February, 28th 2013

Baltimore's Newest BBQ Place

Baltimore magazine

"If u smell smoke ur close," tweeted Carnivore BBQ about its opening this week in the historic Hollins Market on Baltimore's west side. It's the first brick-and-mortar location for the popular D.C. food-truck operation.

Accolades abound on the Internet about Carnivore BBQ's menu of barbecue, slaws, sauces, and rubs. Its own website says, "The pit master roasts our meats slowly over real hard-wood. In fact, it takes 22 hours to smoke both our brisket and pulled pork."

(I'm working up an appetite just writing about this.)

Earlier this week, The Washington Post wrote about a "craft-barbecue revival" (wood-only cooking), which is spreading on the East Coast. In the story, Carnivore BBQ's owner and pitmaster Stephen Adelson said he uses hickory that he chops himself.

"There's something about loading that wood box," he said. "The aroma. The flavor. You just don't go through as much communion with the other processes."

And it looks like Stephen is already considering expansion here. SouthBmore.com tweeted that Carnivore BBQ is hoping to add a Baltimore food truck in the future.

Lucky us.

Photo courtesy of Carnivore BBQ's website. 

February, 26th 2013

Restaurant Scammer in Slammer

Baltimore magazine

Under the tags "crime" and "Baltimore," national website eater.com today shared the story of a local guy who fakes seizures at restaurants to get out of paying his bill.

I'm sure tongues are wagging, "Only in Baltimore." Other stories on the website dealt with innocent topics like restaurant cookbooks, chefs doing the Harlem Shake, and a seven-patty steakburger.

Evidently, Andrew Palmer, pictured, has been convicted more than four dozen times of this fake-seizure scam, according to The Sun's Richard Gorelick in a blog post today.

But the 46-year-old Palmer met his comeuppance on Friday after being convicted of ditching tabs at Shuckers and Sullivan's Steakhouse, Richard wrote. Palmer will be serving a year in jail this time.

The website Baltimore Fishbowl predicted such a scenario in August 2012 when it wrote, "Palmer finally got sentenced to two years in prison in 2010, but he's out now and presumably back on the prowl—er, fall, rather."

Mark your calendars, local restaurants, for his release.

Photo courtesy of Baltimore City Police Dept. (Aug. 3, 2012) 

February, 25th 2013

Sip, Savor, & Stroll

Sip, Savor, & StrollUPDATED: The event is rescheduled to March 27. Tickets go quickly for this fun Harbor East event. On Wednesday, March 6, participants can visit some of the neighborhood's top restaurants and bars from 5:30-10:30 p.m. for cocktails, wines, and appetizers.

Participating spots for Sip, Savor, & Stroll include Bond Street Social, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Lebanese Taverna, Ouzo Bay, Oceanaire, Pabu, Talara, Wit & Wisdom, and more.

Each $49 ticket includes five cocktails and a selection of appetizers at five pre-determined venues, plus a complimentary welcome cocktail at check-in.

Tickets can be purchased online and must be reserved in advance. If you're interested, act now. The event is usually a sellout. 

February, 21st 2013

Book signing rescheduled

food lovers guide to baltimoreUPDATED: The book signing for a "Food Lovers' Guide to Baltimore"  at The Mallow Bar in Rosedale has been rescheduled to March because of tonight's weather forcast. The date has not been determined, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out.


February, 19th 2013

James Beard Semifinalists Announced

pabuBaltimore fared well. Pabu was nominated as Best New Restaurant. Chefs Cindy Wolf of Charleston and Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen got nods in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category.

Charleston was also cited for its Outstanding Wine Program, and Woodberry Kitchen was nominated for its Outstanding Bar Program.

The annual James Beard Foundation Awards for restaurant and chef award semifinalists were announced today. Congratulations to our nominees.

New restaurant Pabu, pictured, joins an impressive list of contenders, including Grace in Chicago and Ox in Portland, OR.

The restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in Harbor East opened in May last year. It's a collaboration of celebrated chef Michael Mina and noted sushi chef Ken Tominaga. Executive chef Jonah Kim leads the kitchen.

