Tag: dining

Gestalt & Pepper: Mom’s Day Out


Guilford resident Beth Smith is one of those people who I constantly pester for restaurant recommendations. She is not easily beguiled by flashy decor or trendy menus, it’s always about the the food. I have never had a bad meal following her advice. Beth’s foodiness is evident in her kitchen too. As a mother to three girls she is always cooking something that is simple, well-executed and delicious. (And she’s my sister-in-law.)

Home cook assessment:  Do you consider Durkee Onions and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup legitimate ingredients or cheating?

Totally cheating . . . never, never, never.

Saturday night with the husband: Where do you book? What do you order?  

Petite Louis. I get a salad and make my husband order the frites. I eat most of them but it doesn’t count because I didn’t order them .

Where would you take fun friends down from New York?

Demi (basement level of Crush, in Belvedere Square). I like the idea of a lot of small plates because the appetizers are usually my favorite part of any meal.

How about for a celebratory dinner?

Wherever the new place is that I am dying to try.

Where is your go-to place with the kids?

Sushi Hana.

Any drive-ins, diners and dives that you hit?

My husband used to take the girls to breakfast at Paper Moon but there was always a very long wait, so they have switched to the New Wyman Park Restaurant (on 25th Street in Charles Village). Oh, and Joe Squared. Unbelievable pizza!

What new restaurant are you dying to try?

I am DYING to try Volt in Fredrick. It is the guy from “Top Chef” Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant. Unfortunately, it’s an impossible reservation.

Where do you grocery shop and why?

Whole Foods for quality and Eddie’s for convenience.

Is there a food item that you regularly go out of your way to buy?

Is it bad to say wine?

What Baltimore restaurant has the best vibe?

Woodberry Kitchen. I love that wood stack.

OK, we gotta do it: best crab cake?

Friendly Farms carry out in Upperco, no filler, great for dinner parties.

Anything on your wish list for the Baltimore food scene?

There is a restaurant in the Palisades area of D.C. called “Black Salt.” I would love to see it replicated in Baltimore. The front of the house is a scrupulously clean fish market and amazing restaurant in the back. For a town that is all about seafood we are lacking a great fish market.

Filming at Cafe Hon Starts this Week for TV’s Hell’s Kitchen


The Baltimore Sun reported last week that filming of the Fox show Hell’s Kitchen begins this week at Cafe Hon whose owner Denise Whiting was reviled earlier this year for her “ownership” of the term “Hon.” 

It’s a risky move for the Hampden eatery given that the show’s objective is to show the dysfunction of a restaurant and in one week try to bring the place back to life. Good luck with that.

On the show the volatile, expletive-happy star Gordon Ramsay not only changes the restaurant’s menu, he also changes its theme and presentation. So if he doesn’t like all that “Hon” stuff (or is swayed not to like it to by the guests) he could very well get rid of it for good.  Frankly, haven’t we all had enough of the “Hon” thing?  Maybe Ramsay will do Whiting, and Baltimore, a favor and ditch the tired mascot.

But if you want to be on TV, head to Cafe Hon this week.

Restaurant Week Hacks


If you’re hungry, you won’t be for long. Baltimore Restaurant Week kicks off today; it’s also time for the next (wildly popular) food truck gathering. Looking ahead, Baltimore Beer Week starts on October 6 — yes, for food lovers, there are quite a few reasons to get excited over the next couple of months. It all sounds great — hypothetically. Sometimes, though, things get just too crowded and confusing, and we end up skipping all these great deals and ruing it later. Some lessons we’ve learned/important info we’ve gleaned over the years:

  • Restaurant Week runs Friday, August 5 to Sunday, August 14. You probably know this by now, but just in case — all participating restaurants offer a three-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $35.11 per person ($20.11 for lunch). This doesn’t include drinks, tip, tax, etc. — which means that it’s a pretty good deal at fancy spots, and not so great at Baltimore’s many moderately-priced restaurants. Look out for special promotions to add value to the deal; for example, the Mt. Washington Tavern offers up a complimentary glass of house wine along with your dinner, and Cinghiale lets you add  wine pairings to your meal for $24.
  • Baltimore County’s restaurant week follows shortly thereafter, from August 12-26. Similar deal, except with variable pricing:  some lunches are as cheap as $10.11, and some dinners start at $25.11 (depending on the restaurant).
  • If booking a table stresses you out, don’t fear — the past few years, restaurant week has had a “surprise” extension at many local venues; this year, The Prime Rib is already calling August “Restaurant Month,” so you have a few extra weeks to take advantage of special prices. (No Saturdays, though.)
  • If the food trucks sound more appealing (to your tastebuds or your wallet), remember to get there early this time — lots of trucks sold out early last time. The time:  5pm (til whenever food runs out); the place: 901 S. Wolfe St.