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Found 16 results

  1. Little Grano [Grano Pasta Bar] is probably the best place in the Hampden area.I am not sure of the raison d'etre of the big one [Grano Emporio].
  2. There should be a thread for Dylan's, which should be regarded as the best (or a top 3) restaurant in Hampden. Spotlight here is on oysters, naturally, but easy to say that the remainder of the menu often steals the show. Bar program is high-quality too, with an emphasis on whiskies (the main bartender is a serious whiskey nerd). Highlights over several visits have included: - Coddies - basically giant cod croquettes; these are must haves - Fish sandwich - rotating selection of delicious fried fish on sesame bun with added hots. - Ramp toast - a seriously loaded-up roasted ramp and ricotta (I think? this was in the spring) toast. They occasionally have a burger special, which is supposed to be fantastic, and there is a rumored off-menu item called a "Smasher," which is essentially a coddie with the fish sandwich bun and accouterments. Sidewalk eatin' is great here too with an fun view of the busy intersection of Chestnut Ave. and 36th St. (aka "the Avenue").
  3. Papi's Taco Joint On an unseasonably cold spring Sunday, with temps dipping below zero, we engaged in some culinary counterprogramming with street tacos and Coronas for dinner. This was my first visit and and my friends' n-th time there. It's a cute place. Full service bar area as you walk in, a small dining room is adjacent (maybe 20 seats) and a covered patio (even smaller) with heat lamps. Collectively we've only ever tried the tacos, which you order from a small printed menu pad on each table, wherein you check off your selections like a sushi menu. They come in orders of two ($5-8.50). I went with braised short rib (probably their most popular) and the ground beef - both with soft shells, with cilantro, onion, radish, lime wedge. Incredibly flavorful meats and fresh veggies. Complimentary chips/salsa are clearly made in house but the former were cold and otherwise unremarkable. Service is quick and attentive. For < $15, I had a very filling meal plus an adult beverage. Just one order of two + chips may be plenty for lunch. I'll definitely be back. Warning: the habanero-based sauces on the table (one red, one green) should be approached like like Caps fans entering the playoffs (with cautious enthusiasm). Anyone been to either of their sister restaurants: Alexander's Tavern (also in Fells) or Huck's American Craft (Canton)?
  4. Last night, before I went to see John Sayles read at Atomic Books, I dropped into The Corner on the Avenue in Hampden for dinner. It's the former site of the 36th st Diner, just south of The Wine Source. The chef, Bernard Dehaene used to be a Mannequin Pis in Olney. The menu looked pretty impressive- continental with a Belgian influence- mussels, steak frites, waffles for dessert, escargots. Their specials sounded intriguing as well- kangaroo tenderloin, dover sole. I ordered 2 starters- housemade boudin noir and soft shell crab on top of fiddleheads. The blood sausage was creamy & delicious. The softshell was beautifully pan fried, no batter. For my main course, I had the veal orloff- it was cooked with the bone and topped generously with beschamel and mushrooms. The meat was very well prepared. My only complaints- they are cash only (not that bad), and the corkage fee- I brought in a beer and was charged $4 for it. Also they charge you $1 for a takeaway box. 850 West 36th Street Baltimore, MD 21211 (443)869.5075 UPDATE- pics are here
  5. Hampden recently got a proper cocktail bar, the Bluebird Cocktail Room, which took over a former art gallery space that sits above the De Kleine Duivel Belgian beer hall. The space itself is extraordinary. To enter the establishment, you walk through the heated patio that has been outfitted with bench swings for those longer, summer days, up a flight of stairs and through a hallway at which the space opens up in front of you. Marble tables anchor the center of the room, while a long marble bar features to the left of the space and cushioned benches ring the remainder of the room. Cocktails here vary from poor to outstanding, but there are more misses than hits. The price point is, dare I say, far too tied to DC prices and should really come down a couple of bucks across the board. Nevertheless, the liquor selection is excellent, but lately, I have stuck to the Old Fashioned because it is potent and delicious, and is something the bartenders can consistently produce. Bar snacks are also not an afterthought here, and some of the more noteworthy items from the kitchen have been a merguez sausage and a salmon crostini. A batch of fries recently, however, was forgettable. I'm happy to have this space here, but I'd like to see less silliness and more consistency across the board with regard to the drinks.