It's received lots of local praise, including being selected one of Washingtonian's best restaurants. I was happy with my meal there, too. You can read my review here. Also, look for our soon-to-be-released March "Best Restaurants" issue.

The seminfinalists' list is lengthy and will be whittled down to five finalists in each category on March 18.

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

Photo courtesy of Pabu's Facebook page. 

February, 18th 2013

Local bacon dishes star on TV

dempsey's bacon on a stickTune in tonight for bacon on a stick from Dempsey's, bacon-wrapped meatloaf from Bad Decisions, and jar-b-que from Kloby's Smokehouse. Those are just a couple of the local dishes that will be featured on Tuesday's episode of "United States of Bacon."

The restaurants will be celebrating their bacon celebrity with various celebrations before and during the 9 p.m. show on Discovery's Destination America channel.

Dempsey's Brew Pub & Restaurant at Oriole Park at Camden Yards will hold a viewing party, starting at 7:45 tonight. Namesake Rick Dempsey, former Orioles catcher, will be on hand for the festivities.

Of course, you can try the restaurant's bacon on a stick, pictured, first-hand while you're there.

Bad Decisions in Fells Point, which makes a memorable bacon-wrapped meatloaf with bacon-laced mac and cheese, will welcome viewers, too. They'll be passing out complimentary cooked strips of bacon to customers.

Kloby's Smokehouse in Laurel is planning a viewing party with special drink prices and various bacon dishes. Their jar-b-cue, a layered concoction of smoked pulled pork, pork belly, barbecue sauce, barbecue baked beans, and coleslaw, will be highlighted on the TV show, owner Steve Klobosits said.

In fact, the Baltimore episode is titled "Bacon Jar-B-Cue."

"United States of Barbecue," which features a chef searching the country for innovative bacon dishes, also visited The Bullpen (between Pickles Pub and Sliders) while it was filming the episode in December.

If you're watching from home, you may want to have some bacon on hand to stave off the pork cravings that are certain to occur.

Photo courtesy of Dempsey's Facebook page. 

5:58 pm Comment Count Tags: restaurants, TV
February, 14th 2013

Maggie's Farm Turns to Crowdsourcing

maggie's farmMaggie's Farm in Lauraville joins a number of businesses and individuals seeking crowdsourcing funds through Kickstarter. The restaurant in the former Chameleon space is hoping to raise $15,000 from supporters for various improvements.

A video, complete with cute children, accompanies the pitch. It gives insights into the dreams and challenges of the owners—chef Andrew Weinzirl, general manger Matthew Weaver, and pastry chef Laura Marino.

The new restaurant adheres to the farm-to-table philosophy initiated by Chameleon chef/owner Jeff Smith. So far, the dining room has been tweaked with fresh paint and new tabletops to create a friendly neighborhood vibe.

But more needs to be done, Andrew, Matt, and Laura explain in the video. The not-so-glamorous renovations include updates to the bathrooms, ceilings, and air conditioning.

To date, the restaurant has received $3,405 in pledges. It would like to collect the full amount by March 12.

And there are incentives. For instance, pledge $1,000 and receive a five-course tasting for four plus Maggie's Farm T-shirts. Give $10 and get a high five from the chef.

You have to admire the earnestness of the owners in the video.

Photo courtesy of Maggie's Farm's Facebook page. 

February, 13th 2013

Harbor East Deli closes for facelift

Harbor East DeliHarbor East Delicatessen and Pizzeria is closing on Sunday (Feb. 17) for renovations. "It will reopen soon after that," said Alex Smith, one of the owners.

The deli, pictured, on Aliceanna Street opened in May 2010. When the store reopens, it will offer breakfast service for the first time and also feature new lunch items.

I'll keep you posted on details. 

10:01 am Comment Count Tags: restaurants
February, 12th 2013

Fells Point celebrates Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras North

Sláinte Irish Pub, Kooper’s Tavern, and Woody’s Rum Bar celebrate Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday tonight with the annual Mardi Gras North event in Fells Point. Expect New Orleans-themed drinks and specialties.

