January, 4th 2013

Chef lineup for Aquarium dinners

chef chris beckerChefs from Laurrapin Grille, The Oregon Grille, and Fleet Street Kitchen will lead cooking demos at the National Aquarium's Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood Dining Series, starting Feb. 5.

Chef Bruce Clarke of Laurrapin Grille in Havre de Grace kicks off the series in February. An Oregon Grille chef will be featured on March 19. And Chef Chris Becker, pictured, of Fleet Street Kitchen will return for a second time on May 21. He was part of the 2012 series.

Each evening is themed around a sustainable seafood choice that is available in the region. Guests enjoy a cocktail reception, the cooking demo, a three-course dinner, and an after-hours stroll through the Aquarium.

Tickets for each dinner are $79 for Aquarium members and $99 for non-members, or all three dinners can be purchased as a package with a discount of $10 per dinner. Tickets can be obtained online or by calling 410-576-3869.

The dinners start at 6:30 p.m. at the Aquarium in the Inner Harbor. Classic Catering is an event partner.

Photo courtesy of Fleet Street Kitchen's Facebook page. 

December, 31st 2012

Ban These 2012 Foodie Terms

canapesWe're guilty. We've used them. But we have to admit we'd like to see less of these food terms in 2013.

Check out Washington City Paper's "Ten Most Abused Foodie Terms of 2012."

They include:

Farm-to-table: "Where do you think your food came from before?"

Soft-open: "It's either open or it's not."

Hand-crafted: "As opposed to robot-crafted? Or foot-crafted?"

Ironically, the list doesn't include "foodie."

The blog post's comments are interesting, too.

Image courtesy of vichie81/FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

12:13 pm Comment Count Tags: foodie terms
December, 28th 2012

Bagby Group to open a cafe in Towson

bagby restaurant groupIn addition to Cunningham's—a New American, farm-to-table restaurant—the Bagby Restaurant Group will also open Cunningham Cafe and Bakery in the Towson City Center this summer, it announced today.

Cunningham's will offer dishes made with local and house-made ingredients like wood-grilled lobster, dry-aged steaks, flatbreads, and nightly oyster specials.

Cunningham Cafe and Bakery, conveniently located on the ground floor of the building, will feature micro-roasted coffee and menu items like farm eggs with house-made chorizo and Serrano-manchego paninis. Artisan breads will also be available in the bakery section.

Cunningham's is the Bagby Group's fourth restaurant and first in Baltimore County. The others—Bagby Pizza Company, Ten Ten, and Fleet Street Kitchen—are located near Harbor East.

The newest restaurant and cafe will be housed in the renovated Towson City Center—once known as the Investment Building—near the corner of York and Dulaney Valley roads. 

December, 21st 2012

Where to Eat at BWI Airport

pinkberryJust in time for holiday travel, eater.com has re-released its guide on where to eat at various airports, including Baltimore Washington International Airport.

It divides its list into where to find a quick or leisurely meal as well as where to find the eating establishment at the airport. The fro-yo shop Pinkberry, pictured, for instance, is in Concourse A-B.

Other options include Vino Volo wine bar, Obrycki's, DuClaw Brewing Company, The Greene Turtle, and more. 

Of course, the recommendations are handy any time of the year at BWI.

Photo courtesy of Pinkberry's website.


3:12 pm Comment Count Tags: BWI, restaurants
December, 20th 2012

Sticky Rice co-owner found dead

UPDATED: Joey Belcher, a Sticky Rice co-owner, was found unconscious yesterday afternoon in D.C. and declared dead, a Baltimore Business Journal blog reported this morning. He was 37.

Mourners already are responding to Belcher's death on Sticky Rice DC's Facebook page, including a post from one of Sticky Rice's owners, who wrote:

"To those of you suffering this incomprehensible loss with me, Joey Belcher was simply an awesome guy. He was kind, sympathetic, endlessly generous, weird and funny, and he loved everyone of you."

On Monday, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department responded to the scene in the 200 block of I Street NE, the BBJ blog said. The cause of death is undetermined, and an autopsy will be performed.

DCist.com reported that Belcher was found unresponsive in his apartment. The death is not being investigated as a homicide, it said.

Belcher owned Sticky Rice and Dangerously Delicious Pies on H Street NE in D.C., several food trucks, and was a partner at 1905, a D.C. bistro, according to a family press release.

"Joey is the last person in the world who would have us standing around sobbing," the Facebook post said. "So, carry on we shall."

