Hot Plate: New Brunch Options, Whiskey in Towson & Oysters Everywhere

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Ouzo Bay brunch starts October 17
Ouzo Bay brunch starts October 17

Buckle up, Baltimore. This week is a busy one. There’s a festival in Fells Point, another one in Little Italy, and tons of food and beverage-related events in every corner of the region.

Get Ready for Brunch

This fall, restaurants all over the region will kick off brunch service, giving people who love mimosas and bloodies more reason than ever to get out and about.

La Food Marketa, Chef Chad Gauss’s new south of the border-inspired venture at Quarry Lake, is now open for brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Don’t worry, margaritas can be breakfast drinks, too. (And if you like spicy and smoky drinks, don’t miss the spicy, grilled pineapple margarita. It’s terrific.)

The team behind Canton and Annapolis favorite Iron Rooster announced this week that it will open a third location, this one in Hunt Valley Towne Center. Homemade pop tarts for everyone! 

Starting on October 17, Ouzo Bay will be open for lunch, Monday through Friday, and for Saturday and Sunday brunch. The menu will remain Greek, but will include lighter lunch and standard brunch fare.

 Ch-ch-changes

There’s a new face in the kitchen at Towson Tavern. Former chef Jacob Nelson decamped for a new venture in Bel Air and former Parts & Labor sous chef Josh Vecchiolla has taken his place. Chef Vecchiolla started last week and he is already tweaking the restaurant’s menu, adding a few additional meat-centric dishes. Over the next month, Towson Tavern guests can expect to see even more changes to the lineup.

As of this week, Bottega will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. Each night, the restaurant is open for dinner from 5 pm to 11 pm. During the week, the space is available for private parties and events.

Special Menus

This week, OpenTable announced a pilot program here in Baltimore. Participating restaurants will now offer special menus and pairings available only to diners making reservations via OpenTable. Already, tons of great Baltimore restaurants are participating, with deals like a $35 three-course theater menu at Cosima and a $25 crab cake and beer deal at The Nickel Taphouse. 

Seasonal Shifts

With the weather finally changing, restaurants are updating their menus, too, shifting from summery produce to heartier fall dishes.

Silver Queen Café in Hamilton has a new lineup of dishes. While some old favorites, like the disco duck fries, remain on the menu, new treats like stuffed delicata squash show off seasonal ingredients.

Coq au Vin is back as Petit Louis’s Thursday plat du jour. The rustic chicken dish is hearty and warm – perfect for chilly weather.

 Whiskey Time

Food preferences aren’t the only thing that shift as the weather gets cooler. Autumn is also the perfect time to start thinking about smoky, warm whiskey drinks.

On Saturday, October 1, WTMD invites you to “Meet Your Maker” at Olympic Place in Towson. The event, which is a fundraiser for the station, features nine Maryland-based distillers and more than 45 different spirits. In addition to whiskey, the distillers will be pouring rye, gin and vodka. And, of course, there will be live music!

Thursday night’s Women Who Whiskey event at Sagamore Farm is, sadly, sold out. But the new group will be hosting more events in the future, so if you fall in that category, check them out.

Artsy in Little Italy

Little Italy is most known for its food, but this weekend, the city neighborhood celebrates a different type of cultural expression, as the Madonnari Arts Festival returns for its second year. The festival celebrates the chalk art of 50 artists, who are busy decorating the streets of Little Italy with their work. Don’t worry – the streets have been tented and the event takes place rain or shine.

The festival provides the perfect excuse to drop into one of your old favorite Little Italy haunts – or to try someplace new. Consider reservations, though. It’s sure to be busy. 

Seafood Feasting

October 1, Victoria Gastro Pub celebrates shellfish with a Crab Social featuring all you can eat crabs, Manor Hill beers and everyone’s favorite sides, corn and hush puppies.

On October 7, the Aquarium goes “charm to table” with a multi-course seafood-centric dinner featuring small plates from several area chefs who are well-known for their dedication to sustainable seafood, including Spike Gjerde from Woodberry Kitchen, Chad Wells of Victoria Restaurant Group and Zach Dick of Chesapeake & Main in Rehoboth. 

