Hot Plate: Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week, Cask & Grain Opens, Trinacria Menu Reboot

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Wet City, in Mid-town Belvedere, has recently started lunch service – including soups, salads, sandwiches and some heartier fare

Less than two weeks into 2017, Baltimore restaurateurs seem to have recovered from the busy holiday season. This week brings tons of new restaurant opening news, several excellent events, and the beginning of Baltimore Winter Restaurant week.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in and around town over the next few days:

Restaurant Week Starts!

The big news this week is that Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week starts today!

On Tuesday, Visit Baltimore partnered with The Brewer’s Art for a kickoff dinner sponsored by Boulevard Brewing, showcasing the restaurant’s Restaurant Week menu, plus pairings from Boulevard and from Brewer’s Art’s collection of beers. If that dinner was any indication, Baltimore food lovers are in for a treat this coming week. (And if you make your way to Brewer’s Art, get the oyster stew. It’s fantastic.)

This year, there are 107 restaurants participating and, like last summer, the pricing structure is flexible. Two-course lunches and brunches will range from $12 to $20, and three-course dinners are between $20 and $35. There are a lot of beer and wine pairings to be had, as well, plus other features like live music and free valet.

The Restaurant Week website has menus for many of the restaurants participating. Check them out and choose wisely!

Openings All Over

This week brought with it a ton of great restaurant news, including new spots opening right away and over the next few months.

Wet City, a fairly recent addition to Mid-town Belvedere, has recently introduced lunch service. With a killer burger, plus good sandwiches and salads, it’s a satisfying spot for a sit-down lunch.

Plus, the bar’s impressive draught beer list is available in multiple-sized pours. Try an eight-ounce pour of something interesting; the small size is perfect for lunch.

In Canton, the owner of Portside Tavern has opened a new restaurant, Cask & Grain Kitchen, right next door to the popular bar. Cask & Grain’s menu is focused on local ingredients and simpler dishes with only a handful of ingredients. The menu, from chef and co-owner Paul Hajewski, will change multiple times throughout the year.

Rachel New American Cuisine has opened in the Riverside space that was, most recently, Breadbangers (those who have been around the restaurant scene for a while may remember it as Soigne). The restaurant is owned by Barry Fleischmann and features locally sourced ingredients as well as an emphasis on smoked ingredients.

After a long wait, Handlebar Café has opened in Fells Point. The restaurant calls itself a “bicycle-café” – it is a full-service restaurant and bicycle retail and repair shop. The menu runs to wood-fired pizza and burritos – early reports suggest the food is great – plus craft beer, wine, and cocktails.

Last Monday, Brass Tap, a craft beer-focused chain, opened its first Maryland location in the Fitzgerald apartment building in Mid-Town Belvedere. The restaurant has 60 draught lines, two casked beers and 118 beers in bottles and cans. More than half of the draught options are pulled from the region around Baltimore.

In Hampden, a new doughnut shop, Center Cut Donuts, opened yesterday in the former B. Doughnut space on Chestnut. The shop will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day but Monday. If you go, don’t miss the brown butter doughnuts. They’re terrific.

The owners of the popular food truck Gypsy Queen Café announced they will open a brick and mortar restaurant and bar, likely called The Gypsy’s Table, somewhere near Hampden. This is great news for locals who remember the owners’ pre-truck venture, Helen’s Garden in Canton. That spot, located on the Square, had fans from all over the city. 

Getting to Know Bourbon

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 14, Birroteca will host a bourbon-soaked session of “Saturday School.” The class theme is “best bourbons you’ve never heard of” – the focus is on six bourbons that fly under the radar.

The event is sold out, but it’s a part of a larger series called Mixology 101. Check out their additional classes; the next one is in March.

Trinacria’s Reboot

Trinacria Café – the Mount Vernon sit-down version of the venerable Italian market – is getting a reboot. Brooklyn baker turned Baltimore resident Matt Robicelli has taken over as Executive Chef and this Saturday, January 14, he’ll be showing off his new menu items. The focus will be on southern Italian cuisine and the chef promises a few surprises. 

Truffles & Wine at Grano Emporio

We’ve had a warm few days, but it’s going to get cold again over the weekend – perfect pasta weather. To indulge, head to Grano Emporio in Hampden on Sunday, January 15 for a truffle and Brunello di Montalcino tasting.

The truffles are from Norcia, a region in Umbria that was hit by one of the recent Italian earthquakes. Grano made the decision to import the truffles as a way to support the region economically. (Though they are also sure to be delicious.) 

Getting to Know Barefoot

Ina Garten – aka Barefoot Contessa – brings her simple-but-fabulous self to the Hippodrome on Tuesday, January 17. She’s on tour following the publication of her most recent book, Cooking for Jeffrey, which focuses on recipes she makes for her husband (a favorite among fans of her Food Network show).

Garten is an absolute charmer; this show is sure to be both entertaining and enlightening. As she’d say herself, “How bad can that be?” 

Raw Food Rave

If, after a night of Barefoot Contessa, you feel like you need to remind yourself that not every dish needs butter, head to Zia’s in Towson for a Raw Food Rave.

The party will feature great music and swag – including a gift card to Zia’s or Plantbar in Belvedere Square – and the event will showcase Plantbar’s raw food and juice product line.

Oysters at Artifact

This year’s Origins Speaker Series kicks off on January 19 at Artifact Coffee. The topic is a great one – oysters – and the talk will be a conversation between Spike Gjerde and Rona Kobell, a Chesapeake Bay Journal reporter who may be the region’s foremost expert on oysters and the oyster industry.

Planning Ahead

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

January 26: Whiskey Rocks at La Cuchara 

February 4: Heavy Seas Oyster Festival 

February 7: Irish History Dinner at Galway Bay 

Kit Pollard

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

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