A public wake will be held from 5-8 p.m. at Joseph Gawler's Sons in D.C. A Roman Catholic funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the same location. 

Sticky Rice also has a location in Fells Point. Joey was originally a partner there, a family spokeswoman said, but recently sold his shares to one of the other owners. 

Photo courtesy of Sticky Rice DC. 

10:27 am Comment Count Tags: obituary
December, 19th 2012

Langermann's End of the World Dinner

Langermann's Mayan dinnerChef/co-owner Neal Langermann thinks people should have "one last great meal," just in case the world does end on Friday as some believe the Mayan calendar dictates. The chef's Mayan-influenced menu on Thursday will present flavors and ingredients that "harken back to that time," he said.

"We thought maybe we should celebrate the night before," Neal said. "It's the last time you're going to eat."

The event will be held at Langermann's on Light in Federal Hill during regular restaurant hours from 5-10 p.m. The 75-seat space is more intimate than his more cavernous restaurant in Canton, he said.

The cost is $40 a person for a five-course meal that includes a glass of Prosecco on arrival and dessert wine at the end of the meal. Reservations: 410-534-3287.

The menu:

Carnitas Chimmi Changa Indian Candy Bites

Traditional Posole Soup with Beef Jerky

Huitlacoche-Wild Mushroom Tamales

Red Chili Dusted Pecan Salmon with Creamed Corn, Crispy Grits Cake

Or

Roast Tenderloin of Beef, Truffled Scented Mashed Potato, Swiss Chard, Tobacco Onions

Silky Mexican Chocolate Pie

And if the world is still spinning, Sean K. Preston will be performing his rockin' style of blues, punk, and country music from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. The music is free. 

Photo courtesy of Langermann's Facebook page.

December, 19th 2012

Cooking Classes at Waterfront Kitchen

Waterfront Kitchen cooking classWhether you're looking for a last-minute gift or self-improvement for yourself, the hands-on cooking classes at Waterfront Kitchen in Fells Point promise to be informative and fun. Tastings and wine are included, too!

The "Monday Series" classes, taught by chef Jerry Pellegrino, start on Jan. 7 in the restaurant kitchen with "Maximum Flavor Healthy Dishes for the New Year." Each class is $59 (not including gratuity) and runs from 6-9 p.m. Reservations: 443-681-5310.

Here's the rest of the lineup:

Jan. 21: "The Art of Making Pasta I."

Jan. 28: "The Art of Making Pasta II."

Feb. 4: "The Art of Making Sushi."

Feb. 11: "Cooking with Aphrodisiacs."

Feb. 18: "The Art of Making Bacon and Other Pork Products."

Feb. 25: "The Art of Making Chili."

March 4: "A Tribute to Julia Child," featuring techniques and dishes made famous by the legendary cook.

March 11: "Molecular Gastronomy."

March 18: "The Art of Making Sweet & Savory Soufflés."

March 25: "The Art of Cutting, Cleaning, and Cooking Fish."

Photo of a previous pasta class, courtesy of Waterfront Kitchen's Facebook page. 

December, 18th 2012

A Peek at Restaurant Week Menus

baltimore restaurant weekStep away from the holidays for a minute and plan for Baltimore Restaurant Week from Jan. 25-Feb. 3. The restaurants and menus are now posted online.

As diners know, many restaurants book quickly. The winter eating extravaganza features three-course, prix-fixe dinner menus for $30.13 and $20.13. And several places offer a two-course lunch menu for $15.13.

There are some new faces on the list this year, including Maggie's Farm, The Food Market, Gordon Biersch, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. But you'll also find tried-and-true stalwarts like The Prime Rib, Cinghiale, and The Oregon Grille.

It's a great time to eat out and shake the wintertime blues. 

December, 13th 2012

Restaurants celebrating New Year's Eve

NYE fireworksUPDATED: If you’d like to ring out 2012 in style, many area restaurants are throwing a party, complete with multi-course meals, wine pairings, and a toast at midnight. Early dinner options are available, too. They all suggest making reservations ahead of time. Here’s what you’ll find around town.

B&O American Brasserie

The restaurant is hosting an event it’s calling “The Last Stop,” with an a la carte menu, cocktail and beer pairings, a DJ at 9 p.m., and a champagne toast at midnight.

Where: 2 N. Charles St., 443-692-6172.

Time: Starting at 5 p.m.

Cost: No set price.

