The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Baltimore Restaurant Week choice for beer lovers

Baltimore City Restaurant Week starts today, Friday, January 12rh and runs through Sunday, January 21st – great dining deals abound.  If you are a beer lover, then the choice must be Heavy Seas Ale House’s three course dinner for $35 which includes their brand new release,  AmeriCannon. 

Not only are the desserts accompanied by Heavy Seas Peg Leg, each dessert in some way is infused with one of their liquid libations.

First Course / Choice of:
Beer Pairing: Accompanied by 10oz Cutlass
*Cup of Crab Soup- Traditional Maryland Crab Soup
*Cilantro Lime Salad - Mixed greens, tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, black beans, corn, cilantro, cilantro lime vinaigrette, with cheddar cheese, avocado, crispy tortilla strips
*Beer Battered Crab Dip - House crab dip beer battered and deep fried served with tortilla chips
*Loaded Tots - Choice of: Bacon & Cheddar, BBQ “Tot-Chos”, Old Bay Crab Dip

Second Course / Choice of:
Beer Pairing: Accompanied by 10oz AmeriCannon
Served with your choice of house made chips, fries, or field greens
*Alehouse Burger - Marinated in Powder Monkey and topped with house smoked cheddar, crumbled bacon, house made pickle, lettuce and tomato
*The Portobello Burger -Grilled Portobello mushroom cap topped with roasted red pepper, honey grilled onion, avocado, Swiss cheese, arugula, and red pepper aioli on brioche roll
*Crab Cake - Traditional jumbo lump crab cake
*Blackened Salmon -Wild caught Atlantic salmon, blackened and wood grilled

Third Course / Choice of:
Beer Pairing: Accompanied by 10oz Peg Leg
*Tropicannon Bread Pudding - Peg Leg and Tropicannon infused bread pudding with a Tropicannon infused vanilla cream sauce
*Golden Ale Mouse - An airy chocolate and Gold Ale Mousse
*Peg Leg Chocolate Lave Cake -with Peg Leg whipped cream and Peg Leg ice cream

Heavy Seas Ale House – 1300 Bank Street on the corner of Central Avenue – Baltimore
410-522-0850 Reservations

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Baltmore chef takes on celebrity chef Bobby Flay

I don’t have an answer to the question if Baltimore Marriot Waterfront’s Executive Sous Chef Kiran Patnam beat Chef Bobby Flay, but we all can watch Thursday, January 11 at 10 pm ET/PT on the Food Network. Flay, who flourishes in competitions, so much so, they created a television show just on that, Beat Bobby Flay. Known as one of the original Iron Chefs in America, there are few who have gotten the best of the chef during a culinary competition.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Stratford University's culinary department opens restaurant

Yes, Baltimore, you can indulge in either a three course lunch or dinner for $12 per person.  The culinary students at Stratford University – Baltimore Campus prepare these lunches and dinners. The dining options are cycled with the daytime students’ curriculum for lunches for five weeks and then rotating to the evening students preparing dinner for five weeks.

Lunches are at noon, Tuesday and Wednesdays and the new five week cycle starts Tuesday, January 9th and Wednesday, January 10th. Email reservations required

Friday, January 05, 2018

Links to Winter Restaurant Weeks in the mid-Atlantic: New York, Baltimore, DC, Philadelphia

Restaurant Weeks have taken on their own life with so many variations on the initial theme of the three course dinner, prix fixe menu, reflective of the year. Prices and offerings vary in each municipality – breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, all dining deals along with optional specialty alcohol pairings of beer and wine.

Links to Winter Restaurant Weeks in the mid-Atlantic region from Alexandria, Virginia to the Big Apple - read more at Dara Cooks at Baltimore Post Examiner. 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

A toy for a tot will get you a one cent EVO Evolution draft

Tis the season and what better way to get into the spirit of the holidays than donating an unwrapped new toy for the underprivileged children of this city.  The Nickel Taphouse in Mt. Washington is a Toys for Tots drop off point and is offering the public an EVO Evolution draft or a glass of wine for ONE PENNY, a singular cent, with any toy donation this season.  While you are there, check out their new happy hour menu.

