Hot Plate: Gingerbread decorating at Roy’s and Das Bierhalle, Cookies & Cocktails in Harbor East, new restaurants and more

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Holiday events are in full swing this week, which means plenty of gingerbread, cookies and other treats.

Holiday events are in full swing and that means plenty to eat and drink around Baltimore. This week brings lots of fun, including gingerbread and cookies for the kids… and wine and cocktails for the grown-ups. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

Openings and announcements

This week brought a lot of restaurant news–some happy, some sad.

In the happy category, Noona’s Pizza, the new Midtown-Belvedere restaurant from Dooby’s owner Phil Han, opened this past Wednesday in the Fitzgerald apartment building.

Butchers Hill has a new spot for coffee, breakfast sandwiches and baked goods: Charmed Kitchen. It also opened last Wednesday.

Marketplace at Fells Point, which is in development on South Broadway, announced two new businesses this week: women’s boutique Mint & Major and Saffron Grill, a Middle Eastern restaurant that will likely open in January.

On the sad side, Donna’s Café, which has been a Cross Keys staple since its opening nearly two decades ago, announced this week that it will close its doors following dinner on Sunday. The restaurant’s owner and namesake, Donna Crivello, and her business partner Alan Hirsch will continue to operate their other local restaurant, Cosima.

And some news is both good and bad all at once. Wit & Wisdom in the Four Seasons Hotel will close on New Year’s Day. However, there is a silver lining: the space will soon house a new restaurant from Atlas Restaurant Group, the Baltimore company behind several Harbor East restaurants, including the other three restaurants in the Four Seasons: Loch Bar, Azumi and The Bygone.

New arrivals

From drinks to dessert, this week brings fun new options at local spots.
Mount Vernon’s Baby’s on Fire is partnering with Open Seas Coffee to create its own coffee blend. The new coffee will be available starting on Friday.

Red Star’s two locations–one in Fells Point and a newer spot in Charles Village–have introduced a new menu for the winter season. The restaurants have updated both their food and drinks menus and introduced a couple new specials, including Burger and a Brew on Mondays and a Tuesday neighborhood night with half-priced bottles of wine for locals at the Charles Village location.

Diamondback Brewing Company and Order & Chaos have collaborated on a limited edition beer, the Order & Chaos Coffee Stout. The stout will be officially released at a party on Saturday and will be available at the brewery and a handful of spots locally, including Max’s Taphouse.

Festival of Lights

Chanukah is in full swing, which means there’s plenty to celebrate–and eat.
On Saturday, The Charmery’s Towson location will host a Full Circle Doughnuts pop-up. The doughnut makers will have a couple special Chanukah treats on hand, like the 8 Crazy Nights, a glazed doughnut stuffed with vanilla ice cream, topped with raspberry sauce and toasted. Yum.

If you’re entertaining at home, there’s still (a little) time to order in for Chanukah. The Classic Catering People have a special menu for the holiday, including dishes like petite potato latkes and Provencal braised beef brisket.


On Saturday, Iron Rooster kicks off Breakfast with Santa with a visit from the big guy. The man in red will be at the Hunt Valley location from 9 a.m. to noon; reservations are required to guarantee a photo from a digital photographer on site.


On Saturday (and again next Saturday), families can build and decorate gingerbread houses at Roy’s. During the decorating session, the Harbor East restaurant will also have a special family-style menu.

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, Das Bierhalle in Parkville hosts Das Gingerbread Haus Night. The event includes a kid-friendly happy hour (4-7 p.m.), during which time kids can go crazy building their candy-coated creations. Thereafter, adults take over the fun with gingerbread house-building and drinks.


On Sunday, Union Square invites the community to visit for its 33rd annual Christmas Cookie Tour. Homes throughout the neighborhood are decorated for the holiday, as is the park, and residents will open their doors and share cookies with tour attendees.
It starts at noon; check out the neighborhood website for ticket information.

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, Harbor East gets in on the cookie action with Cookies & Cocktails. From 6 to 9 p.m., those who join the tour will receive a cookie at each shop in Harbor East, a Cookies & Cocktails ornament and free parking for the evening. Santa will be on hand for photos, and there will be music and festive cocktail bars. The event benefits Helping Up Mission Women’s & Children’s Program/Inspiring Hope Campaign.


On Tuesday, Avenue Kitchen & Bar teams up with It’s Just Dessert for Cake Night at the Hampden restaurant.

You’ve probably heard about paint night events, when people gather at a restaurant or bar to hang out and paint a picture to take home. Cake Night is similar, but instead of a canvas, there’s a cake. A decorator from It’s Just Desserts will offer instruction, and everyone will take home a beautiful cake they’ve decorated themselves.

Holiday on the Gunpowder Wine Trail

On Saturday and Sunday, local wine lovers can get their fill of Maryland wines and holiday spirit with Holiday on the Gunpowder Wine Trail, a fun, progressive event that will take you to a variety of regional wineries.

Tickets include winemaker-selected tastings and pairings, a bottle of wine from each participating winery, a crystal stemless wine glass and 10 percent off bottles.

Drinks with dinner

Pick your poison: this week, there are dinners featuring pairings of beer, wine and liquor.

Last week, Ryleigh’s Oyster Hunt Valley held a Distiller’s Dinner featuring Sagamore Spirit whiskies. This week, on Monday, the Federal Hill outpost of Ryleigh’s will host a similar event.

On Tuesday, Gunther & Co. hosts a winemaker dinner with California’s Rodney Strong. The five-course meal includes dishes like potato gnocchi with lardon, brown butter, sage, toasted pine nuts and mushroom essence paired with the winery’s 2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and the 2015 Upshot Red Blend.

Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld will also be at the restaurant to discuss the wines and enjoy the meal.

Wednesday, The Elephant partners with Reyka Vodka for a multi-course meal paired with Reyka cocktails. In addition to being a good way to sample food from The Elephant’s kitchen, the meal has a charitable component: a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank.

On Thursday, Dec. 13, chef Ryn Dorsey teams up with Oliver Brewing Co. for a five-course dinner paired with different Oliver beers. The evening starts with a brewery tour, followed by the dinner itself, which includes courses like a simple ceviche paired with Oliver’s Riding Easy.

Big news at Little Bird

Little Bird Coffee Bar and The Bluebird Cocktail Room have exciting news: their joint kitchen is now helmed by Woodberry Kitchen alumni Chance Jones and Bri White.

This week offers something specific to look forward to at Little Bird. On Thursday, the restaurant hosts Caputo Brothers Creamery for a six-course dinner, served family-style, featuring Caputo Brothers cheese and special drink pairings from Bluebird’s talented bar team.

Cooking the Feast of the Seven Fishes

If you’re considering preparing a Feast of the Seven Fishes meal for the holiday this year (or even if you’re not!), head to Cosima on Wednesday for a class focused on how to cook the traditional Italian Christmas Eve meal.

Taught by chef and owner Donna Crivella, the class will include instruction on how to prepare a fritto misto and Sicilian-style swordfish, among other dishes.

Planning Ahead

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

Jan. 1, 2019: Vintage Cava Social at La Cuchara 

Jan. 11-12, 2019: Krautfest at Gertrude’s 

Jan. 12, 2019: Oyster, Wine & Beer Festival 

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