The Black Olive restaurants

A five-course meal is offered at the cozy Black Olive or at The Olive Room on the rooftop of the Inn at The Black Olive, with its front-row seat to the fireworks. A more casual evening will be available at the Inn’s Agora Market with light fare and sparkling wine at midnight.

Where: The Black Olive, 814 S. Bond St., 410-276-7141; The Olive Room (rooftop) and Agora Market (first floor), 803 S. Caroline St., 443-681-6316.

Time: 6-7:30 p.m.; 8-10 p.m.; at Agora Market, 10 p.m.

Cost: $80 (tax and tip not included); $25, Agora Market.

Charleston

At its gala celebration, guests will enjoy a multi-course, prix-fixe menu, “endless” champagne, premium open bar, party favors, and a view of the fireworks at midnight. A prix-fixe menu is available at the early-dinner seatings.

Where: 1000 Lancaster St., 410-332-7373.

Time: Gala seating, 8:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 10 p.m.; early dinner, 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m.

Cost: Gala, $299 a person inclusive; early dinner, $139 a person or $199 with paired wines.

Cinghiale

Celebrate Felice Anno Nuovo with a four-course, modern Italian menu, party hats, favors, and a Prosecco toast.

Where: 822 Lancaster St., 410-547-8282.

Time: Reservations begin at 5:30 p.m.

Cost: $89 a person or $129 with paired wines.

Crème Restaurant and Lounge

The restaurant offers dinner and a show with live music at two seatings and a "ball-drop" celebration, including a breakfast buffet, to ring in the New Year.

Where: 518 N. Charles St., 443-869-3381.

Time: Dinner and show, 5-7 p.m. and 8-10 p.m.; "ball-drop" party, 11 p.m.-2 a.m.

Cost: Dinner and show, $60 a person (surf-and-turf option at market price); party, $75. 

Fleet Street Kitchen

The newest Bagby Restaurant Group restaurant will serve a four-course menu with optional wine pairings and a complimentary toast at midnight. Two seatings are available.

Where: 1012 Fleet St., 410-244-5830.

Time: Early seating, 5-7 p.m.; second seating, 8-10 p.m.

Cost: $99; additional $49 for wine pairings.

Kooper’s North

This Baltimore County offshoot of Kooper’s in Fells Point is serving a three-course menu with optional wine in addition to the restaurant’s full à la carte menu.

Where: 12240 Tullamore Rd., Roundwood Shopping Center, Lutherville, 410-853-7324.

Time: Starting at 4 p.m.

Cost: $34.99 a person (tax and gratuity excluded).

Langermann’s

Chef/co-owner Neal Langermann created a four-course dinner that pays homage to Julia Child, featuring several of her recipes. A midnight champagne toast is included.

Where: 2400 Boston St., Can Company, 410-534-3287; valet parking.

Time: Open reservations, 4 p.m.-midnight.

Cost: $50 a person; $75 with wine pairings.

Lebanese Taverna

Ring in 2013 with Mezze Madness, an unlimited service of more than 20 small plates, dessert, champagne toast, belly-dancing shows, party favors, and more. The restaurant will also serve an a la carte menu for early diners.

Where: 719 S. President St., 410-244-5533.

Time: Starting at 9 p.m.; early seating, 5-7:30 p.m.

Cost: Mezza Madness, $75 a person plus tax and service charge.

Maryland Live Casino

The casino celebrates New Year’s Eve around the world with themed entertainment and prize drawings, culminating in party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Its restaurants The Prime Rib and Live! Buffet will offer special dinners; Rams Head Center Stage will host an open-bar party with music.

Where: Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover.

Time: Casino celebration starts at 4 p.m.

Cost: The Prime Rib, prix-fixe menu, $125 and up; Live! Buffet, all-you-can-eat steak and seafood, $34.99; Rams Head Center Stage, $75 a person, $60 before Dec. 20.

Mr. Rain’s Fun House

The restaurant at the American Visionary Art Museum will have two seatings, with live jazz offered after 9 p.m. The late seating includes a midnight toast and a view of the harbor fireworks.

Where: 800 Key Hwy., 443-524-7379.

Time: Early seating, 6-8 p.m.; late seating, 9-10:30 p.m.

Cost: Early seating, three courses, $40; additional $25 with wine pairings; late seating, five courses, $65; additional $40 with wine pairings.

