Although he can (and does) eat all over the globe, influential wine critic and F&W contributing editor Robert M. Parker, Jr., is particularly happy at a restaurant called Charleston in his hometown, Baltimore (1000 Lancaster St.; 410-332-7373).
If chef Cindy Wolf is daunted by cooking regularly for one of the world's most famous palates, her bold, confident approach doesn't show it. A few Parker favorites that reflect Wolf's predilection for full-on flavors are crispy cornmeal-crusted oysters with lemon-cayenne mayonnaise and a fried green tomato "sandwich" with lobster and lump crab hash. (Wolf, by the way, also does well by her city's ubiquitous staple, the crab cake.)
The wine list at Charleston wins Parker's accolades as well. Assembled by Tony Foreman, Wolf's husband and partner, it's among Baltimore's best, notable for its reasonable prices and impressive selection, says Parker. Even small sections such as "Italian Whites" showcase top producers like Schiopetto, Valentini and Jermann. Of special note are Foreman's Rhône pages, with an impressive 22 vintages of sought-after single-vineyard Côte Rôties from GuigalLa Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne. And, as of this fall, Charleston customers looking for a great bottle to take home can walk up the block to Bin 604, a new retail wine venture from Foreman and fellow oenophile J. Miller. The store will specialize in hard-to-find wines from around the worldat some very fair prices, if Charleston's list is any guide (604 Exeter St.; 410-576-0444).