March, 29th 2013

Easter Menus Around Town

Baltimore magazine

Several local restaurants are planning impressive Easter brunches and dinners. For those of you who want to spend March 31 feasting on a meal other than chocolate bunnies and jellybeans, here are some options.

822 Lancaster St., 410-547-8282. 

What’s hoppin’: This fine-dining Italian restaurant is offering a supplemental menu for Easter dinner in addition to its a la carte options.

When: 4-9 p.m.

Price: $29-62 for a four-course dinner, plus the cost for optional wine pairings. All items are also offered a la carte.

On the menu: Lamb and other traditional Easter dishes.

Darker Than Blue Cafe
3034 Greenmount Ave., 443-872-4468. 

What’s hoppin’: This all-inclusive brunch buffet includes live jazz music by The Kevin Thornton Trio.

When: Three seating times—11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1-2:30 p.m., and 3-4:30 p.m.

Price: $25.95 per person.

On the menu: Comfort foods, like waffles, grits, and eggs made to order. One free mimosa per person will also be served.

Fleet Street Kitchen
1012 Fleet St., 410-244-5830. 

What’s hoppin’: The restaurant is offering three-course, prix-fixe meals. The restaurant will serve brunch for the first time since opening last year, followed by dinner.

When: Brunch from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., dinner from 5-9 p.m.

Price: Brunch is $39 per person; dinner is $49 per person, plus $25 for an optional wine pairing.

On the menu: For brunch, lobster soup, butternut squash toast, and slow-roasted leg of lamb. For dinner, duck confit, caramelized sea scallops, and roasted veal loin. Desserts include carrot cake, chocolate macaroons, and a dark chocolate tart.

Fleming’s Steakhouse
720 Aliceanna St., 410-332-1666. 

What’s hoppin’: Enjoy a three-course brunch at this upscale spot in Harbor East. Each reservation receives a $25 dining card for future use at the restaurant.

When: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Price: $36.95 per person, $17.95 for children 12 and under. Excludes tax, gratuity, and cocktails.

On the menu: Lobster bisque, prime rib, and Fleming’s egg strata (an open-faced omelet with cream, vegetables, pico de gallo, and chèvre cheese). For children, a fresh fruit salad, chicken strips and fries, and French toast.

4800 Roland Ave., 410-773-0777. 

What’s hoppin’: Johnny’s offers an Easter brunch buffet. The Easter bunny will make a special appearance from 2-4 p.m.

When: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Price: $29 per person, $19 for children 12 and under.

On the menu: Dishes include potato egg torta, black bean dip, lamb empanadas, and roasted pork shoulder.

Lebanese Taverna
719 S. President St., 410-244-5533. 

What’s hoppin’: An “All About the Lamb” menu will be offered, along with the regular a la carte menu. Reservations are requested.

When: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Price: About $24 for individual plates and $30-$40 for family-sized.

On the menu: Sharhat (sliced lamb loin with an herb sauce), habra nayeh (fresh-chopped lamb with garlic, olive oil, and mint), and slow-roasted leg of lamb are a few examples.

Morton’s The Steakhouse
300 S. Charles St., 410-547-8255. 

What’s hoppin’: A three-course Easter dinner is being offered.

When: 3–9 p.m.

Price: $59 per person.

On the menu: 6 ounce center-cut filet mignon, honey-chili glazed salmon filet, chicken bianco, and double-cut prime rib pork chop.

Mt. Washington Tavern
5700 Newbury St., 410-367-6903. 

What’s hoppin’: The restaurant is offering Baltimore-inspired options.

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Price: A la carte pricing ($10-$17).

On the menu: Choices include Charm City Benedict (fried green tomatoes, sautéed spinach, lump crab and hollandaise on biscuits), jumbo lump crab cakes, and smoked salmon latkes.

The Oceanaire
801 Aliceanna St., 443-872-0000. 

What’s hoppin’: The seafood restaurant is serving an a la carte brunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended.

When: 12-9 p.m. Brunch selections will be served until 2 p.m.

Price: A la carte pricing ($13.95-$38.95).

On the menu: Mostly seafood dishes, with salads, soups, and steaks also available.

Old Stein Inn
1143 Central Ave., Edgewater, 410-798-6807. 

What’s hoppin’: A German-style brunch buffet will be offered.

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Price: $22 per person, $10 for children 12 and under, free for children 4 and under.

