You can find soft shells on menus all over Baltimore this week – including at R. House, where The Big Softy pop-up is open until May 14.
You can find soft shells on menus all over Baltimore this week – including at R. House, where The Big Softy pop-up is open until May 14.

Raining or not, this weekend and week offer a lot of opportunities to eat well and have fun. Here’s a look at what’s on tap in Baltimore this week:

Openings & Announcements

Cilantro, the fast casual Mediterranean spot in Owings Mills, will open a downtown outpost this week. On Monday, May 8, those in the area of 30 Light Street will have access to Cilantro’s shawarma, pita and terrific sauces.

This week, the team behind Anthem House, a new residential building in Locust Point, announced the upcoming opening of a new restaurant. The restaurant, called Amber, is projected to open sometime during fall 2017. It will focus on coffee and craft beer and will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Starting this week, Gnocco will offer a new happy hour menu, dubbed Cinque per Cinque – five small plates and five drink specials for $5 each.

Beginning May 23, Aromes in Hampden will shift from a prix fixe menu to an a la carte menu featuring French bistro fare.

Sadly, Green Onion food market in Hamilton announced this week that it will close its doors sometime before mid-month. Until then, the owner is offering a discount on “just about everything in the store.”


FlowerMart returns to Mt. Vernon today and tomorrow, with tons of vendors, piles of blooms, kids activities, crafts, music, dancing and a bunch of new food and drink options including a wine bar and craft beer garden — and, of course, lemon peppermint sticks.

FlowerMart is a great opportunity to pick up flowers, but it’s also a fun way to spend a day in the city – and to support good causes. A percentage of this year’s proceeds benefit Mt. Vernon Place Conservancy and House of Ruth Maryland.

Crab Season

As diehard soft shell lovers no doubt know, right now is prime soft crab time. Restaurants all over the region have the delicious critters on their menus right now – you’ll find gorgeous ones at Gertrude’s, Victoria Gastro Pub and at R. House, where the Big Softy soft crab pop-up will be running through May 14.

If you’re looking for something even more exotic, Azumi has you covered. It’s river crab season and the Japanese restaurant’s famed Sawagani crabs, harvested from the Miyazaki River, are back on the menu. They are flash-fried and sprinkled with sea salt and lime – and they are an absolute treat.

Busy Saturday

The Kinetic Sculpture Race, the wild, artsy, eight-hour Inner Harbor race, is this Saturday. While it doesn’t have much to do with food, it’s certainly a sight to behold.

There’s another race on Saturday, as well – and this one does have to do with the culinary arts. Charm City Wine Run, which is organized in conjunction with Baltimore Wine & Food Festival, starts and ends at Rash Field – the location of the festival – on Saturday. If you time things right, you just might be able to participate in the wine run, check out the kinetic sculptures and get back to the festival, all before noon.

Starting at noon, Barcocina will host Picnic on the Pier, the first of four summertime events on the Broadway Pier. The party will include food, beer, cocktails and music from DJs and a live band.

Saturday is also the annual taco festival at Heavy Seas. As usual, the event is sold out – but even if you haven’t gotten tickets, its arrival is a good reminder to put it on your calendar for next year.

On Saturday evening, Peabody Heights Brewery and Rice & Curry will host a pop-up dinner featuring Sri Lankan home cooking from Chef Skiz Fernando.

Getting Around on Saturday

With so much happening, one good way to make the most of your Saturday is to take advantage of a special hop-on/hop-off bus service offered by Visit Baltimore, just for the day (Saturday also happens to be Baltimore Tourism Day!). The buses, which are free for all riders and available on a first-come, first-serve basis, will run three routes around the city between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The bus routes will hit numerous city neighborhoods (where there’s plenty to see and eat) – the Inner Harbor Loop will get you to places like Little Italy and Harbor East, the Mount Vernon Loop will drop into food-friendly neighborhoods like Remington and the Historic Pennsylvania Avenue Loop will go from Lexington Market through South Baltimore and the Inner Harbor.

Derby Days

The 143rd Kentucky Derby also takes place this Saturday, which means this weekend is prime mint julep time.

Bars and restaurants around the area are hosting viewing parties and offering fun promotions for the race. Some tried-and-true options are the Ryleigh’s Oyster Hunt Valley party, which includes Derby-inspired small plates and specials on mint juleps and Sagamore whiskey crushes, Manor Tavern’s horse country Derby cocktail party and the Mt. Washington Tavern, where throughout the month, the team behind the bar will serve up Sagamore Rye cocktails created to honor the races, available in special edition take-home glasses.