  6. At 1000yregg's urging, we booked a dinner last weekend at Arí´mes, a new spot in Hampden that just opened a couple of weeks ago. Chef Monnier hails from Reims with a résumé that stands on classic haute cuisine spots in Paris and LA, but has chosen to open his small (24-ish seat) operation in a converted rowhouse, specializing in seasonal and local ingredients. Dinner is a prix fixe affair of six courses for $65, or three for $45. Four of the courses are smaller bites to precede the main course, and then you proceed to dessert. Because of the ever-changing menu, it's somewhat academic to repeat what we had, but each course's description sounded simple, unexpected, and maybe even opportunistic, and yet each time what arrived was remarkably integrated, and much more than the sum of its parts to the extent that each component became essential. Also evident was a high degree of technique and care in the preparation. I'm only going to describe a few of our courses, but there wasn't a dud in the bunch. "Beets, umeboshi, pear jam, and lucky plum" combined soft and crisp textures in a small composition of fleshy fruits and root vegetables, plated with a flourish of beet ash. It cleansed the palate for the next course, a little taste of "risotto and scallop chicharrones with Old Bay mayo". I don't know how they struck upon the idea of making chicharrones out of large thin curls of good scallops, but its compelling and concentrated umami was almost unreal, and a worthy match for a few bites of perfectly toothy risotto. The "oyster with green apple and sorrel" was a single oyster on a bed of rock salt, topped with a foam (the only appearance of modernist technique all evening) so you breathed its flavor as much as you tasted it. This course was a bit precious, but whatever oyster they used (it wasn't indicated) was beautifully clean and deeply cupped, almost like a kusshi, which makes me really curious where it's coming from in this region? The chalkboard near the front window held only thank-yous to a number of their suppliers: Vent Coffee Roasters (excellent, btw), Trickling Springs Creamery, Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop, Two Boots Farm, Baltimore Organic Farm, and Liberty Delight Farm. It's not a place for wildly crowd-pleasing dishes like Rose's, and to be honest I think a picky eater wouldn't have enjoyed all of these dishes, nor the menu format. But if our meal was any indication, Aromes is worth the serious diner's consideration, and worth the trip.
  7. I'm constantly shocked when I read about fine dining/drinking in Hampden. In 1989-90, I lived on W. 35th St. and the only places to eat were corner bars and the diner on the Avenue. The community was all white, all Baltimoron and any diversity was quickly drummed out of the area. I'm happy Hampden has become such a bright spot.
  8. We as consumers, want to be able to dine responsibly. Hence the popularity of the farm to table movement, but honestly just about all of the ingredients that land on the table , come from a farm. Present day, you hear a great deal about urban farming, as well as vertical gardening. A new agricultural movement is on the up an up .Hyper local is gonna be the new farm to table. Foraged is a hyper local eatery that recently opened on Chestnut St in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. I went there on Saturday, and had to find out if all the hulaballoo lived up to the hype. I made a reservation for 4 for 6pm. The space is relatively small and I believe it may seat up to 30 people in one seating. You kinda feel as though you are in a farmhouse, and I kinda like it. The overall aesthetic of the restaurant was rustic. On the left wall there are installations of 2 vertical garden panels. Vertical gardens are all the rage you know. All the cool kids are doing it. We brought a bottle of wine to have with our meal. There is no charge for corkage since their liquor license has not been obtained yet. I imagine once they are in full swing, one may expect to imbibe on locally crafted brews, and spirits. We were sat at a lovely table parked right in front the kitchen. The best seat in the house, in my opinion. First look at the menu, I am immediately pleased. There aren't distinctive apps and entrees, but rather plates encouraged to be shared. I like the idea that several dishes can be ordered , and passed around the dining table. Often though when dining with a group of people, this can be a plus, or a minus. I'm am referring to the end of the meal and calculating who pays for what. If you dine with a group that equally shares, then it only makes sense to split evenly, but if one party only partakes in one dish, sharing of the dishes may present challenges. But back to the food. One of my guests happen to have dietary restrictions, and I was pleased that the kitchen was able to accommodate. We were told the entirety of the dish may be presented differently, but changes could be made. Another trend that is happening to menus everywhere is the attention made to feed both vegetarians, and vegans alike. I commend this effort. My guest happen to be neither, but could not consume dairy. The server informed us that it may greatly restrict her choices considering just about everything on the menu was basted or prepared with dairy. The server checked with the Chef before giving his final answer. Otherwise, sadly we would have had to leave and venture to another restaurant. Fortunately , the Chef was able to adjust to my guest dietary requests. I started out with the oyster chowder. I have been spoiled with good soup that has been prepared at the hands of Chef Tom Power of Corduroy, so my expectation was high. I am happy to report, the chowder delivered. The briny flavor of the oysters, paired with the elegant composition of the silky broth made for a perfect chowder. The presence of fennel and a brunoise of aromatic veggies, that I can't put my finger on, elevated the soup. The menu description was appropriately titled. I wanted