John Cullen with Marty Shayt

John Cullen with Marty Shayt

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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.

We haven’t been to Café Hon in a long time, so we talked four friends into joining us in order to discover what difference the recent Chef Gordon Ramsay makeover had on the restaurant. (The Café Hon Kitchen Nightmares episode aired February 24.)

In honor of the 30th anniversary of its opening, the Rusty Scupper invited us to a complementary dinner. We hadn't dined here in a very long time, but the main restaurant dining room on the second floor with a mix of tables and booths under a rustic beamed ceiling felt much as we remembered. We were seated next to the windows and discovered that the original, memorable view of downtown and the Inner Harbor now included awesome views of the new Harbor East area as well. (Some tables which are three to four rows back from the windows have a more obstructed view.)

The original Charles Village Pub (not to be confused with its namesake in Towson) is a small, noisy, old-time sports pub with a narrow space filled by a long bar with 20 stools on one side and lined with booths along the other. The walls above the booths are filled with Baltimore sports photos; the booths fit at most four people and there are no tables. On the floor along the bar, the finish has been worn away after 30 years of bar stools pushing back and forth. The only nods to modernity are a half dozen LCD TV's providing views of sports events. The unpretentious realness of the place combined with a mix of hunky Hopkins students, middle age straight couples, and 70+ year-old customers gave us a feeling similar to putting on some favorite old shoes.

We wanted to treat a friend to a birthday dinner, and she selected the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pikesville. Though situated in a modern business office complex, the five dining rooms have a posh traditional feel with lots of dark wood, muted colors and tables decked out in heavy white linens spaced nicely part. While we're used to upscale restaurants, Ruth's Chris' menu prices raised our eyebrows. With most entrées priced $35 to $50 (and vegetables at $8 or more not included), the menu induced acute sticker shock. (There are no prices on their online menu nor does the actual menu provide the weight for the pricey steaks.) Starter soups and side salads ranged from $8 to $11 and a handful of appetizers ranged from $13 to $18.

The new Ruby Buffet in Towson stands out among a growing number of Asian buffet restaurants that have sprung up around Baltimore in regard to both its style and quality of its food.

Strolling along Broadway in Fell's Point, you could easily pass by Alexander's Tavern without realizing the opportunities to try some tasty food in the pleasant space adjacent to the bar. The large dining room is light and airy with large French doors along the sidewalk, with 18 tables and some great 100-year-old photographs of Baltimore on the walls. A warm and friendly waitress greeted us as soon as we walked in and made us feel immediately welcome.

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