PABU

The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore restaurant says goodbye to 2012 with an “all-you-can-taste” selection of Japanese New Year’s foods from various regions of the country. The party also includes a DJ, a welcome cocktail, and a toast of bubbly at midnight.

Where: 725 Aliceanna St.; reservations, 410-223-1464.

Time: Dinner, from 7-11 p.m.

Cost: $65 a person, not including tax and gratuity.

Pazo

Get into a party mood with a DJ, modern salsa music, a Cava toast at midnight, and party favors. The restaurant’s traditional Spanish menu will be available throughout the evening at a cost additional to the ticket price. Early dinner is also available. Bar and lounge guests will enjoy party favors and a Cava toast at midnight.

Where: 1425 Aliceanna St., 410-534-7296.

Time: Party, 9 p.m.-midnight; bar and lounge, 5 p.m.-close; early dinner, 5-8 p.m.

Cost: Party, $45 a person; bar and lounge walk-ins, $25 a person; no cover for early dinner.

Petit Louis Bistro

The Roland Park restaurant rolls out a multi-course menu with wine pairings, if desired, and hats and favors.

Where: 4800 Roland Ave., 410-366-9393.

Time: Opens at 4 p.m.; last reservation at 9 p.m.

Cost: $72 a person; $109 with accompanying wines.

RA Sushi

The restaurant offers New Year’s themed food and drink specials.

Where: 1390 Lancaster St., 410-522-3200.

Time: 7 p.m. to close

Cost: No cover charge; prices vary.

Rusty Scupper

The Scupper’s annual party includes a four-course, Chesapeake-inspired meal, live music, dancing, a complimentary champagne toast at midnight, and party favors.

Where: 402 Key Hwy., 410-727-3678.

Time: 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

Cost: Before Dec. 25, $109.99 per person for general seating, $119.99 for premiere window seating; after Dec. 25, $119.99 for all reservations (must be prepaid when made; price does not include tax and gratuity).

Ryleigh’s Oyster

In addition to a three-course, prix-fix menu, the meal includes a trio of sparkling splits at the Federal Hill restaurant.

Where: 36 E. Cross St., 410-539-2093.

Time: 5-10 p.m. (last seating at 9 p.m.).

Cost: $39 a person.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

The Inner Harbor restaurant will be featuring a four-course, prix-fixe menu.

Where: 1 E. Pratt St., 410-962-5503.

Time: Early seating, 3-5 p.m.; second seating: 5:15 p.m.

Cost: Early, $69; second, $79, (alcohol, tax, and gratuity not included).

TEN TEN        

The restaurant is offering a four-course menu with optional wine pairings and a complimentary toast at midnight. Two seatings are available.

Where: 1010 Fleet St., 410-244-6867.

Time: Early seating, 5-7 p.m.; second seating, 8-10 p.m.

Cost: $69; additional $35 for wine pairings.

Verde

The Canton restaurant celebrates with a Neopolitan-themed dinner that includes a bottle of wine or Prosecco per couple.

Where: 641 S. Montford Ave., 410-522-1000; valet parking.

Time: Reservations starting at 5 p.m.

Cost: $49.95 a person (tax and tip not included); children under 12, free before 9 p.m.

Vino Rosina

Chef Jesse Sandlin is back in the kitchen and will be preparing a four-course, prix-fixe menu. The bar will feature all-you-can-drink sparkling, white, and red selections.

Where: 507 S. Exeter St., 410-528-8600.

Time: Dining room, 5 p.m., 7 p.m., 9 p.m.

Cost: Menu, $55; $85 with wine pairings; all-you-can-drink selections at the bar, $65; $15 cover charge after 9 p.m. includes a champagne toast at midnight.

Waterfront Kitchen

Get a front-row seat to the harbor fireworks at the restaurant’s late-dinner seating. It includes a four-course menu, with or without wine pairings, a complimentary glass of champagne on arrival, and a champagne toast at midnight. Or start the evening early with all of the above except the midnight bubbly.

Where: 1417 Thames St., reservations, 443-681-5310.

Time: First seating, 6:30 p.m.; late seating, 9:30 p.m.

Cost: First seating, $115; $165 with wine pairings; late seating, $150; $200 with wine.

Wine Market Bistro

The Locust Point restaurant promises a delicious night with a four-course meal and more.

Where: 921 E. Fort Ave., 410-244-6166.

Time: 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 10 p.m.

Cost: $59 a person; wine pairings available for an additional $25.

