Hollywood style faux-French hunting lodge, “Villa Vista,” on 4.29 acres, with a separate buildable lot of 1.5 acres. Swimming pool, lit tennis court, stable, jacuzzi, 3+ car garage, bomb shelter and guest house. Six bedrooms, six full baths on two stories: $1,495,000 (Additional lot: $295,000)
What: Lovely old stucco mansion, with a delightful aspect and interesting history, in dire need of cosmetic intervention. Villa Vista was built by a Baltimore stockbroker in 1929 — not an optimal year, but nevertheless, no expense was spared in its construction, and for many years it was the setting for Gatsbyesque parties and minor scandals. At the top of a long sweeping drive, dramatically poised on its hilltop setting, the house overlooks acres of trees and lawn and wraps around a swimming pool that looks like a setting for a 1930’s movie, with fountains and gardens, terraces and views. Four fireplaces. Interiors are spacious and sunny, grand but not formal, all with great flow – and designed for entertaining. Now inarguably in decline, the house needs an infusion of energy and cash, half a million at a guess, to bring it back to speed. No A/C. Heat is good and roof is fine, but everything, everything, else needs work.
Forget the Tiger Mom phenomenon. All over the internet now is Pamela Druckerman’s new book, Bringing Up Bebe, which asserts that French parents do a better job of raising children than their American counterparts.
Druckerman is an American who lives in Paris with her British husband and three children — in the book, she regales readers with examples of her own American “hyper-parenting” and asks why we Americans seem to be enslaved to our kids.
“Why was it, for example, that in the hundreds of hours I’d clocked at French playgrounds, I’d never seen a child (except my own) throw a temper tantrum? Why didn’t my French friends ever need to rush off the phone because their kids were demanding something? Why hadn’t their living rooms been taken over by teepees and toy kitchens, the way ours had?” she asks in story adapted from the book for WSJ Online.
Yesterday’s NYTimes review was lukewarm — “Much of the so-called French child rearing wisdom compiled here is obvious,” wrote reviewer Susannah Meadows. Really? I’ve seen too much of what Druckerman describes in my own home and around Baltimore (yes, I mean you, dad at Miss Shirley’s whose toddler kept coming up to our table) to not give it some consideration. Could we learn something from the French?
Mt. Washington’s Crêpe Du Jour sports a loud paint job, tacky decor, and festive dessert plates that celebrate New Year’s Eve 2000. But this is exactly what puts my wife and me — economically-challenged late 20-somethings who get a fight-or-flight response when a waiter scrapes the crumbs off our table after the bread course — at ease. This is where we belong.
Of course, plenty of restaurants offer a casual atmosphere. What makes Crêpe Du Jour special is that it combines a gourmet menu with a friendly vibe and friendly prices (well, not for everything).
We don’t eat there all the time, but it fills an important dining niche for us. When dinner time rolls around and we find ourselves too wiped out to put something together, we head over to The Dizz or Holy Frijoles. When eating out is a premeditated treat, we go to Crêpe Du Jour.
It makes a good date spot for Baltimoreans on a budget: The food is a welcome break from burritos and burgers and comes to the table well-plated. And if you know how to navigate the menu, you can achieve the holy grail of restaurant experiences, the thrifty splurge. (The trick is to avoid the entrees — some are on the wrong side of $20 — and stick to the crêpes, which are plenty filling and tend to be cheaper.) Also, it’s a short walk from the Mt. Washington light rail stop, making it a feasible destination for carless Mt. Vernonites.
It would be an especially good choice for a first date, as the menu is novel, but low-risk. Even picky eaters* ought to be able to find a conversation-worthy dish that doesn’t take them out of their comfort zone. The seating is packed tightly enough that if your conversation is dull, you can listen in on someone else’s. And when dessert comes you can laugh about the 11-year-old New Year’s plates.
*except vegans, since crêpe batter requires an egg, butter, and milk. Do not — I repeat, Do NOT — take a vegan to this restaurant. They wlll be forced to order something other than a crêpe (see above), you will not be able to share a cheese plate, and dessert will be an unmitigated disaster.