On the menu: Traditional German brunch fare, like strudel, brat-gravy biscuits, museli, and breakfast schnitzel.

1425 Aliceanna St., 410-534-7296. 

What’s hoppin’: The lounge-style restaurant is serving an Easter buffet feast with a Spanish flair. Complimentary valet parking is available.

When: 12-6 p.m.

Price: $44 per person, $25 for children 12 and under.

On the menu: Tapas, like chorizo fresco empanadas, and entrees including wood-grilled hanger steak, mahi-mahi “a la planxa,” and vegetable paella.

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion
720 Aliceanna St., 410-659-0099. 

What’s hoppin’: The restaurant is serving a special brunch menu. Each reservation receives a $25 dining card for future use at Roy’s.

When: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Price: $29.95 per person for two courses, $12.95 for children, or a la carte pricing ($8.95-$33.95).

On the menu: Brunch classics and seafood choices, like crab and corn chowder, steak “loco moco” (grilled hangar steak, sunny-side-up egg, fried rice, and soy mushroom gravy), and Hawaiian-style Misoyaki butterfish.

Rusty Scupper
402 Key Hwy., 410-727-3678. 

What’s hoppin’: The Scupper’s annual Easter buffet offers more than 20 breakfast and lunch options. Reservations are required.

When: Scheduled seatings from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Price: $43.95 per person, $19.95 for children 10 and under.

On the menu: Salads, main entrees, a raw bar, and desserts.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse
1 E. Pratt St., 410-962-5503. 

What’s hoppin’: Sullivan’s is offering an all-American three-course brunch.

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Price: $32 per adult, $8 for children.

On the menu: Classics including French toast, eggs Benedict, shrimp scampi, and meatloaf.

Ten Ten
1010 Fleet St., 410-244-6867. 

What’s hoppin’: Ten Ten is serving a three-course brunch, followed by a three-course dinner.

When: Brunch from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., dinner from 5-9 p.m.

Price: Brunch is $24 per person; dinner is $36 per person, and a wine pairing is available for $20.

On the menu: For brunch, an Easter granola mix (pear, caramelized fennel, and orange crème fraîche), sour-cream pancakes, and a bacon leek frittata. For dinner, steak tartare, crab dumplings, and ricotta gnocchi.

Vino Rosina
507 S. Exeter St., 410-528-8600. 

What’s hoppin’: The restaurant’s Easter egg brunch includes a complimentary basket of dyed eggs. There will be a lucky egg in one of the baskets. If you find it, you’ll win a bottle of wine. Reservations are recommended.

When: 12-5 p.m.

Price: A la carte pricing ($6-18).

On the menu: The restaurant’s regular a la carte brunch selections, like salmon Benedict, buttermilk pancakes, and a breakfast burger, accompanied by several chef signature dishes.

Wit & Wisdom Tavern
Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, 200 International Dr., 410-223-1464. 

What’s hoppin’: Early birds can admire the morning sun over the harbor and the panoramic views from inside Wit & Wisdom’s cozy waterfront dining room. Reservations are required.

When: Two-hour seating slots available from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Price: $45 per person, $30 for children 12 and under.

On the menu: Hot and cold buffet options, including a wild mushroom and spinach frittata, pastries by chef Chris Ford, a carving station with smoked ham and poached salmon, and more.

The Wine Market Bistro
921 E. Fort Ave., 410-244-6166. 

What’s hoppin’: The Wine Market is serving a three-course brunch.

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Price: $26 per person.

On the menu: New American cuisine, like Nutella fig pancakes, a Maine lobster salad, and passion fruit sorbet.

10:12 am Comment Count Tags: holidays, specials
March, 27th 2013

Two Baltimore Restaurants Make "Hot Spot" list

Baltimore magazine

Noting the restaurants' "sexy see-and-be-seen ambiance," OpenTable announced its 2013 Diners' Choice Award winners this morning. Ouzo Bay and The Food Market made the list of the "Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in the United States."

OpenTable, an online reservation provider, also cited the winning restaurants for their "cool crowds, daring drink lists, and inventive menus."

Both Baltimore restaurants are also included in our "50 Best Restaurants" this year. Ouzo Bay in Harbor East ranks number one. The Food Market in Hampden is number 22.

Yay to both restaurants. 

