Imagine the perfect food-lovers’ expedition: A ride through the rolling hills of Maryland horse country, and, at the end of the road, a quaint, pre-Colonial stone house turned restaurant. It’s a place that grows its own vegetables in expansive gardens on the property and sources its meats and dairy products from local farmers. Imagine that there’s a creative young chef in the kitchen, who, guided by that farm-to-table ethos, turns out dishes that highlight pure flavors and proper cooking rather than fussy preparations and heavy sauces.
Bringing back the past in food and spirit
Irene Smith is a go-getter. She was on board last year for the food-truck trend with her Souper Freaks mobile van. Then, she set her sights on the vacated dining space in the Woman’s Industrial Exchange (333 N. Charles St., 410-244-6450). In December, she officially opened the Woman’s Industrial Kitchen, an homage to both the comfort food once served by doting waitresses and to other Maryland women—famous and unknown. Tables, for instance, pay respect to Billie Holliday, Emily Post, and Nancy Pelosi with photos and passages. The menu reveres women, too.
Restaurants embrace the comfort-food dish
Pot pies may be a well-known diner staple, but lately they’ve been showing up on the menus of some of the fancier places in town, including Waterfront Kitchen in Fells Point. The new Woman’s Industrial Kitchen also serves pot pies, reminiscent of its former tea-room days. But when you mention pot pie in this town, many people immediately think of Casey’s Bar and Restaurant in Parkville (1742 E. Joppa Rd., 410-668-1616) and ask reverently, “Have you had their pot pie?” Now, we have. And it’s a doozy.
Without much training or education, Bill Bateman has turned a tiny bar into a multi-million dollar franchise.
Bill Bateman never donned a cap and gown, never shifted the tassel from one side of the mortarboard to the other, never clutched a diploma.
He’s revealing this, the regret evident in his eyes, as he sits at a table sipping a glass of HobNob Pinot Noir at the Parkville restaurant that bears his name. There are 17 other such restaurants scattered from Edgewater to southern Pennsylvania, a mini chicken empire that has rendered Bateman’s name synonymous with Buffalo wings in this city.
Local candy companies pull back the curtain and reveal how they're the real Willy Wonkas of Baltimore.
Around the Christmas and Valentine’s Day holidays, a curious thing happens outside a Wilkens Avenue row house near Saint Agnes Hospital. Before sunrise, people brave the frigid temperatures and line up in front of what appears to be a garage behind the house. Outfitted in winter garb, they’re in surprisingly good spirits despite being exposed to the elements. Baltimoreans have been making this pilgrimage for decades, because the row house—its blinds drawn and curtains pulled—doubles as a candy factory, and the garage houses the city’s legendary candy shop, Rheb’s.
Break the ice with these wines
Freezing conditions outside inspire us to have a closer look at ice wines. These decadent dessert wines are made from the juice of frozen grapes. Since most of the grape’s moisture is locked up as ice, only a small amount of sweet nectar is extracted when the grapes are crushed.
The Lost City Diner in Station North has finally revealed itself after being unwrapped from the brown paper that clad the building for, oh, so many years.
And whether you are in the mood for a juicy cheeseburger with fries slathered in gravy, a roasted pepper stuffed with quinoa and walnuts, or an authentic egg cream, you’re in for a treat.
Larry’s 1332 reflects its owner’s vision
Before the massive sandwiches arrive, but after the Maryland crab soup with knuckle-sized crab lumps is devoured, Larry Schwartz emerges from the kitchen at Larry’s 1332 (1332 Sulphur Spring Rd., Arbutus, 443-304-2841), the cafe he opened last summer. He’s dressed charmingly casual in a worn black sweatshirt as he stops at each table, not seeking praise but instead asking what he can do better. Sorry, Larry, but we wouldn’t change a thing.
The Verandah lands in Hampden
Radhika Sule, owner of The Verandah (842 W. 36th St., 410-889-0999) in Hampden, says “good timing” allowed her to open her cheerful Indian restaurant last August. When Soup’s On closed its doors on The Avenue, Sule was immediately ready to take over the space and offer home-style Indian fare. “I had been at farmers’ markets for years,” she says.
Historic mansion shop is steeped in tradition
Maybe Julia Faye Briggs should have read tea leaves to reveal her future. She would have found out that she was going to have a second career after she retired as an IT specialist for the government. Serendipity led Briggs to an empty space in The Stone Mansion (4901 Springarden Dr., 410-367-8253), an 1863 rambling home in the city’s modern-day Coldspring Newtown neighborhood near Sinai Hospital. “I wasn’t looking to open a business,” she says. “It was looking for me.” She opened Tea by Julia Faye Tea Room & Tea Store in 2010.
<p>Cooking in a renovated ’50s space gives Donna Hamilton purpose.</p>
With its wicker baskets, comfy couches, and piles of pine cones, Donna Hamilton’s Dickeysville home is warm, homey, and casual—a real reflection of the WBAL-TV anchor herself. “I can’t afford ostentatious,” she says with a laugh.
A new shop specializes in all kinds.
There was a need for cheese, explains Sharon Johnson of Federal Hill who recently opened Cheese Galore & More, a new stall at Cross Street Market (1065 S. Charles St., 410-244-5515). Johnson had been in sales and food management for 20 years before becoming the victim of company reorganizations and the economy. "Food is in my blood," she says. "I decided to try this." The shop's case is filled with delectable goat cheeses, Bries, Taleggio, and Stiltons. (The mango-ginger has been a sellout.) Even stinky Limburger is popular, Johnson says.
Sophia's Place has Polish favorites from the oven.
For a quarter century, people pining for a taste of Poland headed to Sophia's Place in Fells Point's Broadway Market. In September, the deli packed up its meats, cheeses, sausages, and jars of sauerkraut and mustard, and relocated from the market's north building to the newly refurbished south one (1641 Aliceanna St., 410-342-6105).
Drink and be merry with a holiday splurge.
Once in a while, it's nice to go a little overboard on spending, especially during the holiday season. We hunted down a trio of luxurious wines that will make a special gift for the wine lover in your life—or for you.
It's in a sprawling mall in the 'burbs. And it looks homogenized. But locally owned Barrett's Grill, surrounded by chain restaurants you'd recognize anywhere, has managed to carve out its own identity, offering a reasonably priced American menu that will appeal to the nearby movie crowd or visitors to the complex grandly called Hunt Valley Towne Centre.
The restaurant, in the space previously occupied by Greystone Grill, won't dazzle diners with fussy fare. This is food that Grandma would recognize: cheeseburgers, crab cakes, ribs, and meatloaf. What's not to like?