November, 26th 2012

A Peek at the New Prime Rib

As The Prime Rib at Maryland Live! Casino readies for a December opening, I had a chance to tour the new restaurant at Arundel Mills recently. It is a beautifully appointed space.

The bar area is huge with an L-shaped bar; the dining rooms are bright and open; and an outdoor courtyard with a retractable roof and an expansive gas fireplace is a destination unto itself.

The restaurant has many of the traditional touches of its counterparts in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and D.C.—black paneling, leopard carpet, leather seating, and even the Lucite piano. But there are contemporary touches that suit its casino location.

Executive chef Rudy Volpe, pictured in the Prime Rib's private dining room, oversees the steakhouse as well as Maryland Live's other eateries: Live! Buffet, Noodles, and Phillips Seafood. The other two restaurants at the casino—Bobby's Burger Palace and The Cheesecake Factory—are leased by the tenants.

The new Prime Rib's culinary management team is also in place now. And it's quite a lineup.

The head chef is Michael Meisel, who was chef de cuisine at Red Sage Restaurant at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino in Santa Fe, NM; the sous chef is Doff Edwards, who worked at The Grille and Jackson 20 restaurants in Alexandria, VA; and the dining-room manager is Jean-Jacques Retourne, formerly of Michel Richard Citronelle in D.C.

A menu isn't available yet, but from the looks of a photo shoot taking place during my visit, the signature prime rib looks as good as ever.

Photo by me 

November, 16th 2012

Chefs Nick Malgieri, Tyler Florence to visit

Nick MalgieriCookbook author/chef Nick Malgieri will be doing a cooking demo on Nov. 30 at an event sponsored by the Baltimore chapter of The American Institute of Wine and Food. Then, on Dec. 8, Food Network chef Tyler Florence will be signing cookbooks at Wegmans Hunt Valley.

Both chefs have new cookbooks being released.

Guests who attend the Nick Malgieri event from 6-9 p.m. will receive a copy of his book, Nick Malgieri's Bread: Over 60 Breads, Rolls and Cakes Plus Delicious Recipes Using Them.

The event, which includes a meet and greet with Malgieri, also includes a buffet featuring dishes from the cookbook, prepared by caterer Jerry Edwards of Chef's Expressions and chef Douglas Wetzel of Gertrude's Restaurant.

The cost is $49 for AIWF members; $65 for nonmembers. Space is limited to 30 guests. For tickets, go here. The event will be held in Lutherville. For information, call 410-244-0044.

Tyler FlorenceUnless Tyler Florence snuck into town unnoticed, he last visited Baltimore in August 2010 when he went to an O's game at Camden Yards while promoting healthy eating with grapes.

Now, he's pushing his newest cookbook, "Tyler Florence Fresh." He'll be signing books at Wegmans Hunt Valley from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Tickets are required, along with a Wegmans proof of purchase for each book to be signed. The tickets are free and are available at the Hunt Valley store's service desk. The book will be available on Dec. 2, its national release.

I had a chance to meet Tyler Florence last time. He was a really nice guy. He told me he went to Chaps for pit-beef sandwiches that day but didn't have time to have crabs.

Maybe he will this time.

Photo of Nick Malgieri, courtesy of a press release; 2010 photo of Tyler Florence by me 

November, 15th 2012

New at Prigel Family Creamery

prigel cowsThe milk used to make the ice cream at Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm doesn't have far to travel. In fact, the dairy cows, pictured, producing the milk are visible in the nearby pastures, grazing on grass and hay.

The doe-eyed animals are used to people's attention and stop their munching long enough to check out nosy visitors like me on this chilly day. The Jersey cows (there are some Holsteins) are part of Bellevale Farm, owned by Bobby Prigel, the fourth generation to farm the Baltimore County property, now certified organic.

The two-year-old creamery was built to help support the farm, he says. In addition to ice cream, it also sells various cuts of meats from the farm's Berkshire/Yorkshire pigs, pictured; soaps made from the cows' milk; and beautiful wood bowls crafted by Bobby's father.

Another product will be introduced soon—yogurt, also made from the farm's fresh milk. Health Department approval of the product is expected any day. I had an opportunity to sample the maple and honey yogurts. They were rich, creamy, and delicious.