10:18 am Comment Count Tags: award, restaurants
March, 25th 2013

Tonight: Baltimore on “Bizarre Foods”

Baltimore magazine

Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods America, took a culinary tour of Baltimore and beyond last summer, visiting Lexington Market, Korean restaurants, an urban garden, and one of the city's last arabbers. The episode airs tonight at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel.

Meanwhile on ABC-TV, Ravens Jacoby Jones and skater Dorothy Hamill keep the spotlight on Baltimore on Dancing with the Stars as they perform sometime during tonight's 8-10 p.m. show.

Will you be a channel switcher or TiVo one of them? What a good problem to have.

Nam KangAs Jacoby and Dorothy battle it out in DWTS's first elimination round, Andrew Zimmern will be giving us a taste of our environs. I had a chance to meet Andrew in June at the Korean restaurant Nam Kang on Maryland Avenue, where he sampled the restaurant's octopus bibimbap, pictured, and other dishes.

He also headed to Ellicott City to continue his eating foray at Shin Chon Garden Restaurant, where his local emissary Henry Hong joined him at the table, pictured top, Andrew, left, with Henry.

After acting as Zimmern's tour guide, Henry, a freelance contributor to Baltimore magazine, wrote an article for our March issue about the area's Korean restaurants. He also included a helpful guide on Korean foods.

While Andrew was in town, he also stopped by JM Clayton Seafood, a crab processing plant, in Cambridge, to pick crabs. He then paired up with chef Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen to harvest sorrel at the city's Five Seeds Farm to prepare a meal.

The affable TV personality also found time to stop by Angie's Soul Food in Lexington Market, Hollins Market, and Chaps Charcoal Restaurant among other places.

It will be interesting to see how the city is portrayed in tonight's show. I'm expecting a positive look.

During his visit, Andrew told me he wants to let viewers know that Baltimore is "not just the commercial chain restaurants [at the Inner Harbor]."

He also said, "Baltimore is trending. . . . What's going on here is fantastic." 

Photos: Travel Channel

10:49 am Comment Count Tags: chefs, restaurants, TV
March, 21st 2013

The Olive Room Remains Open

Baltimore magazine

The owners of The Inn at the Black Olive filed for bankruptcy, canceling this morning's scheduled auction of the luxury boutique hotel.

The Spiliadis family, which owns the Inn near Harbor East, is working to keep the property, which also includes the rooftop Olive Room, pictured, one of our 50 "Best Restaurants," and the Agora Gourmet Market.

The bankruptcy buys them time.

"While I breathe, I hope," said Stelios Spiliadis, who oversees the 12-room Inn with his wife, Pauline, and his son, Demitris.

The family also runs the popular Black Olive restaurant, number five on our "Best Restaurants" list, in Fells Point.

The announcement of the cancellation was made this morning in the Inn's lobby.

Like his dad, Dimitris also breathed a sigh of relief afterward. "We're going to beat this," he said. "We're going to do this." 

March, 20th 2013

Return of the Food Truck Gatherings

Baltimore magazine

Celebrate the arrival of spring at Friday's food-truck Gathering. More than a dozen trucks will line up from 5-10 p.m. at the building called "The Castle" at Keswick and 34th Streets in Hampden.

You'll find Gypsy Queen, Kooper's Chowhound Burger Wagon, Jolly Pig, Miss Shirley's, Iced Gems, Charm City Gourmet, Souper Freaks, Grr Che, and more.

There will be drinks and music, too. Live entertainment will feature Soul Centered. All-you-can-drink wristbands will be available for $20.

The next Gathering will be on March 29 at McHenry Row.

Let the season begin. 

March, 18th 2013

Spike Gjerde Named James Beard Finalist

Baltimore magazine

Spike Gjerde, chef/co-owner of Woodberry Kitchen, is one of five James Beard Foundation finalists in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category. Cindy Wolf of Charleston, who was a semifinalist in the category, did not make it to the finals, which were announced today.

While Spike was nominated, his restaurant Woodberry Kitchen, a semifinalist in the Outstanding Bar Program, did not make the finalists' cut. Neither did semifinalist Charleston for the Outstanding Wine Program.

Pabu at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, also was not picked as a finalist.

Still, congratulations are in order for all the restaurants and chef Cindy Wolf. It's a prestigious honor to be chosen in the first round of semifinals.

Spike joins an impressive list of Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic finalist nominees: Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA; Johnny Monis, Komi, Washington, D.C.; Brad Spence, Amis, Philadelphia; and Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.

