John Cullen with Marty Shayt
The Dining Out duo surveyed their dining out experiences in 2012. Here are some of the bests and worsts of the year:
Blue Sage Café & Wine Bar opened last summer in Mt. Washington, a block away from the newly re-opened Mt. Washington Tavern. It is a large space (painted sage blue of course!) with a few dozen tables, a long bar, and lots of floor-to-ceiling windows, which create a casual, open feeling. The large, one-page menu offers a surprising variety of choices with a half-dozen starters ($6-12), a dozen sandwiches and burgers (most $9-10, fries or potato salad included), and a dozen entrees (most $13-18).
Located in Harbor East and nestled between upscale Cinghiale and Ouzo Bay, Gordon Biersch has a casual, yet boisterous feel. The restaurant’s layout consists of a lounge and bar area, complete with views of the large copper vats used for onsite brewing and two dining rooms with a mix of booths and tables that have a view of the kitchen.
Alchemy, “a modern American eatery,” opened about two years ago in a former storefront on the Avenue in Hampden. A four-foot-high image of Jessica Rabbit greeted us from the front window (John never did figure out the connection…). Inside, Alchemy has a contemporary feel with a dozen tightly configured, walnut-topped tables, plus a few high-backed booths along one wall. A small dining room with sponged plum colored walls and white tablecloths on the second floor has a traditional arrangement but is only open on weekends or when the first floor dining room is full. Colorful modern art and photographs punctuate the walls.
The Museum Restaurant & Lounge emerged this summer from the remains of what had once been the Brass Elephant. The first floor is very reminiscent of the former occupant—a formal space with chandeliers, ornate sconces, and lots of molding—but with some notable additions: a burly doorman carding patrons, newly installed LCD TVs, a bar protruding into the middle of the main dining room, and an unexpected mix of jazz and new age music which seemed at odds with the traditional atmosphere. The second floor has undergone more changes, completed by white leather, ultra-contemporary high-back settees.
Tony Foreman is the business mind behind the Foreman Wolf restaurants Charleston, Petite Louis Bistro, Pazo, and Cinghiale. He also owns the Bin 604 Wine Sellers in Harbor East and Bin 601 in Annapolis. He took the time to sit down with Gay Life to discuss his past, present, and future fine dining ventures.
An invitation to dine at Cinghiale brought expectations of something special (and its free valet parking got us off to a great start!). We entered into the enoteca (wine bar) flanked by the more formal osteria dining rooms. The high wood-beam ceilings create an airy Italianate feeling while large windows offer views of people strolling past the restuarant as well as the adjacent marina. The urbane feel fits right in with the Harbor East neighborhood. Clientele included a mix ranging from “suit and tie” business people to casually dressed 20 to 30-year-olds.
One World Café's menu asserts its goal: to provide "simple, honest, healthy vegetarian cuisine in a casual, eclectic atmosphere."
Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater is a combination biography and coming out story by Frank Bruni, who did a stint as the primary restaurant critic for The New York Times. His tale offers insights to the struggle between the perceived conflicts between his lust for food and his lust for men.
Gertrude’s opened in 1998, positioned between the Baltimore Museum of Art and its outdoor sculpture garden, and is co-owned by noted chef and writer John Shields and his long-time life partner, John Gilligan. Their restaurant is named after Shields’ grandmother who early on got him interested in cooking.