Enjoy live music as you sip a Malibu hurricane, an Absolut masquerade punch, or Baltimore’s own Heavy Seas beer.

At Sláinte Irish Pub, fill up on traditional Cajun fare like blackened catfish, red beans and rice, chicken jambalaya, oyster po’ boys, and gumbo. And don’t miss out on the beignets, which are made from sweetened fried dough and are sprinkled with powdered sugar. The pub is open until 2 a.m.

Similar dishes are being served at Kooper’s Tavern, including étouffée, crawfish, blackened catfish wraps, fried shrimp po’ boys, and Cajun burgers. Kooper’s is open until 2 a.m. The kitchen closes at 12 a.m.

Part of the proceeds from Tuesday’s Mardi Gras North party will benefit the Tyanna Foundation, an organization that works to improve the lives of breast cancer patients and survivors in the Baltimore Region.

Image courtesy of Kooper's Tavern

Story by Samantha Iacia, Baltimore magazine intern.

February, 11th 2013

Valentine's Day Dining

RA Sushi ValentineUPDATED. Love is in the air and on the plate. Local chefs have outdone themselves coming up with special menus for Valentine's Day. Here are several restaurants around town that are planning romantic meals for Cupid's holiday. Check the restaurants' websites for the menus.

Adam’s Eve Gastropub, 3328 Foster Ave.

The Sweet Deal: Five-course, prix-fixe menu. Each couple receives a complimentary (187 ml) bottle of Prosecco with the course of their choosing.

Tariff: $65 per person.

Reservations: 410-327-6984.


B&O American Brasserie, 2 N. Charles St.

The Sweet Deal: Three-course and five-course menus with optional wine pairings. Each couple will be greeted with a glass of champagne.

Tariff: Three courses, $36 plus $20 with wine; five courses, $62 plus $32 with wine.

Reservations: 443-692-6172.


Bond Street Social, 901 S. Bond St.

The Sweet Deal: Four-course, prix-fixe menu.

Tariff: $50 a person.

Reservations: 443-449-6234.

Charleston, 1000 Lancaster St.

The Sweet Deal: Multi-course tasting menus.

Tariff: $129 per person; $189 with accompanying wines.

Reservations: 410-332-7373; complimentary valet parking.

Cinghiale, 822 Lancaster St.

The Sweet Deal: Multi-course Italian menu.

Tariff: $89 per person; $129 with paired wines.

Reservations: 410-547-8282; complimentary valet parking.

Crème Restaurant & Lounge, 518 N. Charles St.

The Sweet Deal: Three-course menu.

Tariff: $35 per person; $60 per couple.

Reservations: 443-869-3381.


Donna’s Cross Keys, 5100 Falls Rd.

The Sweet Deal: Four-course, prix-fixe menu, offered Feb. 14-16.

Tariff: $45 a person.

Reservations: 410-532-7611.


Fleet Street Kitchen, 1012 Fleet St.

The Sweet Deal: Three-course, prix-fixe menu; available all weekend, either á la carte or prix fixe.

Tariff: $69, optional wine pairing $29.

Reservations: 410-244-5830.


McFaul's IronHorse Tavern, 2260 Cromwell Bridge Rd., Parkville.

The Sweet Deal: Three-course meal including two chocolate-covered strawberries, offered Feb. 14-16.

Tariff: $80 per couple; optional wine pairings, $20 a bottle.

Reservations: 410-828-1625.

Mr. Rain's Fun House, American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Hwy.

The Sweet Deal: "Four Base Valentine's Menu" with optional wine pairings.

Tariff: $55 plus $30 for wine pairings.

Reservations: 443-524-7370.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room, 801 Aliceanna St.

The Sweet Deal: Valentine specialties.

Tariff: Varies.

Reservations: 443-872-0000.

The Old Stein Inn, 1143 Central Ave., Edgewater.

The Sweet Deal: Prix-fixe, German-influenced menu for two, available Feb. 13-17.

Tariff: $60 for two plus tax and gratuity.

Reservations: 410-798-6807.

Pabu, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, 725 Aliceanna St.

