Hot Plate: Sally O’s, Water Song Yunnan Kitchen and other spots open, restaurants celebrate seasonal ingredients, wine dinners and more

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Bluebird in Hampden has reopened as a burger, dog and boozy shake pop-up called “Until Conditions Improve.”

August just might be the best time for dining out in Maryland. From peaches to corn to tomatoes to locally-caught crab and tuna, restaurants are celebrating the bounty of the season. Though dining out continues to look different than it did in the past, local restaurants are making the most of the situation with pop-up outdoor spaces and special menus.

This week, there’s plenty of room for optimism, with the announcement of several new spots opening and fun events on the horizon. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

The usual disclaimer
Restaurants continue to take a variety of approaches to opening and operations; some have limited hours or menus, some require reservations, while others are not accepting them. In addition, restaurants may close, briefly, with little notice, if someone on the staff has been exposed to COVID.

Given this ongoing state of flux, it makes sense to check-in with restaurants before heading out, to make sure you’re aware of any new guidelines or hours. And as always, patience with the wait staff and kitchen goes a long way; working in a restaurant has never been more stressful, and gracious guests make dealing with uncertain circumstances easier.

Openings & Announcements
This week, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the local restaurant scene’s good news far outweighs its bad. New spots are popping up all over.

Sally O’s, the new restaurant from popular Baltimore chef (and “Top Chef” alum) Jesse Sandlin, opened in late July in Highlandtown. It looks terrific – and like a lot of fun.

A new Chinese restaurant focusing on food from Yunnan Province, Water Song Yunnan Kitchen, has opened on Cross St. The restaurant is already getting rave reviews from guests – and it’s doing something extra for four-legged friends. Instead of tossing the meat trimmed off beef short rib bones used for beef broth, the kitchen is turning those scraps into jerky that it offers (for free) for dogs.

Hungry Like the Wolfe, the new Red Star pop-up in Fells Point, is off and running and sounds fantastic.

Bluebird Cocktail Room has shifted gears, opening a new pop-up called “Until Conditions Improve.” The pop-up focuses on boozy shakes, burgers, and hot dogs and offers outdoor dining and takeout.

Thai Landing has temporarily moved into R. House for pickup of online orders. It has taken over the space formerly occupied by Hilo Poke & Sushi.

In Columbia, The Periodic Table has opened on Centre Park Drive. The restaurant has a fun outdoor space in addition to indoor seating and the global menu looks like a good one.

Looking for great pizza? The family behind the excellent Facebook group “WTF Is for Dinner?” has opened GG’s Pizza, a takeaway pizza company based on Catonsville. The pies, which include options like “The 50 East” featuring local crab and fresh tomatoes, sound terrific.

Potomac Pizza Grill, a family-owned restaurant with four locations in Maryland’s D.C. suburbs, has opened an outpost in the White Marsh area, at Greenleigh at Crossroads.

Keep an eye on Fuisine, in Canton: it should be opening for takeout and delivery any day now.

Al fresco opportunities
While indoor dining is once again an option in Baltimore City (as of 5 p.m. on Friday, August 7), many diners are still opting to eat outside when possible. As a result, local restaurants continue to up their games on the outdoor dining front, creating semi-permanent structures and beautifying their outdoor spaces.

At Nancy by SNAC, sidewalk tables are tented and pretty and some of the MICA-area restaurant’s artwork has migrated outside, creating an artsy vibe.

The Café Gia crew has erected a gorgeous trellis outside, giving its sidewalk tables an extra layer of charm – and an extra layer of protection from the elements.

Clavel’s newly covered outdoor space, which extends into the street next to the restaurant, offers lots of new socially distant seating under a cool covering.

DiPasquale’s big move
DiPasquale’s Marketplace, the Highlandtown institution that has been on Gough St. for over a century, is moving. The famous Italian market will take up residence in a larger space in Brewers Hill.

Saying goodbye to a legend
Sadly, Fernand Giles Marie Tersiguel, the patriarch of the family that runs the beloved Ellicott City restaurant Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant, passed away on July 24. He lived an impressive life and made his mark on countless lucky guests in the restaurant, including many schoolchildren who took field trips to the restaurant to learn about French food and culture.