Eventually, Bobby, who runs the farm with family members, hopes to make butter and cheese, too.

prigel pigsChef/owner Winston Blick of Clementine in Hamilton was at the Creamery today to pick up Prigel milk for his restaurant and wooden cheese boards specially made by Bobby Sr. for his charcuterie.

He is a proponent of humanely raised animals. "We have a seven-year-old," he says, referring to his son Zeke with wife/restaurant co-owner Kristin Dadant. "We're interested in where our food comes from."

He sources as many local products as he can at his two restaurants (the other Clementine is at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown) and the Green Onion Market in Hamilton.

"They're happy cows," he says, as the curious animals approach him in the field. "The milk tastes better."

Photos by me 

November, 13th 2012

Happy Anniversary to Them!

RA SushiIt's time to party with Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore restaurants, RA Sushi, Mr. Rain’s Fun House, and James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant this week as they celebrate varied anniversaries.

Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore celebrates its first birthday with specials at Wit & Wisdom, LAMILL Coffee, and PABU. At Wit & Wisdom and PABU, a multi-course menu will be offered for $39 through Nov. 16. On Nov. 14, complimentary cupcakes will be served at lunch and a Champagne toast will be served at dinner in the Wit & Wisdom dining room only. PABU will host a festival on Nov. 14, featuring food stations, sake specials, a Japanese beer garden, and live entertainment. The unlimited food tasting is $21.14. Diners at PABU and Wit & Wisdom will also receive a complimentary drink card for future use this week. LAMILL COFFEE also marks the birthday with $1 coffees, beignets, and cupcakes on Nov. 14.

RA Sushi in Baltimore celebrates the 15th anniversary of the chain’s first restaurant in Arizona by offering a 15 percent discount to diners on Nov. 15. It will also donate 15 percent of its profits that day to the Maryland Food Bank. In the evening, the restaurant will host a “Radical ’90s Themed Party” with food and drink specials from 7 p.m. to close.

Mr. Rain’s Fun House at AVAM celebrates its third birthday on Nov. 15 with a special three-course menu and sparkling wine.

James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary on Nov. 15 with live music by O’Malley’s March from 8 p.m.-close.

Photo of a worker preparing for RA Sushi’s party, courtesy of RA Sushi’s Facebook page.

November, 11th 2012

Charm City Cakes joins with Mission BBQ

charm city cakes iwo jimaUPDATED PHOTO. Veterans Day will be a sweet affair at Mission BBQ. This Charm City Cakes creation, pictured, will be served today to veterans at Mission BBQ during a holiday commemoration at the Glen Burnie restaurant.

On Sunday, bakers and artists at Charm City Cakes were busy re-creating the Iwo Jima cake. The 2½ foot reproduction will serve at least 400 people, said Geof Manthorne, pictured, executive chef at the Remington bakery that was featured on Food Network’s Ace of Cakes.

The gang at Charm City Cakes started working on the cake on Friday and put the finishing touches on Monday before delivering the giant confection to Mission BBQ.

Mary Alice Yeskey, director of marketing at Charm City Cakes and owner Duff Goldman’s right-hand woman, was at the bakery, too, watching the proceedings.

charm city cakes iwo jima“It’s very important for us to thank them for their service,” she said, as her colleague Geof wrapped the cake in fondant.

The base of the structure features three types of cake: chocolate espresso, chocolate peanut-butter cup, and brownie. It will be topped by the iconic figures, pictured in the process of being crafted, of U.S. Marines raising the U.S. flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Steve Newton, who owns Mission BBQ with partner Bill Kraus and helped choose the cake’s flavors, explained the restaurant’s mission to honor those who serve our country. “Veterans Day is very important to us,” he said. “Who is more deserving than the veterans who fought for our freedoms?”

The public is invited to Mission BBQ on Monday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. to celebrate the holiday. The festivities will kick into gear at noon with a live singing of the National Anthem.

Complimentary sandwiches and cake will be available to veterans.

Mission BBQ will open its second location on Friday, Nov. 16, in the Nottingham area of Perry Hall. To celebrate the expansion, the restaurant will donate all proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project.

charm city cakes iwo jimaThe restaurant is also committed to honoring local fireman, police officers, rescue units, as well as the military with fund-raisers and special events during the year.