to tip the bowl into my mouth so that I could savor every drop. It was then followed by a Mushroom stew. It may not have been a traditional stew, but its was amazing. Stewed Hen of the woods mushrooms garnished with dollops of ricotta gnudi, and topped off with a pillowy poached egg. The star of the dish was obviously the mushrooms, but I expected the yolk to add a richness that surprisingly was missed. The addition of what I thought to be sunflower seeds, which actually were pine nuts, added a clever nuttiness to the dish. I only wished there was a bit of bread to soak up the mushroom liqueur in the bottom of the bowl. I conclude my meal with the pastrami pork belly served with greens. My instinct was to order the catfish stew, but was directed to try the pork belly instead. I should have stuck to my gut. Though the pork belly, as good as it was, did not deliver as I thought it would. I found it to be salty, and paired with the greens being briny as well, it was overkill. Pork belly has essentially become the chocolate molten cake of menus. Everyone does it. Nothing ground breaking here. I often follow the guidance of the server, and he versed it to be a sure thing. To me, I should have went with my first choice. The meal as whole, was good. Could it have been better, sure. I will venture back after they have expanded their menu to include spirits, and will follow my own compass as to what to select. One thing is for sure, the Chef followed a bit of advice from his former employer, Sean Brock of the famed McCrady's. The James Beard Awarded chef passed on to the Chef, " Respect the food. Treat it like you would treat a loved one." You could taste the love in the food, especially in the first two courses. The last course, the Chef may have been a bit over zealous, and seasoned the dish aggressively. The setting of restaurant, along with the meticulous details in preparation of all of the dishes,was not missed on this diner. In my travels, I seek out spots that set themselves apart from the rest of the herd. The Chef, Chris Amendola, has made an impression on me that will warrant another visit. I will be back. This time I just won't have the molten chocolate cake, oops, I mean the pork belly. Roaming gourmet, kat
  9. Baltimore Restaurant Week officially kicks off this Friday 1-12 and runs through 1-21. As someone who used work during this madness, please be kind to your the service staff, and honor the reservation. I won't lecture you all on making multiple plans at several restaurants, but please be judicious in making your plans. A great deal of planning both for FOH as well as BOH goes into executing a great restaurant week. Enjoy all that Baltimore has to offer, Hon!! Restaurant Week veteran, kat
  10. From a post on Serious Eats, news that Paulie Gee's, a Neapolitan pizza joint from Greenpoint in Brooklyn will be opening a franchise next year in Hampden in Baltimore at the former Republican club. Wow- with Hersh's and Birroteca opening this year in town, it's a good time for pizza lovers.
  11. Birroteca, a new restaurant that focuses on pizza, small plates, craft beer, and wine officially opens tonight. A little bit about how the restaurant came to be here and a link to their Facebook page here (they do not appear to have a website up yet). I had the opportunity to go for their soft opening last night with 3 friends. The full menu was available and we were able to choose what we wanted. The menu is split into the following sections: appetizers, salads, pastas (entrees), pizzas, and vegetables, with if I'm remembering correctly about 6-8 choices in each section, plus they have a nightly special. We opted to get a mix of the small plates/apps, pizza, and entrees and share everything. We started with three appetizers, the meatball, calamari, and fried polenta as well as a duck confit salad, all of which were excellent. My favorites were probably the meatball, which was 8 oz (not sure what type of meat is used) and served on top of housemade ricotta with tomato sauce and a little shaved cheese and the calamari, which was cooked a la plancha, resulting in incredibly tender pieces of calamari topped with capers and grilled lemon. The fried polenta was a pleasant surprise, 3 "sticks" of very creamy polenta that was fried to crisp perfection (I really have no idea how they accomplished this) served on top of eggplant ragu. The duck confit salad with a bed of greens with figs and some type of citrus fruit, topped with an entire duck confit leg. The fat was scored and rendered really well and the skin was incredibly crispy - I could eat that leg every day. The salad itself was less appealing to me, everything went nicely together, but there was a bit too much sweetness overall for me to have eaten the entire salad on my own. Next up we shared the duck duck goose pizza, two entries: the papperadelle with wild boar bolognese and the penne with fennel sausage, the mussel appetizer, and the cauliflower from the vegetable section. The pizza came topped with duck confit and a duck egg. It was really rich and tasty, but again there was that sweetness and sadly our duck egg was overcooked so we weren't able to get the benefit of the yolk spreading out over the pizza as you cut into it. However, the crust was perfect for me - the right balance of slight chewiness to overall crispness. The pasta for the bolognese appeared to be housemade and was very tender and the sauce was very good, if not wowing. The fennel sausage was a surprising standout however. Not sure where the sausage is sourced from, but it's incredible and balanced nicely with the tomatoes and the bitterness of the greens in the dish although I don't think the penne is homemade . The (1/2 lb of) mussels would have been underwhelming I think were it not for the croutons in the dish. I will fail miserably at describing these - they were flavorful and incredibly well seasoned and seemed to be soaked with liquid, but they were still crunchy so they added a nice texture and flavor