Yesterday, Morgan State University social work faculty took the chance to school police from the city and on campus about the history and social fabric of Baltimore.
Let’s start right off with a warning. If you’re not partial to broad stereotypes, this probably isn’t for you. A list of (fake) Barbie dolls representing many corners of the city, from Roland Park to Glen Burnie, has been circulating on the internet recently. Each Barbie comes with her own accessories and a more-or-less on point description. Take the Roland Park Barbie, pictured above:
“This princess Barbie is sold only at Cross Keys. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.”
Tuesday feeling too typical? Check out Baltimore writer Willet Thomas’s highy readable stream-of-consciousness story of a fat baby named Shorondra Reynolds, who won’t budge from our narrator’s rich memory-scape.
When Shorondra Reynolds was a baby we lived in a Baltimore brownstone on the edge of Pigtown. Just me and my mother, when there were no single mothers, just Adele’s mother or Mary’s mama, or Kiki’s madear, and their like. It was a time when a five year-old, like the one I was, could be led by Mr. Mackey, the custodian, to the basement dark spot where kids older than my five years played nasty under stairwells. A time when all that was needed to see a fly go its way and me mine was a penny toffee and a flashlight held close to my ear.
1902 Hollis was a building where everyone knew everyone. We knew Miss Reynolds because Miss Carol in A-2 watched Miss Reynolds’s brother’s kids on weekends, and though big, hardheaded boys, if you were short a nickel, they’d give you one, because their daddy was a mechanic and he was rich. Just like Miss Reynolds knew my mother and which apartment was ours, not only because of the bronze mailbox’s name slot, but because 1902 was a noisy place, what my mother mistakenly called nosey. If mothers hollered children’s given names, this told of impending punishments, just as raucousness coming from Miss Reynolds’s Saturday evenings told everyone her one-dollar-to-play, 50-cents-to-gawk Bid Whist game was underway.
In my twelve years in the Hampdens, I’d walked by the Avenue Diner at the corner of 36th + Elm a hundred times. Quite the non-descript, local joint. Always seemed fine, but nothing I’d really seek out.
On my first visit, I tried the mussels bruxelles with goat cheese, bacon and leeks. Mellow, smooth and tasty. If you like a bit of a kick, try the red devil mussels with tomatoes, garlic and peppers. And, the fries – wow! Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – and excellent dippage on the side. Also, I had the crab and corn chowder, which was ridiculously good. I’m a soup gal – I love making it – so I’m pretty picky about soup. I’d gladly have that again anytime.
On my next visit, I had the dover sole in caper butter sauce over whipped potatoes. Extreme goodness filleted tableside. My friend had the steak with potato croquettes and applewood smoked bacon sprouts. She pretty much licked her plate.
Third time was the absolute charm. I had one of the specials – I highly recommend seriously considering the specials here. This special entree was sauteed [no breading, thank you] soft crabs over fiddle heads and a fava bean aoili. Oh. My. GOSH. The soft and oh-so-slightly crisp soft crab dipped into the creamy aoili. I was done. For my friend, it was the dragon herb moules frites with tarragon and cream. We shared a lovely bottle of Muscadet and the wine was a great match for our food.
The Corner is a tiny place. Tables are close together and I find that creates a bit of comraderie with your neighbors [if you want…if not, you’re fine.] On a recent visit, I sat smack dab between lovebirds holding hands between sips of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and an older group enjoying mixed drinks made from miniature bottles of Glenlivet. Most everyone’s libations, of course, were purchased at the wonderful Wine Source. The Corner offers a small selection of mocktails, to which you can add your own vodka, gin or rum [or not…and just leave it mocked.]
Some friends of mine have told me they think Corner BYOB is expensive. I disagree completely! If you enjoy an alcoholic drink (I do, I do) you save right there. Yes, there are corkage fees, but you still are saving dough. I’m a big fan of hors d’oeuvres for dinner and love making a meal out of snackage. Here, you could certainly make out of the appetizers like escargot and wild mushrooms in a Zinfandel reduction over brioche, inventive salads, in-season soups, etc.
