Hot Plate: Bluebird Cocktail Room Opens, The Charmery Turns Four, Restaurant Week Starts

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El Bufalo Tequila Bar + Kitchen will celebrate National Tequila Day on Monday, July 24.

Happy Artscape, Baltimore! (And happy hottest weekend of the year.) Baltimore’s food scene is offering plenty of reasons to venture outside of your air-conditioned house this week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

Announcements & News

Hampdenites and lovers of all things cocktail have been anticipating the opening of Bluebird Cocktail Room since it was announced this spring. The new bar has recently opened to great acclaim from those in the know. By all accounts, the spot is pretty, the people are charming, and the drinks are excellent.

Earlier this spring, Aggio brought on a new chef, Dan Metz, formerly of The Wine Market, Fork & Wrench and Salt Tavern. Metz has tinkered with Aggio’s menu; on it, you’ll find an exciting combination of traditional Italian dishes and modern preparations.

Local Francophiles will have something to cheer about later this year when Chef Ashish Alfred opens a second outpost of his Bethesda brasserie, Duck Duck Goose, in the old Bad Decisions Space.

There’s exciting news in Towson, too: The Bun Shop will open a new spot, its third, on West Chesapeake Avenue sometime in the future. The coffee and pastry shop’s two other locations, one in Mt. Vernon and one on Light Street in the Inner Harbor, have earned it a loyal following.

All About Ice Cream

July just might be the best time to enjoy a scoop or two of ice cream – and Baltimore has you covered on that front this weekend.

Tomorrow, July 22, The Charmery in Hampden celebrates its fourth birthday with the Greatest Game Show Extravaganza, a party including trivia, tons of prizes and a free baby scoop with each purchase. In honor of the event, The Charmery team has created eight new, game show-inspired flavors. No word just yet what “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” or “Wheel of Fortune” taste like…but given The Charmery’s track record, they’re sure to be great.

Other parts of the city have some ice cream news to celebrate this week, too. In Canton, Bmore Licks opens today on Eastern Avenue. Family-owned, with tons of options to choose from, the new shop looks adorable.

Later this summer, Roll: Ice Cream Social will join Bmore Licks in southeastern Baltimore. The Highlandtown shop will offer rolled ice cream, an innovative way to mix toppings into the main event.

Artscape Buzz

Artscape is, traditionally, on the hottest weekend of the year in Baltimore – and this year promises to live up to that hype. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to cool off and fuel up, both during and after the party.

Look for folks from The Elephant and The Local Oyster at Artscape – they have some special tricks up their sleeves.

And afterward, drop into Pen & Quill for a late night menu available until 1 a.m. and music from a trio of DJs.

Saturday Happenings

Artscape, of course, lasts all weekend, but that’s not the only event around town this Saturday.

Kick-off the day with a run to the Fells Point Farmers’ Market. Have you been yet this year? The market takes place every Saturday, starting at 7:30 a.m., on South Caroline Street. It’s a fun market, packed with great local vendors.

From noon to 4 p.m., the Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Port Covington will host an afternoon concert, complete with cocktails and food.

Or head to Canton tomorrow for a massive oyster party hosted by Lee’s Pint & Shell. The restaurant is celebrating the shucking of its 100,000 oyster with a tent party featuring live music and a DJ, food stands, and a beer truck and crush and bomb bars. The $5 entry donation will benefit the Oyster Recovery Foundation.


Monday, July 24 is National Tequila Day. At El Bufalo in Canton, the celebration will be on – as is appropriate for a tequila bar! The Canton Square spot will have drink specials, trivia, live music, and giveaways. It’s a great excuse to try one of the bar’s 70 different tequilas or a creative margarita.

Seafood at Birroteca

Birroteca’s Tuesday night Italian seafood dinner gets points for truth in advertising: it’s called “Hot Time Summer in the City.” The evening on the patio will feature a cocktail hour (sangria!) and family-style Italian seafood meal served on the patio. The beer-centric restaurant will offer Evolution Craft Beers to pair with the dinner, but wines – whites and roses hailing from the Amalfi Coast – will be the stars of the show.

Busy Thursday

If you’re thinking of going out one night this week, make it Thursday – there’s a terrific lineup of classes, tastings, and dinners taking all over the city and county.

On Thursday night, The Milton Inn will host a champagne tasting featuring bottles from two of the industry’s most well-known and respected names: Moet Chandon and Veuve Cliquot. The event, which is free for wine club members and $15 for others, will also include light hors d’oeuvres.

If beer is more your speed, head to Union Craft Brewing on Thursday for the Smoking Bowls Cookout. Jon Carroll, locally famous for his Smoking Bowls pop-up ramen shop, will be on hand at the brewery, which is breaking tradition and offering tableside service by reservation. You can still walk in and walk up to the pop-up without a reservation, but if you’d like, reserve a seat and receive family-style service with beer pairings throughout the evening.

The same night, Chef John Shields of Gertrude’s will join forces with Chef Moreno Espinoza of Wildfire Restaurant in northern Virginia for a crab and beer themed dinner.

The evening includes four crabby courses, each paired with a beer from Evolution Craft Brew. The dishes are classics and sound terrific – who can say no to crab spaghetti with summer vegetables and lobster sauce or a crab-crusted, bacon-wrapped filet?

Also on Thursday evening, Lyon Distilling is dropping into the Maryland Science Center to host Rum on the Roof, a tasting and presentation on rum. The evening will include snacks and tastings – of course – with a side of knowledge, including information about the rum-making process and the underlying science of the spirit.

New Drinks at Favorite Haunts

Anytime you drop into the Mt. Washington Tavern this month you can check out their July cocktail, the Slamhattan, made with KO Distilling’s Bare Knuckle Whiskey. They’re also running a KO giveaway – like the Tavern on Instagram and Facebook for details and to win.

Clavel had a new delivery this week: mezcals from the Vino de Mezcal series, a collection of small batch spirits that show off the terroir of Mexico. Clavel’s purchase of the bottles helped fund Fundacion Agaves Silvestres, an organization that supports agave reforestation.

Ouzo Bay has debuted seven new seasonal cocktails, with cheeky Greek names like Adonis and Heracles’ Might.

Restaurant Week Starts Next Friday

If you haven’t made your plans for Baltimore City’s summer Restaurant Week, now’s the time. The event starts next Friday, July 28 and runs through August 6. Two-course brunch and lunch offerings range from $12 to $20, and three-course dinners are between $20 and $35.

There are dozens of excellent restaurants on the list this year and lots of good deals to be had.

Start thinking ahead about dining in the county, too: Baltimore County Restaurant Week starts August 4!

Get Ready for the Trifecta Food Festival

Mark your calendars – next Saturday, July 29, the Trifecta Food Truck Festival will roll into the Maryland State Fairgrounds. The festival will feature over 40 local food trucks, craft beer tends, live bands, tons of kid-friendly activities and even a pie-eating contest.

Planning Ahead

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

August 8: Rose class at Avenue Kitchen & Bar 

August 26: Vegan Soulfest

September 15: Picnic in the Park 

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