to the dish. By the time I got to the cauliflower, the last item to reach our table, I was getting quite full so I'm not sure I can evaluate it fairly. It was roasted and again had a sweetness to it (fig, balsamic, both?) that for me after having experienced that with both of the duck dishes was too much, but it was tasty otherwise. Desserts were a pumpkin pannacotta that was well liked across the board, as well as a chocolate fig tart (good, but not something I would rush to order again) and the olive oil & sea salt and ricotta ice creams (both tasty - I enjoyed having the sea salt ice cream with the chocolate tart and the ricotta ice cream with the pannacotta). We stuck mostly to by the glass wines, and a couple of people sampled some of the craft beers on tap. They have a really nice selection of (mostly local) beers on tap, I would say about 15 of them (?) from places like Brewer's Art, Stillwater, Flying Dog (was so happy to get to enjoy The Fear on tap), etc. along with a decent cocktail list. I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the wines that we had and I sampled 4 of the reds, but for the price (most tend to run $7/glass) they're fine. They didn't have a dessert wine list yet and were still working on that so hopefully the wine list will evolve as well. For the sake of full disclosure, we were asked to pay for our drinks, but not our food. However, we were presented with the food bill separately (presumably so we could tip accordingly) and for everything that we ate, plus an average of 2-3 drinks/person with tax and tip the meal would have cost us just over $60 per person, which to me is an excellent value as we left stuffed. Across the board I felt the food was very good to excellent, the set up of the menu is really great - a large enough selection with a lot of enticing choices, but not overwhelming (and nice for sharing), the service especially for a soft opening was quite good (there were a few hiccups, but surprisingly few), and I really liked the interior - I think this restaurant will be a promising addition to the Hampden restaurant scene. ETA: You'll have to forgive me if I've forgotten some of the details or gotten things wrong as I'm working completely from memory here.
  12. Last Saturday, I attended a Vietnamese Street Food Class at Baltimore Chef Shop in the heart of Hampden (passersby were frequently looking in the open windows). The list of classes available is quite large, considering the building is a small converted rowhome with room for about 12 on the first floor and maybe 6-10 in the basement. I can't pretend to know what the market is for this type of thing, but for $65 a head we got to learn how to cook something we wouldn't normally (without grovery shopping or cleaning!), meet other people, and eat a delicious large meal we created with strangers. The instructor and assistance was there to help when we asked questions, but not too overbearing, and encouraged any creative edits we wanted. This may not be something I'd do every week/month, but it was a fun change of pace and let me expand my cooking knowledge. I have a couple other classes I'm eyeing, so we'll see if I can get back.
  13. Matt and I went to Blue Pit BBQ on Saturday night after a few beers at Union with some friends who recommended it. I thought the BBQ was definitely up there, better than anything I have had in the DC area for ribs and pulled pork. I thought the smoke level was good, I liked the rib rub, it was so good you didn't really even need sauce. I wouldn't have minded a spicier bbq sauce for the pork, but I ended up really liking their mustard sauce with the pork actually. Our friends didn't care for the bratwurst, of course they are from Minnesota and their parents make bratwurst so... I liked the sides, the collards tasted like collards, but were cooked down nicely. I wasn't crazy about the potato salad, I thought the potatoes were a bit under cooked, however the flavor was there. I really liked one of the coleslaws, I think it was the MD seasoning one. The cornbread was really good. They also had a great bar selection of whiskeys and bourbons, I had a Frisky Kitty cocktail that was good. A nice can beer list too, Matt had something from San Francisco he really likes, but can't find often. All in all a very good stop, especially after drinking some beer.
  14. The Food Market is a new restaurant opening on the Avenue in Hampden this Friday. Ched Chad Gauss used to cook at the trendy City Cafe. Here is a link from Baltimore magazine previewing it.
  15. I did not realize that there is no topic on 13.5%, a wine bar located on the Avenue in Hampden. It's one of my go to places to eat when I'm in the mood for something a little more upscale in the neighborhood. Chef Sarah Acconcia comes from Woodberry Kitchen and Abacrombie, and she has some skills in pastry as well. The place is decorated in a modern style with some seats that are almost like lounge chairs with other tables right by couches. The food is very seasonal and features a lot of small plates as well. The wine selection is impressive- all reasonably priced wines with 40 available to order by the glass. The bartenders are also very generous in that they let you taste a wine before you order it. I was just there Friday, and they have a new spring menu. We started with a plate of hot roasted almonds with chile and sea salt. My friend had a red leaf salad with feta and honey vinaigrette. She ordered one of their pizzas, which are quite good and very thin. She had the radish and ricotta pizza. The radishes were sliced thin and looked like pepperoni. I ordered the special: steelhead with a coating of duck cracklings and new potatoes. In the past I've had foie gras dishes, fiddleheads, ramp pizza, roasted hazelnuts, and also great desserts. For some reason, the neighborhood locals and "hipsters" don't tend to eat here. It draws more folks from around the city than other dining places on the Avenue.
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