Diners get special treatment at chef's tables—for a price.
These days, with more diners yearning for proximity to the chef, the table closest to the heat and clatter is hands-down the best in the house. But a chef's table can range from an actual seating in the kitchen—allowing diners to spy on the meal in production—to a spot somewhat removed from the fray in a private dining room or wine cellar. Most offer a tasting menu of hand-selected specialties, frequently paired with wines, and personal interaction with the chef. Here are several we discovered.
Local author highlights state farmers and watermen.
Harford County resident Lucie Snodgrass is so passionate about supporting our state's farmers and watermen that she's written a book about them with recipes. Dishing up Maryland ($19.95, Storey Publishing), which has a March 24 release date, features essays on almost three dozen Marylanders who are behind our local food—like Kate and David Dallam of Broom's Bloom Dairy in Bel Air; Jack and Becky Gurley of Calvert's Gift Farm in Sparks; and Jimmy and Michele Hayden, who dredge for oysters in Dorchester County.
Perk up St. Patrick's Day with specialty coffee.
No one is really sure about the origins of Irish coffee. Some say a County Limerick bartender poured whiskey into coffee to warm up some American visitors in the '40s. Then, somehow, the drink migrated to a San Francisco bar with a travel writer in the early '50s. Regardless, the specialty brew is on just about everyone's menu these days, including many Baltimore taverns. We asked Mick O'Shea's Irish Pub (328 N. Charles St., 410-539-7504) to share its popular version ($5).
These days, radio personality Steve Rouse makes a pitch for fresh produce grown on his farm.
Back in the heyday of his top-rated WQSR radio show, Rouse and Co., Steve Rouse once rode his mower from Hunt Valley to the show's studios in Towson, cutting grass along the way, for one of his more memorable bits. "Allegedly, I drove my lawnmower from my house in Fallston to the station," says the 59-year-old Rouse, "but I fully admit now that I started in Hunt Valley, where the sidewalk began."
Find out how we rank our old—and new—favorites in 2010.
Yup, we did it again—ranked what we consider the area's 50 best restaurants. The surprise this year is how many newcomers made the list and how many of last year's contenders (like The Brass Elephant) closed due to the economic downturn.
We always start the reviewing process with everyone on an equal playing field—sort of like the start of baseball and football season. The past rankings are history. Then, our reviewers make their way around town, devouring pounds of beef, seafood, pasta, and desserts, even when waistlines scream for mercy.
Don't forget the wine on Valentine's Day. Here are our choices.
It's February, and those of you in relationships are going to be under pressure to come up with a romantic plan on Valentine's Day. Many will opt for fine dining, while others will choose a cozy meal at home. Either way, you'll end up at someone's house. Here are three delicious ways to toast your paramour.
What's going on at Taverna Corvino?
When we heard that executive chef Christopher Paternotte left Taverna Corvino (1117 S. Charles St., 410-727-1212) in Federal Hill, we wondered how it would affect the restaurant, which opened less than a year ago. As far as the food, the menu is similar to the one offered under Paternotte.
Baltimore's 25 Best Bars
Baltimore is known for the illustrious corner bar—the comfy dive down the block where the Natty Boh is always cold and everybody knows your name. But the city's nightlife scene has boomed in recent years, resulting in upscale lounges, energetic music venues, trendy wine bars, and down-home bistros. We decided to cover all that ground and give you the region's 25 best bars, from Hunt Valley to Annapolis and everywhere in between.
Getting out of bed in the morning just got easier with our 35 top breakfast and brunch picks.
NOTE: This is our 2009 Best Breakfast and Brunch Places feature. Our 2013 Best Breakfast and Brunch Places list is here.
A local sausage maker provides brats and sauerkraut to Oktoberfests.
Once again, Binkert’s Meat Products (8805 Philadelphia Rd., 410-687-5959, binkerts.com) is gearing up for a season of Oktoberfests. The company—founded in 1964 by German immigrant Egon Binkert, a master butcher who had an American dream to open his own place—expects to deliver bratwursts, sauerkraut, red cabbage, and mustard to more than 50 October celebrations throughout the area, says second-generation owner Sonya Weber.
The kudos don't lie. Maryland winemaking is finally on the map.
It's a crisp Sunday afternoon, and the view beyond the barn at Boordy Vineyards is bright with autumn colors. Rob Deford, the winery's owner, cranks the handle of a vintage crusher and white grapes emerge, their skins broken and stems removed. He jokes about what it would be like to make the winery's annual 90,000 gallons of wine with this antiquated equipment. But, of course, he doesn't have to—behind him loom almost three dozen stainless steel tanks, the largest with a capacity of 12,000 gallons.
Cocktails are for the mornings, too.
From mimosas to Bellinis, cocktails are to brunch what comics are to Sunday mornings at home—a tradition. But besides classic libations, many restaurants are putting their own twists on early-day drinks. Woodberry Kitchen, for instance, packs a lot of creativity into The Full Monty—its version of a Bloody Mary. Ingredients include candied bacon, a whole smoked shrimp, and a scallion garnish. To add a local kick, the glass is rimmed in Old Bay and served alongside a four-ounce shot of Natty Boh.
Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse defies the economy with a progressive agenda and a new free school.
On a late summer evening, a dozen students in their 20s and 30s take seats around an oversized picnic table and on rows of bleachers inside the Baltimore Museum of Art's geodesic dome. John Duda, one of the founders of Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse collective, prepares to lead tonight's class, "Urban Development as Counterinsurgency," but he can't start. The students keep arriving.
"The problem with starting everything 15 minutes late," jokes Kate Khatib, another Red Emma's collective founder, "is that people start showing up 15 minutes late for everything."
Small potato nuggets become a menu staple at local restaurants.
A lot of people attribute the recent popularity of tater tots on restaurant menus to Napoleon Dynamite, the 2004 cult favorite with a great classroom scene featuring the mini potato bites. But Alan Morstein, owner of Regi's American Bistro in Federal Hill, was way ahead of the movie. He introduced A.J.'s tater tots to diners eight years ago. "I'm the man who put tater tots on the map," he proclaims.
This Vietnamese sandwich adds its flavors to our local fare.
Sub, hoagie, cheesesteak, and grinder, meet the new sandwich in town: bánh mì. Its tender grilled meat, pickled daikon, and fresh cilantro remember the flavors of its native Vietnam. Its crispy baguette and cool mayonnaise capture the nation's French colonial past. Its simple, paper-wrapped presentation borrows from its origins as street fare. "It's very cheap, it's very quick, it's very good," says Trang Nguyen of Saigon Remembered (5857 York Rd., 410-435-1300). The restaurant's menu offers 13 variations, ranging from tofu ($5.50) to ham ($6.95).