The Nickel Taphouse
Mt. Washington Village
1604 Kelly Avenue
Baltimore, MD  21209

443 869 6240

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gordon Ramsay in Baltimore to launch new restaurant

It is official, the celebrity chef known throughout the world, Gordon Ramsay, is in Baltimore today to open his first East Coast Gordon Ramsay Steak. The restaurant has filled in the Jack Binion Steak House space at the Horseshoe Casino.

Read more at Dara Cooks Blog - Baltimore Post  Examiner

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Culinary gifts for the foodcentrics in your life

Wondering what to get that food crazed friend, mate or family member? Here are my picks from local Baltimoreans:

Chef-for-the-Day at Sotto Sopra Restaurant
The Minx’s Food Pattern Apparel and Accessories
The Food Market (At Home) Cookbook – 150 recipes, color photographs - $30

Learn more about this unique culinary gifts at Dara Cooks Blog on Baltimore Post Examiner 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New fall menus entice at Wit & Wisdom Tavern

When one gets an invite to sample Wit & Wisdom’s Executive Chef Zach Mills’ and Lead Bartender Rob Garrison’s new fall menu items and cocktails, the response was an immediate yes. This Michael Mina tavern is the anchor restaurant for Baltimore’s Harbor East Four Seasons Hotel where each seat, whether at the bar or the dining room has a stunning view of the harbor.

With a new expanded menu of shareable plates, it was a tossup of the Anson Mills Hush Puppies with lemon crème fraîche, lobster vinaigrette and caviar or the Seared Foie Gras Waffle with blood orange marmalade with bourbon maple syrup. My choice was the hush puppies. When they arrived, they were crispy morsels, resembling little mountains topped with caviar rather than snow. Other starters for our party were the Split Pea Soup and the Pear and Endive Salad.

Read more and watch the slideshow at Dara Cooks /Baltimore Post Examiner

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A Spanish obsession: Gin and Tonic

“The Spaniards are obsessive about gin and tonics” espoused Chef José Andrés in an August, 2017 article in Food and Wine Magazine. He said, “Spanish bars can have upwards to 50 gins.” These gins vary  with assorted aromatics and botanicals. 

Baltimore’s own Spanish tapas restaurant, Tapas Teatro, located in the Station North neighborhood, next to the Charles Theatre, tempts patrons with their signature gin-tonics. 

Read more at Dara Cooks at  Baltimore Post Examiner

Saturday, November 04, 2017

March of Dimes - Signature Chefs Auction and Gala

So many worthy causes and how does one choose which ones to support? One of my picks is the March of Dimes of Central Maryland that helps moms have full-term pregnancies and researches the problems that threaten the health of babies.

Every year the March of Dimes of Central Maryland serves up an evening of signature chefs’ cuisine tastings and an extensive auction, both silent and live. This year, the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction will be held Thursday,  November 16th at 6 p.m. at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

Read more at Dara Cooks Blog at Baltimore Post Examiner

Saturday, October 14, 2017

J.Lohr Wine Dinner with winemaker

Players Bar and Grill in Woodstock, Maryland is playing host to California's J.Lohr Vineyards co-owner, Jerry Humphreys on Wednesday, November 1.  J.Lohr Vineyards is located in San Jose, Greenfield and Paso Robles, California.  Attendees will expand their knowledge of wines as the winemaker informs and takes them through the tasting.  This upclose and personal opportunity to meet one of the co-owners of a vineyard is a unique opportunity for any vinophile.

J.Lohr Wine Dinner - Players Bar & Grill
10795 Birmingham Way - Woodstock, MD 
Wednesday, November 1
6 p.m. reception – 6:30 dinner 
Reservations (410) 461-2900

6 pm Reception
 J.Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay

6:30 pm Dinner
Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup

Mesclun Mixed Green Salad
 Mandarin Oranges, Goat Cheese, Candied Walnuts with Raspberry Vinaigrette
J.Lohr Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir

Filet Mignon
Chicken Rosa
 chicken breast in a cream and marinara sauce
J.Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
J.Lohr Bay Mist Riesling

*Vegetarian options are available – please note when making reservation as well as food allergies.

