully agreed to meet my friend last night at the restaurant, which is in the Sheraton City Center Hotel on West Fayette St. I made reservations and spoke to a polite woman who took my information. The visit went downhill from there.
I should have known when I couldn’t find the hotel’s garage that the evening was not getting off to a great start. At this point, I should warn you not to go there in the next couple of days. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
I circled the downtown blocks in frustrating rush-hour traffic and finally found the garage entrance on Baltimore Street. Miraculously, my friend pulled into the underground parking right behind me. It’s not the most welcoming place. Eerily empty with low ceilings and pipes, I expected to see Scrooge’s ghosts while trying to find the door to the hotel lobby.
After being innocently misdirected by a staff member to the 11th floor, we backtracked to the lobby and found the swanky steakhouse, which is next to Shula’s 2 (its sports-bar counterpart). The casual spot was lively and bright. So you can imagine my surprise when we realized the upscale restaurant next door was dark and shuttered. What? On Shula’s behalf, a pleasant manager explained that the main restaurant is closed till Tuesday. Hotel occupancy is low, another employee explained. OK, I just wish someone had told me before I made the trip there.
But that isn’t the end of the story. After getting our parking tickets validated (thank you, Andrew), we headed back to the garage, only to find that there was no attendant on duty and you needed coin tokens to exit. We were trapped. We called a mysterious person on a garage phone, explaining our dilemma. The man who later came to our rescue was skeptical of our validated tickets (Hey, we’re talking free parking versus $10!). He later relented and parted with some tokens so we could escape. I’ll go back to the restaurant—but next time, I think I’ll take a cab.
Of course, by now, we were starving. So where’d we end up? We opted for Pazo in the Harbor East-Fells Point area. I’ve never been so glad to see complimentary valet parking in my life. There is a Santa Claus.