The Sweet Deal: Four-course menu.

Tariff: $65 plus tax and gratuity; optional $30 sommelier pairing.

Reservations: Email Shannon Toback; 410-223-1464.

Pazo, 1425 Aliceanna St.

The Sweet Deal: A trio of prix-fixe menus with optional wine pairings.

Tariff: $55, $65, or $79 per person.

Reservations: 410-534-7296; complimentary valet parking.

RA Sushi, 1390 Lancaster St.

The Sweet Deal: A special pairing: heart-shaped sushi with a cocktail, pictured, offered Feb. 14-17.

Tariff: Dish, $10; cocktail, $8.

Reservations: 410-522-3200.

Rusty Scupper, 402 Key Hwy.

The Sweet Deal: Special menu, including seafood dishes.

Tariff: Prices vary.

Reservations: 410-727-3678.

Sláinte Irish Pub and Restaurant, 1700 Thames St.

The Sweet Deal: Five-course menu with whiskey tasting and cocktail pairings.

Tariff: $45, single; $80, couple (tax and gratuity excluded).

Reservations: Email Willy; 410-563-6600.

Sullivan's Steakhouse, 1 E. Pratt St.

The Sweet Deal: Prix-fixe menu for two, offered Feb. 14-16.

Tariff: $89; specialty cocktail, "Kiss Royale," $10.

Reservations: 410-962-5503.

Ten Ten, 1010 Fleet St.

The Sweet Deal: Three courses.

Tariff: $49 per person; optional wine pairing $25.

Reservations: 410-244-6867.

Vino Rosina, 507 S. Exeter St.

The Sweet Deal: Three-course, prix-fixe dinner from 5-9 p.m.

Tariff: $65 per person.

Reservations: 410-528-8600.

Waterfront Kitchen, 1417 Thames St.

The Sweet Deal: Four-course, prix-fixe tasting menu.

Tariff: $69 a person; regular menu not available.

Reservations: 443-681-5310.

Wine Market Bistro, 921 E. Fort Ave.

The Sweet Deal: Four-course menu, offered Feb. 14-16.

Tariff: $55 per person.

Reservations: 410-244-6166.

Wit & Wisdom: A Tavern by Michael Mina, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, 200 International Dr.

The Sweet Deal: Three-course, prix-fixe menu.

Tariff: $75 plus tax and gratuity.

Reservations: 410-223-1456.

Photo courtesy of RA Sushi. 

February, 8th 2013

Maryland's 300-pound crab cake

crab cakeIt's official. Maryland's Handy International Inc. broke the record for the world's largest crab cake, according to Guinness World Records. It was a whopper—300 pounds.

The Salisbury seafood processor made the crab cake, pictured, with fresh Maryland crabmeat last September at the Maryland State Fair. The world record was confirmed recently.

Ironically, Handy beat its own previous record. I can't wait to see what they do next.

The State Fair crab cake also went to a good cause. It was divided into 584 crab-cake sandwiches with the proceeds going to the Maryland 4-H Foundation.

To watch a video of the crab cake being prepared, go to Handy's website.

Photo courtesy of Handy International's website 

11:18 am Comment Count Tags: crab cake
February, 7th 2013

Finally, Food at The Admiral's Cup

admiral's cup dining roomThe Admiral's Cup in Fells Point introduces its menu on Monday. It was worth the wait.

The bar/restaurant, which opened in October, is striving to be a "local pub," where diners can enjoy classic seafood staples and locally crafted beers, said Kenneth Petty—a managing partner of Kali's Restaurant Group, which owns The Admiral's Cup plus other restaurants in the neighborhood—in an email.

The menu includes small plates like crab dip and oysters on the half shell, sandwiches like shrimp salad and a baby scallop New England roll, entrees like crab cakes and steamed little neck clams, and more.

Carnivores need not worry. There are pork ribs, lamb sliders, chili dogs, and a "Bo Brat" (a Natty Boh braised bratwurst) available, too.

Much of the food is sourced locally from purveyors including Big City Farms and Roma Gourmet Sausage, both in Baltimore.