And while its goals are admirable, Mission BBQ doesn’t shortchange its customers in the food department. It offers a menu of delicious All-American barbecue, featuring brisket, pulled pork, sliced turkey, ribs, and more, and signature sauces such as Memphis Belle, St. Louis Red, Texas Twang, and even Maryland Bay-B-Que. Sides like mac-n-cheese and green beans and bacon are made from scratch.

Go Monday and eat and honor our veterans. But, really, go to Mission BBQ any day.

Photos of the cake preparation by me; photo of the complete cake by planit

November, 8th 2012

What's next at The Oregon Grille?

oregon grilleAs The Oregon Grille in Hunt Valley celebrates its 15th anniversary, I stopped by the restaurant today to try some of the new dishes that will soon be introduced to its menu. I also wanted to find out what's going on with owner Ted Bauer's newest project, the historic Valley Inn.

Make no mistake: The Oregon Grille hasn't lost its commitment to its main dish—dry aged prime beef. It's just making some additions. "We're continuing the mainstays," Ted assured me.

What's really great is that the executive chef, Matthew Siegmund, has been in the kitchen since the restaurant opened in 1997. He started as a line cook, working under former chefs Mark Henry and Stefan Sabo, before taking over the top spot and continuing his mentors' vision.

Only now, Matt contributes his own spin, creating new dishes like crispy leg of duck, surf & turf carpaccio, grilled farm-raised salmon with lobster risotto and crispy shrimp, and an exquisite Swiss chocolate torte, pictured.

The torte is an amazing concoction of Swiss chocolate sponge cake and chocolate mousse, draped with a gianduja glaze, a lush hazelnut chocolate. The pretty plate was drizzled with raspberry coulis, bittersweet chocolate, and Grand Marnier-orange-juice sauce. #theregoesthediet

Ted, who started the Mt. Washingon Tavern in 1979 before running The Oregon Grille, is also on the cusp of adding another restaurant to his resume—The Valley Inn in Brooklandville (officially Lutherville). A liquor license was approved almost two years ago, but the storied property has stood quiet since then.

Ted didn't disclose any new details today, except to say there have been bumps along the way. But he told me there will be some information coming soon.

The Valley Inn at 10501 Falls Rd. was owned by Bud Hatfield and other family members for more than 90 years and was a popular gathering place for the horse-country crowd. The food was old-fashioned, but there probably wasn't a better mint julep in town.

In the meantime, The Oregon Grille is one of the many local restaurants preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year. (I'll be compiling a list of other restaurants next week.)

For $49 a person, diners can enjoy a traditional holiday meal from 1-8 p.m. on Nov. 22, featuring roasted turkey, sausage dressing, whipped potatoes, yams, pecan pie, and more. The à la carte dinner menu will also be offered.

Contact the restaurant to make reservations.

Photo by me. 


November, 7th 2012

Food trucks to help storm victims

food truck gatheringLocal food trucks will join forces this Saturday, Nov. 10, from 1-5 p.m. in Towson for a special Hurricane Relief Gathering. It's a great time to help those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy and to also enjoy delicious food, drinks, and music.

The 12 trucks, scheduled to line up on Washington Avenue by the Courthouse, include Kooper's Chowhound Burger Wagon, Woody's Taco Island, Cruisin' Cafe, The Jolly Pig, Noodlerolla Food Truck, GrrChe: Gourmet Grilled Cheese Truck, icedgemsbaking, and Kommie Pig.

People are asked to bring first-aid supplies, clothing, diapers, wipes, general toiletries, charcoal, and grills to donate to those in need.

Hope to see you on Saturday. 

November, 5th 2012

Miss Shirley's to open in D.C. area

Miss Shirley'sMiss Shirley's Cafe is currently looking for a new location in D.C., according to a press release. The popular restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch, already has locations in Roland Park, the Inner Harbor, and Annapolis plus its roving food truck.

Expansion in that area makes sense, said owner Eddie Dopkin in the announcement, since a number of Washington visitors come to the local restaurants. "We'd like to be a part of the D.C. dining scene because we feel that our restaurant, food, and atmosphere is a good fit for the community," he said.