Though they’re a newcomer to the scene, the Gunther & Co. Derby party also sounds like it will be a good time, with mint juleps, old fashions and Kentucky mules available on the patio.

Update: Commenter Natalie has chimed in with another good option: the 4th Annual Derby Party at The Chasseur in Canton, which includes bands and a beer tent and is a fundraiser for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

Wednesday Benefits

On Wednesday, Waterfront Kitchen will host a wine cruise benefiting Living Classrooms’ Tall Ships program. The 90-minute cruise aboard the Lady Maryland will feature wine and cheese and after a tour of the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay, guests will head back to Waterfront Kitchen for a three-course dinner with paired wines.

The same night, the team at Abbey Burger Bistro will host Burgers for Babies, during which a portion of proceeds will go to benefit Jhpiego, a Fells Point-based nonprofit health organization. The event is part of a bigger initiative in which Fells Point businesses will be hosting events benefiting the organization throughout the month of May.

Local Faves Team Up

Also on Wednesday, folks from the Oyster Recovery Partnership will be at The Local Oyster, hosting a “fun-raiser” raising money to fund oyster education programs for Baltimore City youth. The event includes $1 oysters, $5 beers (Waverly Brewing Co.’s Oyster Stout and Brewer’s Art’s Choptank’d Saison), raffles, prizes and trivia.

And on Friday, May 12, Union Brewery will be the site of a collaboration between two of the city’s hottest foodmakers: blacksauce and Ekiben. The pair both got their start at farmers’ markets, where they developed followings that continue to grow.

A Night at the Opera

Chef’s Expressions will host a Night at the Opera wine supper at Gramercy Mansion on Friday, May 12. The evening, which benefits the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance, will feature live opera performances alongside dishes like roasted rosemary sea scallops with cornbread crumpet, rosemary chevre butter and smoked bacon beurre blanc paired with a 2015 albarino.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. If you haven’t made plans with your mother yet, call her! Make some! Here’s a look at what some Baltimore restaurants are doing to celebrate moms:

La Cuchara will offer a three-course Mother’s Day brunch with dishes like crispy oyster bocadillo (for the more adventurous) and smoked salmon with olive oil brioche (for the traditionalists).

At Aromes, a three-course brunch will include dishes like a croque madam waffle with rosemary ham and gruyere.

Charleston will offer a four-course menu inspired by spring flavors – and a variety of new French wines that have just been added to the cellar.

At Petit Louis, the regular menu will be available, along with several Mother’s Day specials.

Bar Vasquez will offer the regular a la carte menu, plus a pre-fixe menu with dishes like octopus and smoked potato salad and Uruguayan hanger steak. There will also be live music during brunch.

Aldo’s Jazz Brunch will feature dishes like smoked salmon benedict and lobster BLT…plus all sorts of bubbly brunch cocktails.

At Cinghiale, a three-course prix-fixe brunch includes an antipasti spread and dishes like poached eggs with polenta, English peas, guanciale and sage hollandaise.

Johnny’s Mother’s Day brunch buffet starts at 9 a.m. and includes prime rib and eggs benedict stations, among other things.

Hersh’s will be serving one of its rare brunches, including dishes like breakfast buns with broccoli rabe and pecorino and a drink called the Mother’s Ruin.

At Rusty Scupper, the brunch buffet includes a wide variety of dishes, from Belgian waffles to a full raw bar.

Mt. Washington Tavern will host a special Mother’s Day buffet brunch in the Pimlico Room and Sky Bar and an a la carte brunch menu in the front bar and Chesapeake Room. All moms visiting on Mother’s Day will also receive a special herbal scrub gift.

B&O American Brasserie will host an early buffet, starting at 8 a.m., with dishes like dark chocolate waffles and an expanded brunch menu from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with everything from omelets to fried chicken.

At The Elephant, Mother’s Day brunch and dinner will feature specially-created menus including dishes like cedar plank salmon, asparagus ravioli and Jerusalem artichoke and spring onion soup.

Sotto Sopra has expanded its hours on Mother’s Day to accommodate even more people. The restaurant will be open from noon until 9 p.m., serving its a la carte menu.

At The French Kitchen in the Lord Baltimore Hotel, brunch starts at 7 a.m. and includes dishes like chilled strawberry soup and baked salmon en croute.

Planning Ahead

Here are a few events to look forward to over the next few weeks:

May 25: Fermenting, Preserving and Canning Origins Series at Artifact Coffee 

May 26: Sweet and Savory at Prigel Family Creamery

June 24: Farm Fest at Manor Hill Tavern

Kit Waskom Pollard is a Baltimore Fishbowl contributing writer. She writes Hot Plate every Friday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.

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