The Baltimore Stroll was what I expected- great food, long lines, and assembly-line style service. The perfect 70-degree weather coupled with the variety of offerings offset the waiting time and made for a charming experience. However, my most memorable moment at the stroll actually came when I strayed from it.
Near the conclusion of the stroll, around 46th and Baltimore, one of my friends wanted a drink. After seeing an extensive lassi menu through the storefront window, we wandered into the Mood Café. The decor was casual and unassuming- white walls and a smattering of couple of colored tables and chairs. It was essentially empty, save for the owner, a middle-aged Indian man, and his coworker. His face lit up upon seeing us, and he rushed over to his computer and toggled the mouse, showing us Mood Café’s 5-star Yelp rating he already had already up on the screen. Thoroughly convinced of this small restaurant’s abilities (not that buying a drink wasn’t planned already), my friend ordered the honeydew lassi. I was intrigued, having rarely heard of a beverage involving honeydew. The owner gave her a large drink (certainly worth the $2.99 price tag), and made a little extra for my other friend and I to sample. The beverage was refreshingly cool, sweet, and used real fruit, so I decided to peruse the menu. Peach? Rose? How is that even possible? My friends and I discussed the options out loud, and the owner was listening. He approached us with a plastic spoon containing a glob of brownish textured pieces. We looked at the spoon skeptically, and then took a whiff- he had brought us genuine rose pieces. It was strange having something so fragrant on my tongue, and was surprisingly sweet.
I ended up choosing the mango lassi. The owner was so pleased with our patronage, that he made two, giving a free full-size one to my other friend. I’m generally just a moderate mango fan, but this lassi was simply incredible. I kept sipping and sipping on it the entire walk back, waiting for the fresh mango flavor to dull my taste buds, and it never did. Before we left the café, the owner made sure to mention a couple of his normal food dishes. He ensured we knew what samosas were, then chaats, highly recommending something called the “crazy chicken chaat.” He loved teaching us about his offerings, and his overeager demeanor was simply endearing. He also made sure to stress that if we didn’t like anything he made, from the lassis to the chaats, he’d make us something else, free of charge.
Normally I wouldn’t have wandered all the way down to 46th and Baltimore, but I’m certainly glad I did. The Mood Café treated me to a reminder of how kind people can be when they genuinely care about your experience and enjoyment of their food. Three lassies, rose petals, and a mini Indian food lesson later, I know I definitely will be returning to the Mood Café in the future.