Hot Plate: Winter Restaurant Week, Krautfest at Gertrude’s, Mera’s Kitchen Collective & Cajou at LB Tavern and more

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Mera’s Kitchen Collective and non-dairy ice cream maker Cajou are teaming up for a sweet pop-up at LB Tavern on Thursday.

With Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week in full swing and several fun events on the horizon, there are plenty of reasons to bundle up and head out to dinner (or lunch or brunch) this week.

Openings and announcements

The new year is a time for changes, including on the menu. Both Silver Queen Café and Lee’s Pint & Shell have recently refreshed their menus, so check out what’s new–like Bloody Mary mussels at Silver Queen and smoked salmon with horseradish cream, charred asparagus and pickled shallots on rye toast points at Lee’s.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House head brewer Hollie Stephenson has been named Beer Person of the Year by Imbibe magazine. Congratulations to Hollie!

Nacho Mama’s in Canton celebrated its 25th anniversary on Jan. 8. Happy anniversary to a place that’s been an important part of the community for decades–and not just because Baltimore can’t resist a hubcap margarita.

AJ’s Deli celebrates its grand opening in Mt. Vernon Marketplace on Friday. Stop by for great deals on food and drinks.

Sajhoma Restaurant on Fleet St. has expanded its breakfast hours and offerings.

The Tasting Bar at Clavel is closed during January, while the bar director travels through Mexico to deepen his knowledge of the country and of mezcal. The restaurant is currently taking reservations (for the tasting bar only) for the month of February.

The Local Fry announced last week that its original location in Federal Hill has closed. That’s a loss for the Cross Street area, but don’t fear: the restaurant’s excellent wings and fries are still available at its newer location, which opened last summer in the Rotunda.

Restaurant Weeks

Baltimore City’s Restaurant Week starts Friday and runs all week long. The event, which includes two-course lunch and brunches ($12-20) and three-course dinners ($20-35), has tons of participants from all over the city. It’s an excellent way to get to know a new place, revisit old favorites and explore Baltimore.

Dishes you’ll find on local menus include lamb and okra stew at Ida B’s Table, braised Kurabuto pork belly with tamarind glaze and pumpkin puree at The Brewer’s Art and Korean chicken-fried steak with kimchi collard greens and soy-garlic mashed potatoes at Sobo Café. Check the website for all the participating restaurants and their menus.

The city’s event lasts through Jan. 20, but don’t fear, as Winter Restaurant Week season is just getting started. On Friday, Jan. 18, Baltimore County Restaurant Week begins, lasting through Feb. 2.

Doing good while tasting good

Wild Kombucha has an excellent new partnership in the works and it’s one that effectively represents the company’s local focus. Starting the first of this year, 1 percent of proceeds from each bottle of Wild Kombucha is being be donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Urban Oyster is also helping the community this week, as the company collects gloves, hats, scarves, toiletries and other donations to distribute to the homeless. Donations can be dropped at their pop-up stall at R. House. They’ll be distributed on the morning of Jan. 19, which is also the National Day of Service.

The Local Oyster Stout online

Starting on Monday, fans of oysters, beer and the Chesapeake Bay, or all three, are in for a treat, when the locally made short film “The Local Oyster Stout” has its online premiere.

The movie is about the collaborative effort between The Local Oyster, True Chesapeake Oyster Company and Waverly Brewing Company to make the Local Oyster Stout. It also includes a history of oyster stouts.

To watch the movie, which premiers at 9 p.m. Monday, click here.

Gertrude’s Krautfest

Gertrude’s’ annual Krautfest is this Friday and Saturday. The party, which is a big one, features lots of kraut, plus several types of sausage locally made at Binkert’s and Ostrowski’s, and other Eastern European treats like sour beef and buttered noodles.

Italian dinner at Aldo’s

The Wine and Food Society of Baltimore, a private organization, will join at Aldo’s in Little Italy on Monday evening for a dinner of game meats, including wild boar and stuffed pheasant, paired with wines from southern Italy.

Though the organization is a private one, if the meal sounds like a can’t-miss event, you may still have a chance to go. You’ll just need to join The Wine and Food Society first.

Sweet stuff at LB Tavern

On Thursday, Jan. 16, Mera’s Kitchen Collective will join forces with Cajou Cream for a very sweet dessert, drinks and ice cream pop-up at LB Tavern in the Lord Baltimore Hotel.

The event will showcase desserts from Sudan, Egypt and the Caribbean and dairy-free ice cream, made with nut milks, by Cajou, a company that is new to Baltimore. The owners have only been in town for a few months.

Get to know The Winslow

Also on Thursday, a new South Baltimore event venue, The Winslow, will open its doors for an event designed to show off its historic industrial space. The Winslow, which is partnering with Linwoods for the event, is a sister property to the Mt. Washington Mill Dye House.

Old Line Spirits at Gnocchetto

Also on Thursday evening, Old Line Spirits will pop up at Gnocchetto (the restaurant formerly known as Gnocco) for a happy hour featuring a special cocktail list made with the distillery’s products.

Planning Ahead

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

January 24: RAR & Union Beer Dinner at Don’t Know Tavern 

January 25: Baltimore Free Farm Fancy Dinner 

January 29: St. Vincent Festival at Old Westminster Winery

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