For a complete list of restautant and chef finalists, visit the James Beard Foundation website.

The winners will be revealed on May 6 at an awards ceremony in New York City.

Good luck, Spike. 

March, 18th 2013

The Dogwood Restaurant Closes

Baltimore magazine

Chef/owner Galen Sampson announced the closing of his popular Hampden restaurant The Dogwood early this morning on Facebook.

"At The Dogwood, we tried to do something innovative and risky, and the city and its people have always supported us," he wrote. "We are very grateful to you. Unfortunately, we had to close the doors of the restaurant."

It's very touching goodbye letter.

Galen and his wife Bridget faced other hurdles with the restaurant, closing for a while in 2009 before reopening that December.

On Facebook, Galen said Bridget is focusing on fiction writing, while he will be working on Bellair Farm, an organic farm outside of Charlottesville, VA, for the growing season.

"However, nothing will ever bring us the joy and the heartache, the fun and the challenge that The Dogwood did," he wrote. "The restaurant and all who supported it will remain in our hearts."

As Galen and Bridget will remain in ours. 

March, 15th 2013

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina

Baltimore magazine

Max's Empanadas won't go quietly into the night. Owner Max Gonzalez is saying goodbye to customers with a party next Friday, March 22, from 6-9 p.m.

He'll be popping Champagne while selling the last of his empanadas and bottles of wine from the Little Italy storefront. He wants the last day to be a celebration.

But that's not the end of Max's Empanadas, Max said. The wholesale end of the business is doing well with his products in area stores, including Eddie's, Milk & Honey, and Whole Foods. He'll also be selling his Argentine turnovers at area farmers' markets like Waverly and Bel Air, as well as being involved in catering.

The store will be open for another week, but check Max's Facebook page for the hours, subject to change, and other updates.

He's unaware of any plans for the store on High Street. Before he opened in early 2010, the shop housed Il Scalino, the delicatessen offshoot of La Scala Ristorante.

Max is upbeat about the future. When I stopped by today, he said, "I may do a new storefront in the future."

Until then, it looks like we'll still be able to enjoy Max's Empanadas. 

March, 15th 2013

Book Signing Rescheduled to Tonight

Baltimore magazine

The local authors of a "Food Lovers' Guide to Baltimore" will be signing copies of their new book tonight (March 15) from 6-8 p.m. at The Mallow Bar in Rosedale. The event was postponed a few weeks ago because of weather concerns.

Guests who stop by the "dessert bar" will get free hot chocolate shots and 10 percent off any cafe purchase. The shop is known for its signature Mallow Crunchies—crispy rice-cereal treats made with homemade marshmallow.

You can also meet Towson residents Kathy Wielech Patterson and her husband Neal, who wrote the "Food Livers' Guide." Their book is a great resource to area restaurants, markets, breweries, wineries, and more. It also includes recipes from several restaurants.

Kathy has been writing the blog for years. It's worth checking out, too. 

10:54 am Comment Count Tags: books, events
March, 14th 2013

Wit & Wisdom's Michael Mina Named to Who's Who

Baltimore magazine

Chef Michael Mina joins a prestigious group of culinary leaders named to the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation. He will be inducted into the program at an awards ceremony in New York City on May 6.

Mina, pictured, left, whose eponymous San Francisco restaurant has been awarded two Michelin stars, opened Wit & Wisdom: A Tavern by Michael Mina at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in November 2011. It is one of 20 restaurants he operates with the Mina Group around the country.

When I interviewed Mina at the Harbor East restaurant before its opening, he shared that he was excited about the concept of cooking with a wood fire at Wit & Wisdom. "You have great product here—seafood, pork—it screamed wood fire," he said. "I embraced the wood."

This year's other inductees into the Who's Who group, according to, are: Eric Asimov, the chief wine critic of the New York Times; Dorothy Kalins, founder of Saveur magazine; Barbara Lynch, Beard-award winning chef and restaurateur; Zarela Martinez, cookbook author and Mexican cuisine expert; and Bill Yosses, White House executive pastry chef and author.

It's quite a lineup.

Photo: Chef Michael Mina, left, with Patrick Yumul, president of the Mina Group, at Wit & Wisdom in 2011. 

