Hot Plate: Supporting local restaurants during challenging times and other Baltimore restaurant news

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St. Patrick’s Day festivities will feel anything but typical this year – though local restaurants are working hard to continue to stay open.

While coronavirus concerns have led to school closures, events being cancelled and other cautionary measures, restaurants and bars are generally staying open–so far–and they need patrons now more than ever. It is definitely not business as usual out there.

Given the rapidly moving disease landscape, it makes sense to check with restaurants and other venues before heading out for specific events or even just to dine out. As we’ve all learned over the past few days, nothing is set in stone, and doing a little extra research is always helpful.

Restaurant actions
Many local restaurants have sent out emails or made social media posts outlining their upgraded cleaning policies and protocols related to sanitation.

These include things like a double-hand washing protocol at Orto, closing down the kids’ play area at Silver Queen Café, single-serve condiments at Blue Moon Café (and many other places) and extra sanitizer at entrances at Miss Shirley’s (among many other upgrades at those restaurants and others).

Social media is a good place to find information about how individual restaurants are addressing these issues.

Carryout, delivery and gift certificates
Even if dining in at a restaurant isn’t feasible for you right now, there are ways to support local businesses. Buy gift cards for use later in the year–some places, like Pierpoint in Fells Point, are offering deals (at Pierpoint when you buy a $100 gift certificate, you’ll get an extra $25).

Or order carryout or delivery (and tip big!). Even if your favorite local restaurant doesn’t usually offer carryout options, they may be doing so right now. For example, Aldo’s is now available via several delivery apps and Foraged Eatery has a new curbside pickup option.

Openings and Announcements
Even in the midst of coronavirus concern, some restaurant business is still trucking along.

The Verandah in Hampden reopens Friday, after a 9-month hiatus for renovations and a menu upgrade.

Koba, the new Korean spot in the old Taste/Shoo-Fly/Starlite Diner location in Belvedere Square, has opened.

At Das Bierhalle, starting March 16, and lasting until schools are back in session, kids younger than 12 eat free 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with an adult purchase of a sandwich or an entrée. One adult purchase gets two kids’ meals, dine in or carry out.

Earlier this week, The Charmery and The Food Market announced plans to open outposts in downtown Columbia’s Merriweather District. The Charmery is slated to open this summer with The Food Market a few months behind it.

Sadly, Shiso Tavern on Canton Square announced this week that it will close after service on Sunday. 

St. Patrick’s Day
This week would normally be an extremely busy time for Baltimore’s Irish pubs–places like Slainte, Mick O’Shea’s, James Joyce and Claddagh’s are typically packed during mid-March. This year, with the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and many other events, it will look a little different.

Many places will continue to have specials on both their food and drinks menus. This is true both for Irish pubs and other spots, like Boiler Room, which will have Irish fare with beers and whiskeys to match, and The Bluebird Cocktail Room & Pub, where Tuesday specials will include corned beef sandwiches and $4 Black Velvets or Guinness in the pub and a pair of special Jameson cocktails in the upstairs bar.

Other Events
In addition to St. Patrick’s festivities, several dinners and classes are still scheduled for later this week. Again, it makes sense to double-check they are still happening before heading out the door.

Saturday morning, Cosima is set to host a kids’ spaghetti-making class.

Conrad’s second annual Oyster Fest is scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Perry Hall.

On Thursday, Café Troia will host its monthly wine dinner. This month will focus on the wines of Greece, with food pairings that highlight the close-knit relationship between Italian and Greek foods.

Also on Thursday night, Towson Tavern hosts a multi-course Roaring ’20s wine dinner, featuring dishes inspired by the last century–think lamb chops with mint jelly and escargot–paired with an interesting selection of wines from all over the world.

For those who prefer beer over wine, Elkridge Furnace Inn has planned a five-course Guinness dinner for Thursday night, with courses matched with five different beers brewed at Guinness’ Dublin and Baltimore breweries.

Planning Ahead
Here are a few events to look forward to over the next few weeks:
March 22: Barbacoa Pop-Up with Larder and Clavel 
March 25: Wild Game and Wine Dinner at Manor Tavern 
April 7: Lamb Dinner at Bar Vasquez 

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  1. We had an early dinner at Woodberry Kitchen tonight. Diners can witness some of the steps they have taken including removing tables to create more distance between diners, frequently timed hand washing, wiping down tables and chairs between customers, individually served condiments, single use napkins, and lots of gloved hands. The food was wonderful, and the staff so appreciative of our visit. Go grab some cocktails, oysters, crab dip and enjoy with confidence in all of the care going into your experience.

    • I love hearing this – it was a beautiful night to go out to dinner and I hope many people did!

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