Local brews include Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Flying Dog Pearl Necklace, and Brewer's Art Ozzy.

The historic Admiral's Cup building underwent a two-year renovation before opening its first floor in the fall. Rita St. Clair Associates fashioned the space with a low-key nautical theme.

The pretty banquettes, pictured, in the small dining room are covered in old sails that have been made into fabric.

The front bar area is decorated with captain's wheels, rudders, and portholes. Local musicians perform Wed.-Sat. from 9 p.m.-12 a.m.

"It will make for a really fun environment for drinking, dining, enjoying live music, and having a good time in general," Kenneth said.

The kitchen will serve dinner from 5-10 p.m. Hours will be extended in the spring and summer.

Photo by me 

February, 6th 2013

Sofi's Crepes in Fells Point

sofi's crepesThe newest Sofi's Crepes is one-week-old today. The cute eatery is tucked along a walkway in the Brown's Wharf complex off Thames Street in Fells Point.

The décor, pictured below, is bright and colorful with tables and counters for indoor dining. There's outdoor seating when the weather warms. And carryout is also available.

This Sofi's is open on Fridays and Saturdays until 2 a.m., which is great for the neighborhood's hungry bar crowd who can place orders at a walk-up window. The crêpes are conveniently wrapped in foil for easy munching.

Sofi's Crepes has several locations around town, including the original restaurant near the Charles Theater. This one (1627 Thames St., 410-563-0471) is a franchise store owned by Mike Calhoun.

Mike is a Baltimore native who got tired of "working for corporate America in sales," he said. He discovered Sofi's Crepes while going to the Charles. He worked at that store part-time, learning the business while searching for his own space.

"Fells Point is one of my favorite places," he said. "It captures the tourists, the local people, and has lots of businesses here."

sofi's fells pointThe menu of sweet and savory crêpes is the same no matter which Sofi's you visit. This afternoon, a friend and I tried the "Classic" (ham, Gruyère, and Dijon) and the crêpe Florentine (fresh spinach, mushrooms, Gruyère, and sunflower seeds drizzled with pepper-Parmesan sauce), pictured above. Both were delicious.

We didn't stop there. We also shared a "Banana Royale" crêpe with banana slices and just-sweet-enough homemade butterscotch sauce.

When Mike found out we wanted to split the dessert crêpe, he offered to cut it in half for us. (He didn't know who I was.) Adding to the friendly atmosphere, he also walked around the dining area with samples of cinnamon-sugar crêpes for everyone to try.

Thanks, Mike.

Photos by me 

February, 4th 2013

Free IHOP Pancakes on Tuesday

IHOP pancakesIHOP celebrates National Pancake Day on Feb. 5 by offering diners a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes, pictured. The promotion takes place from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

In return, guests are asked to consider leaving a voluntary donation to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Since 2006 when National Pancake Day started, IHOP has raised more than $10 million for various charities.

There are several IHOPs around town, including one at 6820 Loch Raven Blvd. in Towson.

Photo courtesy of IHOP's Facebook page 

January, 29th 2013

100-year-old bakery scores big

Ravens cakesFenwick Bakery in Parkville is all about the Ravens these days. It's been churning out its popular mini football cakes for weeks and will continue to do so right up until Super Bowl Sunday.

The small pound cakes are $1.25 each and $15 a dozen. "We will continue to take orders until the last minute," says co-owner Michael Meckel.

Mike is as proud of the Ravens as he is of the bakery, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. He's worked there for 33 years and purchased the bakery in 1994 with another longtime employee, Claudette Wilson.

The business partners bought the shop from Walter Uebersax, whose family founded the bakery, then known as Uebersax Bakery, in 1913.

The bakery is a "love story," they say, that began when Ernest and Alvena Uebersox married and started the shop on what is now Washington Boulevard. Eventually, the bakery was renamed and re-located to Harford Road, where it continues to thrive.

Team work. It works. Go Ravens! 

Photo courtesy of Fenwick Bakery's Facebook page

3:40 pm Comment Count Tags: bakery, cake, Ravens
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