Happy 8th to Union
Normally, Union Craft Brewing celebrates its summertime birthday with a big, fun bash. This year, that’s not an option for obvious reasons, but the brewery isn’t letting its big day go unnoticed. To honor its 8th birthday, Union is hosting 8 Years of Magic, a Facebook Live event, on Aug. 8.

Over the next month, it will release three new beers and an 8th-anniversary box including two each of the three new beers plus two of an old favorite also being rereleased, plus a special 8th-anniversary glass and more.

Guinness is two!
Union isn’t the only Baltimore brewery celebrating an anniversary this month: Guinness Open Gate Brewery turns two in August. To mark the occasion, Guinness is offering a special limited release of its Lemon Peppermint Stick Golden Ale; purchase a six-pack to receive an invitation to a private guided tasting of the beer (via Zoom) on Aug. 13.

Buy one, donate one
Sotto Sopra has created a new program designed to give back to the community. Starting Aug. 7, when you buy a meal from the Italian restaurant, they will deliver the same meal, free of charge, to anyone you choose, whether that is family, a friend, a homeless shelter or anyone else. The restaurant’s owners are hoping this “pay it forward” approach will help spread positivity and love.

Market action
Cross Street Market is busy these days. Not only is the farmer’s market bustling on Saturdays, the market itself, open daily, has announced the opening of Bullhead Pit Beef, a brick and mortar outpost of the popular food truck. Plus, construction has started on Watershed, a large indoor/outdoor seafood restaurant, and Atlas Fish Market.

Cross Street isn’t the only market that’s hopping these days. As of July 30, Lexington Market is open at 50% capacity from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (though there is no indoor seating at this time).

Summer Vegan Restaurant Week
This summer’s Vegan Restaurant Week stretches from Aug. 1 through Aug. 9. During this time, restaurants across the city are showcasing vegan dishes on their menus and pop-ups are emerging to highlight their own plant-based options.

Intro to foraging
Speaking of vegetables…on Saturday, Aug. 8 and Sunday, Aug. 9, Foraged Eatery is hosting a pair of “Intro to Foraging” classes. Mushrooms have been popping up all over, thanks to the recent rainstorms, so it should be a good weekend for the search.

Le Festival de la Tomate
COVID can’t keep Petit Louis from celebrating one of the best times of the year: tomato season. The bistro’s annual Festival de la Tomate is on, with a menu celebrating all things tomato.

Peach & Blackberry Festival
Weber’s Cider Mill Farm has been celebrating its annual Peach & Blackberry Festival with curbside pickups all month, and on Aug. 8 and 9, it will go live, taking place in person. There will be new guidelines to ensure safety, but fans of peach slushies and doughnuts will be happy to know that this year – the festival’s sixth – is still on.

Lobsterama at Gertrude’s
Gertrude’s annual ode to the lobster is back! Every Thursday in August, the BMA restaurant will serve lobster two ways: New England-style (steamed) and Maryland-style (stuffed with crab imperial). Either one is worth a trip to the restaurant.

Sip some wine
Wine tastings and dinners have long been an important part of local restaurant culture. While few in-person events were scheduled during the spring, this month, several places are opening up for fun, informative, and safely socially distant wine events.

On Aug. 12, Red Brick Station and Ando’s Market team up for a tasting event featuring Maryland wines. The evening includes three Maryland wines paired with three Maryland-oriented dishes – plus the possibility of additional surprise spirits tasting.

Elkridge Furnace Inn has introduced a new schedule of fun wine dinners, each with a different theme. On Aug. 13 and 15, the beautiful historic restaurant will host two French-themed dinners, including four courses of French food paired with wines from the old country.

Movie night at Ampersea
Ampersea is continuing its summer movie series with a screening of “Dirty Dancing” on Aug. 12. While guests watch the classic summer flick, they can enjoy specialty cocktails with names like “I Carried a Watermelon” and “The Lift.”

Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:
Sept. 12: Manor Hill Farm Fest 
Sept. 19: Baltimore Seafood Festival (new date!) 
Oct. 3: Trifecta Food Truck & Music Festival 

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