Wit & Wisdom

Stop by the restaurant for an early three-course dinner before heading out for a night on the town or arrive later for a five-course menu, live jazz entertainment, and a champagne toast at midnight. Don’t forget to enjoy the panoramic views of the harbor.

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, 200 International Dr.

Time: First seating, 5-6:30 p.m.; second seating, 8-9 p.m.

Cost: First seating, $80 a person; second seating, $150 a person.

Photo of New Year’s Eve fireworks at the harbor/credit: Leslie Furlong.

 

 

 

 

December, 6th 2012

Reality show films Alchemy owners

alchemy chefThe husband-wife owners of Alchemy in Hampden have quite a story to tell. And the film crews from RLTV cable network want to share it in an episode of "What's Next?"

Alchemy's executive chef Michael Matassa and chef/sommelier Debi Bell-Matassa opened their restaurant two years ago on The Avenue. It was a success story before they even greeted guests. They were going to be cooking again.

The couple had operated the popular Fusion Grille in Fallston until 2005 when they had to close the restaurant because Debi's breast cancer came back "with a vengeance the second time," she told me in 2010.

alchemy chefWith two children and an intense chemo regiment, running a restaurant had become too difficult. Now, Michael and Debi are back to juggling all the responsibilities that go into operating a restaurant and working side by side.

The reality-based documentary "What's Next?" focuses on the lives of baby boomers in various situations. RLTV directs its programming to adults 50 years and older.

The episode on the Hampden restaurateurs is tentatively scheduled to air in April 2013.

Photos of Michael and Debi courtesy of Alchemy's website

5:20 pm Comment Count Tags: chefs, restaurants, TV
December, 5th 2012

Artifact Coffee's first dinner menu

artifact coffeeTonight's the night. Artifact Coffee, the offshoot of Woodberry Kitchen, near Hampden starts its dinner service this evening. The Night Kitchen menu is available beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday for tables of two and four on a first-come basis.

A three-course menu will change weekly, as well as the price, and will be served family-style. It's BYOB.

This week's menu features: young romaine, buttermilk dressing, and radish to start, followed by roasted Rettland chicken, ramp butter noodles, roasted turnips and their greens, and bay-leaf carrots, and then apple dumpling with fresh-cream ice cream for dessert.

The cost is $29.50 a person, not including tax and gratuity.

While you're at Artifact, you can also purchase locally made goods at the restaurant's Market Wall. The offerings include house-made items like Woodberry Kitchen jams, jellies, and pickles, and goods like wallets and leather-bound books from Baltimore's Almanac Industries.

House-made bacon and sauerkraut by Woodberry's butcher will be sold when available. Chef/owner Spike Gjerde's signature hot sauce, Snake Oil, is also for sale.

Eat and shop. Sounds good to me.

Photo courtesy of Artifact Coffee's Facebook page. 

December, 4th 2012

Black Olive celebrates Cretan cuisine

olive roomThe Olive Room at The Inn at The Black Olive is hosting a dinner, wine tasting, discussion, and book signing focused on the cuisine of Crete. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, at the hotel's fifth-floor restaurant near Harbor East.

Dinner will be prepared by Pauline Spiliadis, The Black Olive's executive chef. Wines from the island of Crete will be featured.

The evening also includes a discussion of the "life-extending powers" of Cretan cuisine by representatives from The Institute for Integrative Health and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

Author Nikki Rose will be signing copies of her book "Crete: The Roots of a Mediterranean Diet."

The cost is $75 a person. For reservations, contact stelios@theblackolive.com.

Photo courtesy of The Olive Room's website. 

December, 3rd 2012

Jesse Sandlin back at Vino Rosina

vino rosina signYes, you can go home again. Former Top Chef contestant Jesse Sandlin, who opened Vino Rosina's kitchen in Harbor East in spring 2010, is back at the restaurant as its top chef again.

I stumbled on this information as I walking past the restaurant today. A chalkboard sign, pictured, announced, "Our Top Chef is Back!"

"We're going to have fun," Jesse said on the phone this afternoon. "We're doing a pretty big overhaul of the menu."

She's waiting for a new sous chef to come on board before she starts making any big changes. She said the restaurant would return to its wine-bar roots with small plates and some larger options.

Vino Rosina has been through a couple of chef changes. When Jesse left the restaurant in early 2011, Sajin Renae (now at Fork and Wrench) took over; then Devlyn Ray, who recently left.

