A beloved Jamaican restaurant re-opens with its charm intact.
When Carolyn's Cafe (aka Ras Doobie's) closed earlier this year in Ridgely's Delight, you could hear foodies moaning all over town. The tiny and tucked-away Jamaican eatery had been a favorite of many (and a perennial Cheap Eats winner within these pages) for its spicy jerk chicken, generous vegetarian options, and friendly island vibe. But moaners, take heart: The place has re-opened as the Penn Street Tavern (213 Penn Street, 410-752-5858), and the new owner happens to be a longtime friend of Ras Doobie.
The new Rumor Mill offers cocktails and more in Ellicott City.
It's obvious that the owners of the new Rumor Mill (8069 Tiber Alley, Ellicott City, 410-461-0041), located where Sidestreets used to be, are thinking big. The menu ambitiously hops around the globe, pairing Asian-inflected raw tuna with guacamole and tortilla chips, or barbecue-coated grilled shrimp with soba noodles and miso broth. A lot of things don't quite hit their mark, but like any good rumor, at least it isn't boring. The fried rice balls, filled with a stuffing that changes nightly, are a reliable companion to the place's creative and fun cocktails.
I'd been holding off on Canton Dockside, because former tenant Canton's Pearls closed so quickly, making me worry the spot was another doomed location. But this new venture had plenty of customers when we arrived, and obviously had been busy all day: When we showed up at 5:30, we barely snagged the last dozen crabs in the house. At $39 a dozen, they were understandably small, but still sweet and heavy for their size.
A former Capitol Hill staffer cooks up a new career.
How much would you pay for a cupcake? At Baltimore Cupcake Company, it could run you as much as 12 bucks a treat, but owner Tracy Rice is having no problem finding takers: Her growing clientele is forking over as much as $2,500 an event for cupcakes sparkling with Swarovski crystals, monogrammed with chocolate letters, or topped with handmade whimsical parasols. (The basic model goes for $2.50.)
El Patrón brings Mexican to an elegant old Mt. Vernon rowhouse.
"We still get people coming in asking what happened to Tony Cheng's," sighs our server at the recently opened El Patrón (801 N. Charles Street, 410-244-8494), which does indeed occupy the digs of that former Szechuan favorite. But people should give El Patrón a chance, if only to enjoy a free basket full of the most addictive corn chips I think I have ever tasted. We couldn't decide what made them so good—they were a little lighter, a little sweeter than usual, and still hot from the fryer.
A new gelateria is a little bit crazy and a whole lot delicious.
Organic milk from grass-fed cows. Bronte pistachios flown in from the slopes of Italy's Mount Etna. Free-range chicken eggs used the day they're laid. It's safe to say Pitango Gelato is a wee bit obsessive about the ingredients in its frozen treats. At their Fells Point storefront, which opened earlier this summer (802 S. Broadway, 410-702-5828), each gelato is kept in its own lidded compartment to prevent flavors from mixing. And such flavors!
Safety is an admirable goal. It's what motivates us to inhabit cozy homes, to strap on our seatbelts, to step away from that grizzly bear. There's safety in numbers, of course. There's even a Safety Dance. For American wine producers, there is safety, too—in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, or Oregon Pinot Noir. (Heck, these days, Pinot Noir in and of itself is a vinous Fort Knox.)
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?