Or…dive into the entrees and you can have a really fabulous dinner for a pretty reasonable amount of money. Menu entrees run from $17 for the Resurrection Ale beef stew and fries to $26 for the dover sole…more for some of the specials. But I don’t mind paying a little more for something I really wouldn’t make at home. Chef Bernard and the kitchen consistently turn out fun and inventive dishes. From time to time, you’ll seefoodie-esque items on the menu like things topped with a quail egg, bone marrow, bear and yak. On a recent visit, I enjoyed a perfectly tender kangaroo steak! If you are particularly interested in adventurous dishes, consider joining their Gastronaut Society. Membership entitles you to prix fixe Gastronaut Society Dinners throughout the calendar year at membership prices, 10% plate discounts on special adventurous fare featured on the menu, as well as an Official Gastronaut Society knife engraved with your name, identifying you as a member. A knife with your name on it. Seriously. In Hampden.
Check out Richard Gorelick’s review. When Corner BYOB first opened, they did not take resies. That’s now changed [you called it, Richard!] And..even though they prefer cash, you can use a credit card with a small fee attached. this note on the menu cracked me up: “Behaved children are most welcome.” Classic.
I’ve been to the Corner about six times now. Stalker much? Each time I’ve gone, the service has been good. a little odd, quirky at times – but never rude or super slow. One thing I wish they would do? Print up the specials so that you can refer back to them. Sometimes the server lists about six or seven things and you definitely lose track of the first one they mentioned.
On my most recent visit, I ran into one of Baltimore’s most beloved filmmakers, perfect mustache and all.
The Corner is not your average restaurant. That’s why I like it. You will too.
The Ivy Bookshop has new owners! Husband and wife team Ed and Ann Berlin will move down from the New York area to run the beloved North Baltimore neighborhood bookstore in the Lake Falls Village shopping center.
The couple, who have friends in town, have been to the store when in Baltimore to visit. When shop owner and founder Darielle Linehan sent out an email last summer alerting loyal customers of her plans to retire, the Berlins contacted her. Ann Berlin has experience in publishing.
The change of ownership will take place sometime in January, Linehan said.
HOT HOUSE: 143 West Lanvale Street, Baltimore 21217
Large, Victorian-era townhouse with stone exterior, restored, in Bolton Hill: $524,900
What: For anyone who loves upscale city living, this elegant, updated 1880’s townhouse is the answer to a dream. Bolton Hill is probably the most beautiful neighborhood in Baltimore, with a nice mix of residents and a true neighborhood feel. Quieter in the summer, when the nearby MICA students leave, it is an immanently walkable, visually-pleasing place to live. The house at 143 West Lanvale Street is spacious and comfortable, with wood floors and crown molding throughout. Everything recently restored, including all systems. It features a gourmet cooks kitchen with granite breakfast bar and an extraordinary master bedroom suite which comprises the entire third floor and has French doors opening onto a pretty deck with south-facing views of the city. Amenities include a steam shower, soaking tub, and covered back porch which overlooks a sweet urban garden. Zoned central air, and at least two wood-burning fireplaces, including one in the master suite. In Manhattan, this would be a $10 million house (just with better shopping).
Where: West Llanvale Street is in the heart of Bolton Hill, with easy access to Penn Station and the MARC train. B bistro is where it’s at restaurant-wise, with a few sandwich and coffee shops within easy reach.
Why: Because you can feel rich, without being rich. Bolton Hill, and this house, were built on a grand scale for the wealthy occupants of Baltimore in its heyday. The period details and beautiful, solid construction will be there long after you’re gone–it’s your place in history.
Why Not: The olive-colored bathroom tile, may not be to everyone’s taste. Neighbor points out “leave anything valuable on your car seat, it will get stolen.”
Would Suit: City-oriented couple, old house enthusiasts, urban family who for $500 can join the neighborhood’s beloved Bolton Hill pool and tennis club