March, 12th 2013

Snacks, cocktails to benefit Animal Rescue

Baltimore magazine

There's an incentive if you buy your tickets to this Creative Cocktail Creations event by 5 p.m. today (Tuesday). A lucky winner will be refunded their ticket price plus get an extra ticket for a friend.

The party is being held at 6 p.m. tomorrow (March 13) at Corradetti Glass Studio in historic Clipper Mill. It's a beautiful setting for a fund-raiser for the Animal Allies Rescue Foundation.

The food and drinks promise to be delicious, too. Brendan Dorr (bar chef at B&O American Brasserie) and Connor Rasmussen (mixologist at Woodberry Kitchen) will be concocting creative cocktails as part of the Baltimore Bartenders' Guild.

Chef's Expressions catering will be preparing bar snacks like duck sliders, Aquavit-infused shrimp, chicken lime lettuce wraps, and pumpkin squash soup.

Tickets are $45 pre-sale, $55 the day of the event, and are inclusive with valet parking.

Ticket holders can check Social Expressions Facebook page at 5:10 p.m. today to see if they won the special deal. 

10:27 am Comment Count Tags: cocktails, events
March, 11th 2013

Hamilton Bakery opens Fells Point shop

Baltimore magazine

Hamilton Bakery breadLess than two years after opening on Harford Road, Hamilton Bakery has a second location in Fells Point. You'll find the bakery's wonderful artisan breads, pictured, handmade pastries, various desserts, and more.

Evidently, people are already noticing the goods. The bakery posted on its Facebook page: "Love watching people walking by, then stopping dead in their tracks when they see our pastry display in the window."

The store opened last Wednesday in the space formerly occupied by the frozen-yogurt place Mr. Yogato at 723 S. Broadway, next to Joe's Bike Shop.

The display cases are filled with temptations like fig, anise, and walnut bread, almond croissants, cupcakes (the Heath Bar with coffee icing looked delicious), coffee cakes, muffins, full-size cakes, and savory sandwich loaves like the BBT (bacon, basil, and tomato on olive bread).

Hamilton Baker coffeeA coffee station, pictured, includes Zeke's custom Hamilton Bakery blend. There's also a comfy sofa and tables and chairs for lingering.

The Fells Point shop is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., and 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

The Friday and Saturday hours may be extended if the nightlife crowd warrants it, said owner Ruben Hernandez.

Photos by me 

March, 7th 2013

Half-Price Wines at Wine Market Bistro

Baltimore magazine

A month-long event includes a free wine tasting on Thursdays (yes, tonight). The Wine Market Bistro in Locust Point is celebrating eclectic wines during March by offering half-price wines by the glass Monday-Thursday in addition to the weekly tasting.

If you're interested in tonight's wine class with free samplings and a Q&A with Wine Market's wine director Lucien Walsh, please give the restaurant a call at 410-244-6166. There are still spaces open.

The class starts at 6 p.m. and will include five wines that aren't often found on local restaurant menus, organizers tell me.

Wine Market Bistro, one of Baltimore magazine's "Best Restaurants," also has an impressive selection of wines in its adjoining wine shop, pictured.

Photo courtesy of Wine Market Bistro's Facebook page. 

March, 4th 2013

Old Bay Can Goes Purple

Baltimore magazine

Oh, the spirit. Old Bay celebrates the Ravens Super Bowl win with a specially designed container in purple and yellow.

The 16-ounce, limited-edition can with a Ravens logo will be available in grocery stores including Giant, Food Lion, Mars, and Wegmans, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

The iconic spice blend is manufactured by McCormick, headquartered in Sparks. 

Photo courtesy of McCormick

2:08 pm Comment Count Tags: Old Bay, Ravens
March, 1st 2013

Chazz Palminteri visits Chazz Tonight

Baltimore magazine

Actor Chazz Palminteri will be visiting his namesake restaurant, Chazz: A Bronx Original, this evening while he's in Baltimore.

Co-owner/chef Sergio Vitale invited Facebook followers (and anyone else, I'm sure) to stop by the restaurant for dinner and have photos taken with the actor. As Sergio said, "Chazz loves his fans."

I found Chazz to be a gracious man when I interviewed him before the Harbor East restaurant opened in 2011. At the time, he explained his interest in owning a restaurant.

"It's a dream I've always had," said Chazz, pictured, sitting in his favorite booth at the restaurant. "I always wanted to open a restaurant, and I found the right people with Alessandro [Vitale] and Sergio."

Photo by me (June 2011). 

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