Miss Shirley's opened in 2006 in the Roland Park space that is now S'ghetti Eddie's, also owned by Eddie, and quickly expanded into a larger space across the street. The growing restaurant group is known for its Southern-influenced menu.

I have no confirmation, but I've heard the next Miss Shirley's may be in Bethesda. I'll keep you posted. 

Photo of the Roland Park location courtesy of Miss Shirley's website

November, 2nd 2012

Woodberry Kitchen's Oyster Festival

oyster festivalCelebrate the season of oysters in the courtyard at Union Mill (Union Avenue at Buena Vista) on Monday, Nov. 5, from 4:30-8:30 p.m., presented by Woodberry Kitchen.

The yummy spread includes Chesapeake Bay iced oysters on the half shell, grilled oysters on the half shell, oyster stew, a fish fry, and Flying Dog Brewery's Oyster Stout. There will be live music, too.

Tickets are $30 a person (food and beer included). For more information, call Woodberry Kitchen at 410-464-8000. 

1:31 pm Comment Count Tags: events, oysters
November, 2nd 2012

Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week returns

baltimore restaurant weekThe Halloween pumpkin is still grinning and the Thanksgiving turkey hasn't been carved, but it's never too soon to savor the dates for Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week. This year's eating bacchanal will be held Friday, Jan. 25-Sunday, Feb. 3.

Participating restaurants will offer a three-course dinner for $30.13 a person or $20.13 a person. Some restaurants will also offer two-course lunch menus for $15.13. Liquor, tax, and gratuity are not included in those prices.

Information about the event, presented by Visit Baltimore and Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, will be updated on the Restaurant Week website.

Winter Restaurant Week comes just in time to stave off cold-weather doldrums and to give diners an opportunity to visit topnotch restaurants at discounted prices. 

November, 1st 2012

The Chameleon is now Maggie's Farm

maggie's farmThe popular Lauraville restaurant The Chameleon is now called Maggie's Farm and has a new chef/co-owner, Andrew Weinzirl. I caught up with Andrew this afternoon to find out more about the change.

He told me that Chameleon's owner Jeff Smith is still involved financially in the new restaurant. But after 10 years of running Chameleon, Jeff turned over the reins to Andrew to focus on a new business called Maryland Farm-To-Table Produce.

Essentially, it's an online food hub, where chefs can go and order produce from area farms. The farmers then deliver the goods to Jeff, who gets it to the restaurants.

Jeff has always had a farm-to-table philosophy. And so does Andrew, who worked with Jeff a couple of years ago before heading to The Wine Market in Locust Point.

Another partner in Maggie's Farm is Matthew Weaver, who, as general manager, handles the front-of-the house operations. "Matt and I are running the ship here," Andrew said. "Our vision is to make it less stuffy."

The tablecloths have been removed, and the menu will have more affordable options, "so people can leave and not break the bank," Andrew said.

He and Matt took over in May and have slowly been making changes. A website should be up and running soon.

A grand opening is being planned in a couple of weeks, Andrew said. The restaurant will be open for dinner six days a week and for brunch on Sundays. It's still closed on Mondays, but that will change soon when the kitchen will offer a four-course, prix-fixe menu that day.

I was also glad to hear that Sarah Acconcia, formerly of 13.5% Wine Bar and Kettle Hill, will be the sous chef at Maggie's Farm.

With a lineup like Andrew, Matt, and Sarah, the restaurant has all the makings of success.

Photo by me 

October, 31st 2012

Mission BBQ expands to Perry Hall

mission bbqMission BBQ will open its second location on Friday, Nov. 16, in the Nottingham area of Perry Hall. To celebrate the expansion, this socially conscious restaurant will donate all proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project.

A grand-opening ceremony will be held on Monday, Nov. 19, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a live performance of "The Star Spangled Banner."

The singing of the National Anthem is a daily routine at Mission BBQ's original restaurant in Glen Burnie, pictured. At noon each day, employees and diners pause, with hands over hearts, to listen to a taped version of the song. It's quite a moving experience.

That practice will continue at the new store in The Festival at Perry Hall, 4132 E. Joppa Rd. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

But let's not forget about the food. Mission BBQ offers a menu of delicious All-American barbecue, featuring brisket, pulled pork, sliced turkey, ribs, and more, and signature sauces such as Memphis Belle, St. Louis Red, Texas Twang, and even Maryland Bay-B-Que. Sides like mac-n-cheese and green beans and bacon are made from scratch.