Oyster Season

Thanks to the miracles of modern refrigeration and advancements in oyster breeding, oysters are a year-round treat these days. But somehow, they still taste best during the “R” months – and local restaurants know that.

Wit & Wisdom has kicked off an oyster happy hour, every day from 6 pm to 7 pm, at The Kitchen Table. Oysters are only $1 and their classic pairing – sparkling wine – is available for $5 per glass. 

Speaking of oysters + bubbles, Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill kicks off its Oyster Festival weekend on Thursday, October 6, with the Moet Oyster Ball. The party features over a dozen types of oyster and other seafood fare, craft cocktails, beer and wine and – of course – Moet.

On Friday, The Local Oyster celebrates its first anniversary in Mt. Vernon Marketplace with a party featuring live music from The Glenmont Popes, drinks from Pabst and Jim Beam and – of course – oysters from True Chesapeake. 

Wine Time

On Tuesday, October 4, Wine Market Bistro will host its Fall Wined Up! event. The party includes over 25 wines to taste plus passed appetizers like mac and cheese croquettes and tuna tartare with triple citrus ponzu.

Manor Tavern’s Fall Wine Dinner also takes place on October 4. The dinner will feature the wines of Gloria Ferrer Vineyards and winemaker Bob Iancosta.

On Thursday, October 6, head to the Gramercy Mansion for Chef’s Expression’s Harvest Wine Supper. The meal includes passed hors d’oeuvres plus a five-course seated dinner with wine pairings from France, Spain, Italy and the U.S. West Coast. Proceeds benefit BARCS animal shelter.

Beer Time

October is a big month in beer!

On Wednesday, October 5, Victoria Gastro Pub will host one of its last tasting dinners of the year. The five course meal will be paired with beers from Oskar Blues Brewery. Courses include a variety of Asian-influenced dishes, from shrimp ramen to kung pow pork cheek.

On Thursday, October 6, one of Baltimore’s great modern restaurant institutions, The Brewer’s Art, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a party at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Brewer’s Art will pour 20 of its own beers – plus, they have invited a bunch of friends from within the industry to share the love, resulting in a “guest beer list” that is a Who’s Who of the Maryland brewing industry. There will be food from Brewer’s Art, Blacksauce Kitchen, Ekiben and Choptank Sweets Oyster Company.

Baltimore Beer Week kicks off on Friday, October 7, with events at bars and restaurants all over the region. Look for specials and events all over the city, starting Friday.

One way to celebrate Baltimore Beer Week is with a tour from City Brew Tours, a beer-centric tour and tasting organization that has just launched a Baltimore operation. Tours include stops at 3 or 4 breweries, a beer pairing lunch or dinner and tastes of up to 15 different craft beers.

On October 7, head to the Zion Church of Baltimore City, where Baltibrew will host its 10th annual Chilibrew. The event is a combination chili and homebrew competition and will include 60 competitors. That’s a lot of chili – and a lot of beer!

Coffee Club

With all the beer and wine-related events on the calendar, it’s likely that we’ll need a little coffee, too. The Baltimore Coffee Alliance, a local barista organization, is kicking off a season full of events with a party at Artifact Coffee.

The event will include food from Artifact, a latte art throwdown and, in case coffee isn’t your thing, beer from Union Craft.

Cultural Exploration

On October 7, the American Visionary Arts Museum will host a preview party for its newest exhibit: Yummm! The History, Fantasy and Future of Food. The party includes music, drinks and light hors d’oeuvres, plus a first look at the exhibit, which sounds fascinating.

October is National Hispanic Heritage Month and the Hispano-Latino Alliance of McDaniel College is celebrating with an event called Taste of Latin America. The event will focus on the culture, music, traditions and food of Latin American countries.

Planning Ahead

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

October 8: Ryleigh’s 10th annual Oysterfest

October 16: Bangkok Beer Dinner at Ten Ten

November 5: Vino in Vogue at Harbor East



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