Topside is one of many local restaurants participating in Baltimore Summer Restaurant Week, starting Friday. Photo courtesy of Topside.
Topside is one of many local restaurants participating in Baltimore Summer Restaurant Week, starting Friday. Photo courtesy of Topside.

With summer in full swing, local restaurants are getting creative with their seasonal menus – and pulling out all the stops for Restaurant Week, which starts on Friday. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

Openings & announcements

Atlas Restaurant Group has announced another forthcoming opening. The company is partnering with Caves Valley Partners to open a new Chinese spot in the Village of Cross Keys in fall of 2024.

A new Greek spot, Estiatorio Plaka, has opened on Eastern Avenue in Greektown. It’s already getting plenty of love – and looks terrific.

Manners at Shirley’s

There are still a few spots left for both seatings of Miss Shirley’s Etiquette Brunch, scheduled for Saturday morning and afternoon.

The morning installment of the brunch is geared towards kids aged 7 to 10 while the later seating skews a bit older; it’s designed for kids from 11 to 15. Both sessions are run in conjunction with the International School of Protocol, which has been instructing Baltimore-area children (and adults) on the finer points of etiquette for many years.

Kids at True Chesapeake

Speaking of kids, True Chesapeake Oyster Co. has a new $5 kids menu available every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday (with the purchase of an accompanying adult meal). That’s a great deal for the little guys – and a fantastic excuse to go out to dinner.

Restaurant Week starts

The big news this week comes at the end: Baltimore City’s summer Restaurant Week starts next Friday.

As per usual, a huge variety of area restaurants are participating in the promotion, which includes brunch, lunch and dinner options at a range of price points, starting at $15.

There are tons of excellent options to choose from this week, including old favorites and relative newcomers. Some menus to watch include Topside, which will offer a four-course menu for $55 including options like seafood rice with shrimp, scallops, mussels and pimenton aioli; Charming Elephant, where you can get to know Laotian food for lunch or dinner; and Gertrude’s, where locally sourced ingredients pop up all over the menu, from a mint and heirloom watermelon gazpacho to the rockfish imperial.

New & intriguing

Foraged Eatery is celebrating one of the more unsung local fruits: wineberries. In honor of wineberry season – which is right now – the Station North restaurant has both wineberry hand pies and a wineberry cocktail on the menu.

La Cuchara’s newest offering isn’t just seasonal – it’s also something that you don’t see a lot of on Baltimore menus: a flammkuchen. That’s a German word that technically means “flame cake” and is similar to a pizza (though not exactly the same).

At La Cuchara, the dish is made with peaches and topped with bacon, scallions, corn, ricotta, rosemary and crème fraiche. Savory, sweet and definitely interesting.

At Clavel, the mocktail menu is full of creative takes, including the Pajaro Verde, a spicy-sweet combination of pineapple juice, coconut cream, black lemon pepper, celery and poblano. The drink might share some roots with piña coladas – but it’s a far cry from the poolside standard.

JBGB’s is going all in on parsley right now and making the most of having a wood-fired oven. One of its newest additions is a vegan braised cabbage dish with tomato sorghum ragu, mirepoix and parsley pesto.

Little Donna’s is thinking differently about soft crab pairings, matching the hyper-seasonal and hyper-local delicacy with cucumber salad and plum jam.

Planning for the future

Mark your calendars for:

July 23: Tacopalooza

Aug. 3: Lobsterama Kickoff at Gertrude’s

Sept. 29: Maryland Italian Festival

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