The Crab Shanty stretches out across the street.
The Crab Shanty (3410 Plum Tree Drive, Ellicott City, 410-465-9660), that long-lived crabhouse on Route 40, has moved its adjoining carryout businesses to the lot across the street to make room for a coming curbside fast-food enterprise. Housed together, its Pig Pickers (barbecue) and Sea King (seafood) carryout stores share a shiny new space with a few tables scattered across its tiled floor; a couple of picnic tables outside offer extra space for lunchtime visitors.
I originally got drawn into following the Tour de France every July because of Lance Armstrong's string of victories, but I remain entranced by the event because of its drama, its sweep, and even its scenery. This year's Tour should be particularly enjoyable, as most of the usual dominating favorites are out of the running. I'm looking forward to following the early leader's progress, and whether he'll be able to hang on in the mountain stages. I'm looking forward to seeing which teams will put on the best show, regardless of standing.
A tiny carry-out cafe gives Federal Hill revelers a late-night option for food.
The awning of the Soho Eatery (1504 Light Street, 410-685-2989) puts two cheerfully smiling faces inside the O's of the cafe's name. And for such a tiny place (there are a couple tables, but it's really geared more toward carry-out), Soho gives customers a lot to smile about. There are the refreshing, icy, fruit smoothies. There's the crisply grilled teriyaki, pictured here, a step up from the bland, baked version found at so many local Asian restaurants.
"Excuse me? Ma'am? Excuse me?"
It's crunch time for wedding planners, judging by the invitations in my mailbox. I enjoy going to weddings, for they are events filled with love and happiness and (occasionally) good music. They are also a good excuse to carry my silver flask like some sort of rogue, just in case someone needs help with nerves. And I like checking out the flowers. Standard bouquets? Custom-matched to the dresses? Plastic? Focus on all that flowery delicacy long enough, and a certain thirst develops—but don't worry, I'm not about to recommend what goes with rubber chicken.
Illusions Magic Bar brings class and straightjackets to Federal Hill.
Father-and-son team Ken and Spencer Horsman partly opened Illusions Magic Bar & Lounge (1025 S. Charles Street, 410-727-5811) to give Spencer a venue in which to hone his magic act between tours. (The 21-year-old child of two circus clowns had already done Letterman by the time he was 8.) And sure enough, at 10 p.m., the winsome Spencer jumps on the bar to run through his good-humored patter and a couple of card routines, ending with his pièce de résistance: escaping from a straightjacket while hanging upside-down from the ceiling.
Mosaic brings its party indoors.
For the past three summers, outdoor lounge Mosaic has been a favorite oasis for sipping drinks and dancing under the stars. But with the opening of a sleek indoor lounge (4 Market Place, 410-262-8713), this Power Plant Live venue has become an ill-weather option. The tented outdoor area will still be available in warmer months, but it's obvious the establishment is now redefining itself as a more traditional nightclub.
Let the little lady sleep in for once—while you and the kids whip up breakfast in bed!
Few holidays provide us with as many warm fuzzies as Mother’s Day. After all, who better to honor than the lady who packed all those school lunches, wiped all those runny noses (even involuntarily, and on her sweater hems, no less), and listened to the same senseless knock-knock jokes over and over—and laughed every time?
Artifact Coffee is earning bravos for its breves.
As of press time, Woodberry Kitchen, the new Clipper Mill restaurant owned by Nelson Carey and Spike and Amy Gjerde, was slated to open in late May. But for now, we're reveling in its smaller side project: Artifact Coffee (2010 Clipper Park Road, 410-464-8000). The beans are both Fair Trade and organic; your cuppa joe is 100 percent freshly French pressed. Baked goods are from local stars Stone Mill Bakery, Rose's Cookies, and Patisserie Poupon. We are particularly fond of the Maple Breve, an intoxicating mix of espresso, pure maple syrup, and a dollop of dairy.
Perhaps because I am not a particularly large person myself, I've always enjoyed the deceptively dainty aspect of high tea. Sure, individually, each part of a tea can be adorably diminutive—the wee finger sandwiches, the delicate porcelain teacups, the bite-sized pastries—but taken as a whole, tea is for neither the faint of heart nor small of stomach.
Do you have a problem committing to self-improvement or resolutions at New Year's? I do. It's not a convenient time of year for such things. Residual holiday cheer (and stress), plus the long stretch of dreariness from January to April, doesn't exactly prime one's pump for renewal. But this time of year is lousy with renewal, and I'm in the mood to give myself a serious overhaul—not of my weight or sleeping habits, but of my wine preconceptions.
An Asian-themed chain spreads to Baltimore.
It's taken a while, but P.F. Chang's has finally come to Baltimore (600 E. Pratt Street, 410-649-2750), setting up residence in the Inner Harbor building that houses a Best Buy and new Filene's Basement. Before this, the nearest outpost of this quasi-Chinese chain was the one opened in Columbia in 2001. This one is a little smaller, and given a more intimate feel through the use of low lighting and extra soundproofing. Staff is friendly and upbeat, and the small, bright bar is a good stop for festive, candy-colored cocktails.
A monthly dinner draws a big crowd of tiny guests.
It's dinnertime at Birches Restaurant (641 S. Montford Avenue, 410-732-3000) and a pack of babies has taken over the dining room. There's crying, and gurgling, and even the occasional dirty diaper—but that's okay, because it's Baby Night. Every second Wednesday of the month, parents and their charges take over the top floor of the Canton restaurant. There's a playpen to keep the walkers and crawlers safely confined, and beer to keep the parents safely sedated.
A new bar crosses borders.
As its name suggests, Carlos O'Charlie's Sports Bar and Grill (3508 Eastern Avenue, 410-675-1485) is a mixture of random—but amusing—elements. There's the 1970's-era décor—lots of exposed wood and light fixtures that would have fit in well in the Brady Bunch's rec room—and the Latin-American pop tunes playing on the sound system. There is the Mexican and Salvadoran fare (the pupusas are great) sharing menu space with standard American items like steak and wings.
The St. Michaels Food and Wine Festival draws creative chefs and devoted gourmands from far and wide.
Nestled along the Chesapeake Bay's ubiquitous creeks and coves, the town of St. Michaels on Maryland's Eastern shore has been synonymous with clamming, crabbing, fishing, and dredging for oysters for centuries. But it may come as a surprise to some that this land of the skipjack is also a gourmand's delight. And nowhere is this more apparent than at the annual St. Michaels Food and Wine Festival.