Owners Steve Newton and Bill Kraus traveled around the country, sampling a variety of barbecue, to develop their menu. They're likable guys, and you're likely to see them when you visit the restaurant.

The restaurant is also committed to honoring local fireman, police officers, rescue units, and the military with fund-raisers and special events during the year.

Mission BBQ is going to be a great addition to the Baltimore County restaurant scene. 

Photo courtesy of Mission BBQ's website

October, 31st 2012

Ina Garten book signing rescheduled

ina gartenPopular cookbook author/TV personality Ina Garten will now be signing copies of her new book Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust at noon on Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Williams-Sonoma store at the Village of Cross Keys.

The event was rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy. Ina Garten was originally scheduled to be at the store on Nov. 1.

The book signing will be a great time to meet her in person and get a signed copy. She will only be signing copies of cookbooks that are purchased at Williams-Sonoma, according to a company announcement. Proof of purchase is required.


8:54 am Comment Count Tags: cookbooks
October, 30th 2012

“Ok guys! We are open at 9!!!”

green onionThat’s Blue Moon Café in Fells Point reporting in on Facebook this morning as are many other food places. Civilization continues.

For up-to-date info, check Twitter using the hashtags #openinbmore and #openinbalto.

Here is a smattering of today's tweets and Facebook posts:

From Green Onion market in Hamilton:

“Wow! That was a doozy. We hope everyone came through ok. We will be opening at 11 am this morning. If you need food, company or just a walk, come see us. [Clementine] will be open for dinner tonight. We will have hot food, good company and cold beer. Room temperature red wine, too.”

From Hamilton Bakery:

“Made it through power intact. Hope you and yours did too. Going down early to make some coffee and croissants. Join me if you like but be safe.”

From Wit & Wisdom

“TODAY: $18 Breakfast Buffet until 10:30am, a la carte Lunch at 11:30am, a la carte Dinner at 6pm.”

From Atwater’s

“Falls Road opening at 11:00 am. For more Hours visit us on our Webpage or Facebook.”

From Slainte Irish Pub

“We are open for business! $10 bottomless mimosa and Bloody Mary until 11am... Let's get this post-Sandy party started!”

From Sotto Sopra

“Good morning everyone...we hope you have survived Sandy's arrival. We have power, we have food so if you are in the area we are open for lunch as well as dinner tonight. Do stop by.”

From Café Gia Ristorante

“We will be closed for lunch due to the driving restrictions imposed by our mayor, we will however, be open for dinner at 5. Be safe and stay dry!”

It promises to be a good day to eat at area restaurants, especially in the city once the driving ban is lifted at noon. Bon appetit!


October, 29th 2012

Gordon Biersch open; who else?

Gordon Biersch logoBaltimore’s first Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant officially opened to the public today in Harbor East despite the crazy storm that has thrown many restaurant schedules into turmoil. Restaurants are advising diners to call ahead before venturing out.

Richard Gorelick of The Sun has done us all a favor by suggesting that restaurants use the hashtag #openinbalto on Twitter to let people know what they’re doing. It’s an easy way to check before you go.

I’m housebound today or else I would have headed to the new Gordon Biersch for lunch. They’re conveniently located on the first floor of my office building at 1000 Lancaster St. I’ll get there soon.

General manager Jon Jones had this to say in a press release about opening during the deluge of Hurricane Sandy:
“After spending the last few months preparing for our grand opening, my staff and I could not be more excited. … We are eager to join the vibrant and growing Baltimore dining scene and get our taps flowing!”

Gordon Biersch offers a made-from-scratch menu with California-inspired cuisine, featuring items like lobster and shrimp tacos, a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich, and bistro steak medallions, plus handcrafted German beers. The Baltimore restaurant has a 279-seat dining room and bar, a 50-seat patio with views of the waterfront (maybe not a good idea today!), and an on-site brewery.

They opened at 11 a.m. this morning, but it’s a good idea to give them a call at 410-230-9501 to see if the weather conditions affect their hours for the rest of the day and week.


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