Since The Corner Stable opened in Cockeysville in 1972, it has attracted hungry, happy crowds with its aim-to-please menu—heavy on fall-off-the-bone ribs and oversized crab cakes and light on anything that might be construed as newfangled or trendy.
Heavy Seas promises heady cuisine.
There was no denying the excitement when Matt Seeber was named executive chef of the new Heavy Seas Alehouse (1300 Bank St., 410-522-0850, heavyseasalehouse.com) near Little Italy. After all, this is a man who headed up one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants in Las Vegas. Colicchio is probably best known as a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef. If Seeber had his culinary approval, we could only imagine what his impact would be on Alehouse’s menu.
Artisan popcorn arrives on the local scene.
Caramel popcorn lovers, rejoice. You don’t need to make a trip to the beach for your favorite treat. Robin Garrison has come to your rescue with her new business, Popsations Popcorn Company. “Baltimore needed hot, fresh, gooey popcorn,” says the Towson native. “I decided to go for it.” She now makes gourmet popcorn—in flavors including caramel, chocolate caramel drizzles, and classic cheddar—in a commercial kitchen in Timonium the old-fashioned way, using copper kettles and wooden paddles.
Downtown Diane reins in her busy life by cooking.
Even in the calm and comfort of her own Pikesville kitchen, Diane Macklin is in perpetual motion. She makes coffee with her new single-cup Keurig brewer, throws open the doors of a cabinet to show off her Indian spices, rifles through a recipe notebook to share her favorite dishes, and quickly pulls items out of her refrigerator.
Our twelve favorites
Happy days are here again.
Economy be damned. This past year, Baltimore became a haven for new restaurants, many with impressive chefs in the kitchens. We expect these upstarts to have a big impact on next year’s “Best Restaurants” list. Old-timers would do well not to rest on their laurels. Here are the 10 new kids to watch.
Bond Street Social 901 S. Bond St., 443-449-6234. What we like: This contemporary, wood-encased, fireplace-loaded space encourages sharing with its “social” drinks and small plates, convivial staff, and friendly bars.
Chazz: A Bronx Original 1415 Aliceanna St., 410-522-5511. What we like: Actor Chazz Palminteri and chef Sergio Vitale formed an awesome partnership to present Italian-American cuisine, featuring coal-fired-oven pizza, complemented by a chic décor that reflects New York locales.
The old-school cocktail is making a comeback.
On a chilly January night, the line at Maisy’s in Mt. Vernon was out the door. No, it wasn’t a hot new DJ or big-ticket fundraiser. It was an event for the Forgotten Cocktail Club, a group dedicated to old-school drinks that was started by B&O American Brasserie bar manager Brendan Dorr and Blackwater Distilling production manager Jon Blair. “Everyone wants their food to be local and organic, and that has trickled down to cocktails,” Dorr says.
It’s become fashionable to shorten the lengthy names of some grape varieties for the sake of brevity. Many folks now refer to Cabernet Sauvignon as “Cab” and Sauvignon Blanc as “Sauv Blanc.” I don’t like it, but I can live with it.
There is a problem, though, with asking your friendly neighborhood wine shop for a good Pinot. There are different kinds: Blanc, Gris, and Noir. Save everyone the awkwardness and say the whole thing.
Not sure which one you want? Here’s what you need to know, using three wines as examples.
Sometimes, a sad event leads to a happy new beginning. That was the case for chef Luca Pesci, who lost his job after the death of his boss and the closure of the restaurant Boccaccio. He eventually landed at Vito’s Cafe in Cockeysville—a move that has benefited not only the former chef but the restaurant, too. Pesci gained needed employment, and Vito’s has now become a go-to place in suburbia.
This crab patty makes Baltimore proud
The search for a great crab cake never ends in Baltimore. When we heard that John Steven Ltd. (1800 Thames St., 410-327-5561) was boasting about the merits of its patty, we had to check it out. Indeed, the longtime Fells Point restaurant deserves its bragging rights. The crab-cake sandwich on a soft potato roll (market price; $15 for lunch on this visit) is a moist mound of broiled lump with little filler. It’s stacked with lettuce and tomato, and served open-face with a tiny container of Dijon and hand-cut fries (or kettle chips if you’d rather).
Towson dining goes upscale
Towson’s dining scene is what you’d expect in a college town—lots of burger, pizza, and sushi joints. But Brian Recher, owner of the Recher Theatre and the Rec Room and Patio with his brother, Scott, saw a need for fine dining. Enter Towson Tavern (516 York Rd., 410-337-7210), the brothers’ newest venue.
Taharka Brothers sets its sights on restaurants
Baby, it’s cold outside—and inside, too, at the Taharka Brothers factory in Hampden. The guys (Sean Smeeton, Felton Barney, Darius Wilmore, and several young adults they are mentoring to become co-owners) are churning out gallons of ice cream for distribution at area restaurants, including Phillips Seafood, The Dogwood, and Alonso’s. Their product is still sold seasonally at a Mt. Washington retail shop, now run by Uncle Wiggly’s, but the focus has shifted to wholesale.
We pick our very favorite 45 places—and rank our top 10
NOTE: This is our 2012 Best Restaurants feature. Our 2013 Best Restaurants list is here. Our 2011 list is here.
Channel your inner Giada or Emeril at these area cooking programs
What’s cooking in Baltimore? From sushi to Thai food to homemade pasta, pretty much every cuisine under the sun. Lucky for us, Charm City is blessed with an array of classes for fledgling cooks and experts alike.
People are heading home to the range for a couple of reasons. “The meteoric rise of the Food Network helped fuel foodie awareness and enthusiasm,” says Jay Blotcher, a media specialist for the Culinary Institute of America in New York, a leading training ground for chefs.
Heavy Seas beer expands its brand with a new alehouse
Back in 1989, Hugh Sisson opened Baltimore’s first brewpub, Sisson’s. After several years, he decided to leave the pub, move his beers to a larger platform, and established Clipper City in Halethorpe, which is the area’s largest brewery and home to Heavy Seas beer.
Now, more than 20 years later, Sisson is coming full circle by opening Heavy Seas Alehouse this month, a branded restaurant located in the old Holland Tack Factory.