Jesse said owner Jim Lancaster called her and asked if she was interested in returning. Since leaving Vino Rosina, she has worked at Gunpowder Bison & Trading Co. and Pazo.

Jesse, who went to Glen Burnie High School, was on Bravo's Top Chef in 2009 with Frederick natives Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, who came in first and second, respectively. At the time, she was working at the now defunct Abacrombie Fine Foods.

Jesse likes the challenge of returning to Vino Rosina. "There's a ton of competition in the area," she said. "We're going to be a wine bar with really good food."

Photo by me 

December, 3rd 2012

Fells Point festival eggnog winners

eggnogJudging an eggnog contest isn't for the queasy or lactose intolerant, especially when you have to sample the potent holiday drink at 16 locations.

But that's just what I did on Saturday afternoon as part of the Fells Point Olde Tyme Christmas festival, along with Baltimore Sun restaurant critic Richard Gorelick, chef/owner Nancy Longo of Pierpoint Restaurant, festival organizer Willy Dely, and a few friends.

We met at noon to begin our task, walking from place to place. Besides the judges' winners, there was also a people's choice winner.

For several hours, we sipped and took notes. There wasn't a bad drink in the batch, but we finally narrowed our judges' picks to a top five. And they were:

1. Alexander's Tavern. We loved the mix of booze, which included RumChata and Jameson's Irish Whiskey. What really set this apart in our child hearts was the cinnamon-toast-crunch cereal sprinkled on top.

2. Tavern at the Admiral Fell Inn, pictured. Rum, bourbon, brandy—need I say more. We also liked the gingerbread-man cookie and candy-cane garnish, too.

cat's eye pub3. Cat's Eye Pub. Terri the bartender, pictured, served up a family recipe that resonated with bourbon, rum, and freshly grated nutmeg.

4. The Point in Fells. The serving station made it easy to have the delicious drink that had a tropical flair with passion fruit and pineapple.

5. Party Dress. Yes, not just bars participated. The dress shop had an elegant libation with white rum served in a glass punch bowl. There was also a tray of yummy treats. We were impressed with the freshly grated chocolate on top.

And the people's choice: the Tavern at the Admiral Fell Inn.

Willy tells me there may be another cocktail contest during Fells Point's Privateer Day in April.

I may have recovered by then.

Photos by me 

November, 29th 2012

Daniel Craig/James Bond in Baltimore

Actor Daniel Craig shook up more than a martini when he visited Baltimore on Tuesday. Twitter was quickly aflutter with sightings of the star of the recent James Bond movie "Skyfall."

Even Cindy Wolf, chef/owner at Charleston in Harbor East, couldn't resist tweeting: "I love that I can say this—Daniel Craig ate at my restaurant Charleston last night! Woo hooo! He is James Bond."

Craig also dropped by Stone Mill Bakery in Green Spring Station earlier in the day for a roasted turkey and avocado powerhouse sandwich, confirmed Cris Janoff, Stone Mill's genial manager.

"He was here. It happened quick," he said. "People are very excited that the guy has been here. They're star-struck."

No one is sure why Craig was in town, though Cris heard he was visiting someone at Hopkins.

I also couldn't confirm a tweet that claimed the actor made a visit to New York Fried Chicken on North Avenue. That would have been very Anthony Bourdain of him to go there.

It wasn't Craig's first visit to Baltimore. He was here several years ago filming a movie with Nicole Kidman. He visited the restaurant Charleston at the time, too. Kidman did not, Cindy Wolf said.

The chef is still excited today about the actor's visit. "He's quite handsome. He's elegant," she said. "He looked like he was having a good time."

He sat at table 53 in the wine-library dining room with a group of people. While Cindy wouldn't share what he ate, she said that she "sent a gift out to the table." In fact, she delivered the dish: porcini risotto with fresh chanterelles and shaved white truffle.

"He smiled and said, 'Thank you,'" she said.

Her response was a professional acknowledgement, though, she said, "I wanted to give him a hug, a kiss on the cheek."

Wouldn't we all?

Cindy said that Craig is among her top three celebrity visitors to Charleston. The others are Carol Burnett, whom Cindy described as "fantastic," and Robert Redford, who drew a face on the tablecloth while dining there.

That sketch is now framed and hanging in Cindy's house.

When I asked Cindy how she knew Craig was in the restaurant, she said, "When he walked in the door, we were quite aware it was him."

Of course, his face was fresh in the chef's mind. She had just seen "Skyfall" the night before his visit. 

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