Boy do we feel late to this party. For years we’ve been lamenting Baltimore’s less-than-overwhelming selection of brunch options. Yes, there are the old standbys: Miss Shirley’s, and, um, Miss Shirley’s. But in all seriousness, even with the sudden boom of new restaurants that have opened in the last couple years (including Johnny’s Downstairs, which we have to give major props to for their scrumptious comfort food brunches), a weekend morning just doesn’t offer the range of plate-filling, sweet and savory options that we’re looking for. So when we were finally made deliciously aware of Cunningham’s Sunday brunches, we were happy to add them to our list of go-tos.
This is how you know that fall is almost here. The Creative Alliance has released this year’s amazing line-up of Art to Dine For events. And we’re helping spread the word nice and early so you can get first dibs at tickets for some of the most unique and fun cultural offerings coming our way. If you’re not familiar with Art to Dine For, it’s the annual series hosted by the Creative Alliance, but taking place at homes and venues across the city and well beyond. Each event in the series features an incredible combination of arts & culture and epicurean delights in an unusual setting. Each event is totally different from the last, so you can select based on your tastes—both gustatory and aesthetic.
It’s restaurant week again. Yesssssssss. That means a whole ten days of excuses to try places we’ve never been and to do it up at our usual haunts. And thankfully, in Restaurant Week world, a week is ten days long— and we’re definitely not complaining. There are so, so, so many participating restaurants this year; and they’re literally all over the map. So we recommend getting a guide now and planning well for your ten days of eating. Tip: if you follow Restaurant Week on Facebook, you’ll be notified when new restaurants post their menus. Just saying.
We know you love the Charm City Cook Amy Langrehr. We do too, and so we’ve asked her to post restaurant and food news everyday for all of us in the Baltimore Fishbowl! Look for her posts in the afternoon…just when you start thinking about what to do for dinner.
This week, the successful pop-up dinner concept, Dinner Lab, announced that it was expanding into nine new cities – and BALTIMORE is on the list!
Dinner Lab is a social dining experiment that unites undiscovered chefs with adventuresome diners who are looking for something different from the conventional restaurant experience.
The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Hekemian & Co., the development company that owns the Hampden/Roland Park (North Hampden? Lower Roland Park? HamRol?) shopping center The Rotunda, has signed a lease to open CineBistro, a company that offers in-theater dining and a full bar, all to be consumed in a “superior digital cinema” from the comfort of an “ultra-luxurious” high-back leather rocking chair.
A cursory look at the Valley Inn’s crowded parking lot reveals what many have eagerly anticipated since it changed ownership two years ago: The Valley Inn has re-opened its doors. Step inside and new and old customers alike will revel in the ways in which new owner, Ted Bauer, has melded the property’s rich past with its vibrant future.
I do love this city, but sometimes, I don’t mind leaving for the night.
Especially for chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s kick-ass ramen at Toki Underground. I am – like many in Charm City – new to somewhat new to ramen. But after the beauty that was Toki-fact at Artifact Coffee back in January (I happily stood in lines around the place…) I had to see the place that had inspired Spike to partner up on that delicious pop-up.
Almost Valentine’s Day, yeah, yeah, I know. I got nothin’. While couples are gazing into each other’s eyes over champagne and oysters, some of us will be ordering from the singles menu. And so, a love letter to food, which I adore and suffer from and play head games with as I would any bad boyfriend. In fact I just gained weight while visiting Africa, an accomplishment few can claim. Now back in the bosom of Baltimore I offer a Valentine to favorites from local eateries, which I seem to love as much for what they remind me of as what they are.
1. Huevos rancheros, Atwater’s
Of all influences I absorbed during the 20 years I lived in Austin, Texas, none has been more abiding than my passion for Mexican breakfast dishes, and I am always on the lookout for reasonable facsimiles. When my friend Ken was recovering from surgery in a rehab up north near the Beltway, I used to stop at the Falls Road location of Atwater’s to bring him a latte on the way to visit and thus came to try the non-traditional version of huevos rancheros served there. Three, count ’em three, fried eggs served on corn tortillas with a thick, mild red chile sauce and queso blanco. No refried beans, no potatoes, no jalapenos, no ranchero sauce for that matter, but satisfying in its own way. Or maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age.
2. Cheese steak, The Real Thing, One World
Cheese steak was the signature food of my first husband Tony, born and raised in Philly. He used to go to the Italian market on South 9th Street with his grandma, and if he was good they would stop afterwards for a steak from Pat’s King of Steaks. Indoctrinated early in our relationship into this wonder of the junk-food world, I said farewell to Tony by ordering 100 cheese steaks from a sub shop in Austin for his memorial service in 1994. As you may know, Pat’s in South Philly is across the street from another cheese steak stand called Geno’s, and each has its own passionate fan club. The guy who owns The Real Thing on York Road in Towson used to cook at Geno’s, but we try not to hold that against him. And call me crazy but my daughter Jane and I like the vegetarian version at One World.
3. Tart frozen yogurt, TCBY Belvedere Square, Evergreen Cafe in warmer months
Probably due to my mother’s overzealous policing of my youthful eating habits, I have a kind of PTSD that prevents me from enjoying desserts. Fortunately frozen yogurt was invented after I escaped my mother’s surveillance. My first bite was a life-changing encounter with creamy cold sweetness for me, spawning an immediate fantasy of opening my own fro-yo store. Early frozen yogurt tasted like real yogurt, but soon a bland replica of soft ice cream took over. Only in the past few years has yogurty frozen yogurt come back. R.I.P. Mr. Yogato of Fells Point, a kooky, endearing spot where I first encountered the new “classic tart” flavor. Fortunately it has now caught on widely.
Sorry it’s taken a couple of months to shout the good news about the Nickel Taphouse. Maybe it’s just that we’re still in honeymoon-land with owner Robin Haas’ other local gem—Birroteca. Or it could be that if we’re going to be hanging out in Mt. Washington, you’re going to have a hard time dragging us away from the Tavern’s ample, tried-and-true hospitality. But even a creature of habit can recognize a good new thing when it comes along. Particularly in winter, when hearty comfort food is in high demand, a place that knows how to serve it up right (that is, gorgeously, and with admirable delicacy) is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.