Wit & Wisdom Chef Zack Mills will defend his title this year at “The Supper,” a fundraising event for St. Agnes Hospital. Tickets are on sale now.

There’s no such thing as mid-winter doldrums in the restaurant world – at least not this week. With openings, new hours and tons of events, Baltimore food lovers have plenty to keep them busy this week.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around town:

Openings & News

This week has been filled with good news on the restaurant opening front, with announcements from every corner of the city.

People with reason to be in the Johns Hopkins Hospital neighborhood have something new to cheer about, with the recent opening of Helmand Kabobi, a fast casual offshoot of the city’s famed Afghan spot, The Helmand.

The new restaurant is less formal than the original Charles Street spot, but it will include some of the same menu offerings,  including the unbelievably good pumpkin dish kaddo borwani.

If you’ve driven down Franklin Street anytime in the past several years (or decades), you’ve probably noticed the gorgeous Charles Fish & Sons storefront and wondered what happens inside that building. Last week, the main floor got a new occupant, when New America, a diner serving breakfast and lunch, opened in the space.

The new restaurant kept the old façade, which is good news. It’s one of the most striking buildings downtown. Early reports about the food and interior décor are just as positive.

Farmers market favorite blacksauce kitchen announced this week that it will open a Thursdays-only brick and mortar storefront at 401 West 29th Street. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For now, it’s an experiment, and you’ll still find the stand at its usual markets. But fans certainly hope it becomes a permanent fixture.

Bottega is back on weeknights! Fans of the tiny, amazing BYOB will be happy to hear that after last year’s hiatus and slow reentry to the restaurant world, the restaurant has reinstituted some weeknight hours. Starting this week, it will be open again on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Citron, in Quarry Lake, began lunch service for guests this week. The lunch menu will be available Tuesdays through Saturdays and includes sandwiches, salads and entrees.

Unfortunately, this week did bring some sad news, with the announcement that Bad Decisions, the bar that gained national renown for its bacon happy hour and long list of drinks, will close in February.

There’s also some news that’s neither sad nor happy, just news. Because of the construction of the Harbor Point Bridge, the intersection of Central Avenue and Lancaster Street in Harbor East is currently shut down. This affects Ouzo Bay, as it is right in front of the entrance. To accommodate diners, the restaurant has a valet set up on Lancaster, across form Gordon Biersch. 

Restaurant Weeks

Baltimore City’s Winter Restaurant Week winds down this weekend; it is on until January 22. However, the surrounding counties are picking up right where the city leaves off. Howard County’s week starts on January 23 and both Baltimore County and Harford County start their winter restaurant weeks today, January 20.

Get Your Supper Tickets

Tickets for the Saint Agnes Foundation fundraiser The Supper are on sale now! The event, now in its second year, will be held at Loyola Blakefield on Friday, April 21. The gist is this: two top local chefs will face off, cooking against one another in front of the crowd. The winner of that round will then cook against last year’s winner, Wit & Wisdom Chef Zack Mills.

The evening will sell out, so it’s best to grab tickets early. The evening includes the cook-off spectacle, which is pure entertainment, plus great food and a silent auction. If you’re especially into it, you might want to spring for judges’ tickets – eight attendees will have the opportunity to sit on the stage and judge the competition. 

Mead Making at MillStone

Ever wondered about mead? The crew at pretty Monkton spot MillStone Cellars, will demystify the process with a make-your-own-mead class on Saturday, January 21. The class will cover the different processes and fermentation details that go into making mead, a mead-making workshop, a barrel tasting of different MillStone meads and enough honey to make a 5-gallon batch of your own mead.

The event is BYOV, though – bring your own fermentation vessel. The MillStone crew suggests a 5-gallon brewing bucket or carboy outfitted with an airlock. 

Celebrate the Grape

This week offers multiple ways to get involved with wine.

On Saturday, superstar sommelier Julie Dalton’s Cellar Sessions class is back at Wit & Wisdom. The session will focus on blind tasting basics, walking the class through how to blind taste like a professional sommelier. It’s a fascinating session and provides an incredible amount of insight into the world of wine.

On Tuesday, January 24, Dine Downtown Partnership is pairing up with Bluegrass Tavern to host a Wine 101 class. The $20 class will cover the basics about choosing and pairing wine and includes tastes of sparkling, red and white wines along with food pairings. 

On Wednesday, head to Gnocco to celebrate the food and wines of the kingdom of Sardinia, which ruled over northwestern Italy, at the Kingdom of Sardegna wine dinner featuring the wines of Tenth Harvest.

The five-course menu and wine list will feature selections from both Sardinia and Piemonte, including dishes like braised lamb neck with fregula, juniper and artichoke.

There’s something for wine lovers on Thursday night, too. Maryland Wine is hosting its 5th annual Winter Wine Showcase at the B&O Railroad Museum that evening. The event will include over 40 wines, plus hors d’oeuvres and live jazz.

Starting Healthy at The Corner Pantry

Make any resolutions about cooking yourself or eating healthier in 2017? Whether you did or didn’t, Tuesday night’s cooking class at The Corner Pantry is a fun and educational way to spend an evening. The class will focus on healthy eating and how to make three great dishes. 

Great Scot!

On Wednesday, January 25, celebrate Robert Burns night with whiskey, courtesy of Baltimore Whiskey Company, and Scottish fair at Pen & Quill.

Robert Burns Suppers are an international phenomenon. Every year, on or around the poet’s birthday (January 25), restaurants all over raise glasses and share Scottish feasts in celebration of the life and works of Burns. 

Dining Out for Pups

On Thursday, January 26, Silver Queen Café will host a fundraiser for Baltimore Pooch Camp, donating 10% of checks to the organization. Before you go, be sure to download the flyer at the link; the restaurant needs that to make the donation happen.

Boozy Thursday

This Thursday also offers whiskey lovers something to cheer about.

At La Cuchara, the Whiskey Rocks Baltimore Tasting Event will feature tons of excellent whiskeys, bourbons and ryes, plus conversation with whiskey experts and local radio personalities. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Pathfinders for Autism.

Kids Cook with Ejji

On Friday, January 27, Ejji Ramen will team up with Vita in Belvedere Square for a kids’ cooking demo to help support TasteWise Kids, a non-profit that teaches kids about where food comes from.

The class, designed for kids age 5 and older, is free, but the team is asking attendees to consider making donations to TasteWise. During the class, kids will learn how to make veggie gyoza.

Space is limited, so be sure to register online to grab a seat. 

Tasty Takeaways

This year, a couple local favorites have launched new programs that make it easy to take home great food and treats.

Café Poupon, the downtown offshoot of beloved bakery Patisserie Poupon, has announced a new prepared meals service, Green City Kitchen. The meals are both healthy and convenient – they can be picked up at the café or delivered to some select buildings in the city.

And, if the café’s food is any indication, they are sure to taste fabulous.

Jinji, of Belvedere Square raw chocolate fame, has announced a program called Cacao Crossings. The program features boxes of chocolates inspired by the flavors and stories of specific travel regions, plus an account of the flavor development process. Treats plus tales! 

Planning Ahead

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

February 4: Heavy Seas Oyster Festival 

February 7: Irish History Dinner at Galway Bay 

February 23: Kentucky Nights Bourbon Tasting at the Mt. Washington Tavern, benefiting the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital 

Kit Pollard

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