Hot Plate: Loch Bar Opens, Book Thing Fundraiser, Gin & Tonic Day

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Oysters and beer at Loch Bar
Oysters and beer at Loch Bar

The O’s are up 3-0 and it might snow this weekend, but it’ll be nearly 70 on Monday. It’s definitely April.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate any of those things – baseball, snow, warm weather ahead – or anything else this week, local restaurants have you covered. We’ve got several new spots just opening, fundraisers, tastings and many, many opportunities to try new cocktails.

Here’s a glimpse of what to expect around town this week:

New Kids on the Block

Not only did Blaze Pizza open this week on Pratt Street, Harbor East also welcomed a new restaurant: Loch Bar.

Loch Bar is part of Atlas Restaurant Group, which also owns Ouzo Bay and Azumi. The new spot, located in the Four Seasons, is all about oysters, whiskey, cocktails and beer. Like the other Atlas restaurants, it’s gorgeous inside. Also like its sister spots, it’s sure to be a huge hit in Harbor East.

We also got word this week that Spike Gjerde’s Foodshed restaurant group will partner with Ivy Bookshop on a new Charles Village bookstore café. Fans of the Louie’s Bookstore Café will find a lot to cheer about with this news; the late, much-loved spot is being cited as an inspiration for the new spot, which is slated to open sometime around August.

Finally, though Aromes isn’t a brand new restaurant, the petite Hampden spot does have a new a la carte menu. The ever-changing six-course pre-fixe menu is still available, but diners who don’t want to go all-in for six courses now have the option of ordering individual appetizers, main courses or desserts.

Book Thing Fundraiser

Speaking of books, on April 11, Remington mezcaleria Clavel will host a benefit for The Book Thing, the free bookshop institution that succumbed to a fire on March 2.

The fundraiser will feature drinks from Clavel and W.C. Harlan and the bartending crew will include Lane Harlan, the owner of both, and superstar Baltimore mixologist Doug Atwell, of Rye. Don’t miss the two literary-themed cocktails – 50 percent of those drinks’ proceeds will be donated to The Book Thing’s reconstruction.

 Save a Seat 

All month long, local restaurants will be raising money for Maryland Food Bank, via the Save a Seat at Your Table campaign. At Woodberry Kitchen, 100% of proceeds from a special “Save a Seat” dish (featuring eggs from Civic Works Little Gunpowder Farm) and Blue Pit BBQ in Hampden has created the Nine Lives Cocktail; $3 of every $6 cocktail sold is donated directly to the Food Bank.

G&T Day

Tomorrow, April 9, is Gin & Tonic Day – a fun reminder that Spring really is here. And with it, limes!

Kooper’s Tavern in Fells Point, along with sister restaurants Slainte and Kooper’s in Jacksonville are celebrating the holiday (and it is a holiday) with Baltimore Whiskey Company. If you haven’t had their Shot Tower Gin yet, try it. It’s fantastic.

BWC will host tastings at each of the three restaurants, including the gin, their Charles Street Apple Brandy and 1904 Ginger Apple Liqueur.

Music with a Meal

Sunday, April 10 is Opera Night at Sotto Sopra, featuring live opera music alongside a five-course meal. Sotto Sopra’s space and food are both lovely; the addition of music takes the dining experience to an even higher level.

Bottoms Up!

Baltimore Cocktail Week starts Sunday and lasts all week long, with classes and events at local restaurants and bars.

Though the week is mostly geared toward the hospitality industry, even if you don’t work behind the bar, there’s plenty to love about the week. Participating bars and restaurants – and there are 16 of them – will offer signature cocktail. One dollar of the purchase of each signature cocktail will go to a charitable organization chosen by the participants. The bar with the highest donation will have its total matched by the Baltimore Cocktail Week organization.

Q&A with the Experts

Have a burning question about food or wine? On Sunday, April 10 at noon, Tony Foreman and Chef Cindy Wolf, the duo behind several excellent Baltimore restaurants, including Charleston, Pazo, Cinghiale and Petit Louis, will be answering questions live on WYPR 88.1.

Feel free to call into the station (410-662-8780) or email Foreman and Wolf ahead of them([email protected]) with any and all food queries.

Tapped Out

Colette, the new French spot in Station North, has an exciting addition behind the bar: cocktails on tap. Earlier this week, the restaurant debuted several kegged cocktails, including a Manhattan, a Negroni, a Vieux Carre, a Vesper, a Brown Derby and a Martinez. All the charm of a classic cocktail…with none of the long wait for the bartender to build and shake.

Ready for the Weekend

Next weekend is a huge one – it might take you all week just to decide which spots to hit.

Some of the biggest news is the return of The Emporiyum. The major food market happens downtown next weekend, April 16 and 17, and will feature over 75 food vendors.

Or, if oysters are more your thing, head up into the country, to Manor Tavern’s Oyster Festival, which takes place on Sunday

Other events next weekend include the wine and horse racing festival Decanter, a ladies’ champagne brunch at The Chausseur, Cellar Sessions at Wit & Wisdom and Fiber, Food & Fun – a fun evening for knitters who also love pizza and beer – at Birroteca.

All that in one weekend!

Planning Ahead

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

April 18: La Cuchara’s First Birthday Party 

April 22: The Gathering’s season kicks off 

April 24: Flavio Sala Guitar and Dinner at Alma Cocina Latina

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