All wines tasted at the diner will be available for purchase at a discounted price at the conclusion of the event.  

$65 per person
(inclusive of food, wine, tax & gratuity)

Players Bar & Grill - 10795 Birmingham Way - Woodstock MD  21163
(410) 461-2900 

Sunday, October 01, 2017

More than just poke

When you can’t get to Hawaii but crave a taste of these Pacific Islands, you don’t have to travel that far. Just make a reservation at Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz. Chef Kalmana Chee, a native of the North Shore of O’ahu, has brought the Hawaiian flavors he grew up with to his Fallston, Maryland restaurant, Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz.

Watch the slideshow and read the full story at Dara Cooks Blog at Baltimore Post Examiner

Monday, September 11, 2017

Top-notched Virginia hospitality at the historic Jefferson Hotel

From the moment my car approached the impressive 19th century Jefferson Hotel, pulled into the cobblestoned drive lined with well-manicured topiary, greenery and flowers, I knew then that a luxury stay was eminent. Weary and road tired from a week long culinary road trip through the Carolinas, we were looking forward to our stay at the historic, AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. This stay would be the cherry-on-the-top, the icing-on-the-cake, and the crème-de-la-crème in sumptuous creature comforts especially in contrast to our trip’s previous Air BnB and Comfort Inn accommodations.

One cannot but be gobsmacked by the beauty of the Jefferson’s Palm Court lobby with its centerpiece, a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the focal point under the skylight of stained glass, with a selection of 1907 Tiffany  side windows.  The beaux arts continue as we peered down the 36 step grand staircase to the rotunda level from the mezzanine with its 70 foot decorative pillars. It surely feels like a step back in time, stunning – one can almost feel the exuberance of past guests and revelers. 

Watch the entire slideshow and read more at the Dara Cooks blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Wishes do come true - Down on the Farm Summer Celebration

Don’t save the date, buy your tickets now to an evening that will help make local children with life-threatening medical conditions wishes come true.  The Franzoni Family present’s their 5th Annual Summer Celebration on Saturday, September 9th – Down on their Verdant Valley Farm, under the stars, stars we’ve all been told by Disney to wish upon and isn’t that apropos for this evening’s festivities. The goal this year, $1,000,000 – and you can help make that wish come true by attending.  If your social calendar is already full and you can’t make this summer celebration, you can still donate cash and/or sponsor. Don’t be hesitant to share this story or event with your friends and family. One hundred of the net proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish® Mid-Atlantic. 

Watch the video and read the full story at Dara Cooks at Baltimore Post Examiner

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Stanford Kitchen Restaurant to open in Owings Mills

Press Release: Stanford Kitchen, part of the Blueridge Restaurant Group that operates sit-down restaurant locations in Columbia and Rockville, Maryland, as well as Orlando, Florida is entering the Baltimore County marketplace with its 4200 square foot lease in the former Stone’s Cove Kitbar free-standing building within Boulevard College Center. Located directly off Owings Mills Boulevard and Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Boulevard College Center is a 55-acre business community managed by David S. Brown Enterprises, LTD.

            Stanford Kitchen, which was designed to ensure that patrons enjoy a memorable dining experience, will bring an intimate feel to a relaxed atmosphere, serving recognizable American food from a scratch kitchen. The made to order, open-air kitchen will provide an upscale, yet inviting dining experience featuring 130 seats, and a large outdoor patio area. The restaurant bar will feature a wide array of specialty cocktails, beers on tap, and a large selection of wines.

Blueridge Restaurant Group expects to open Stanford Kitchen in Owings Mills by first quarter 2018.

“We are thrilled to bring our newest restaurant concept, Stanford Kitchen, to the Owings Mills community,” said David Jones, Managing Member of Blueridge Restaurant Group.  “We spent a considerable amount of time on this decision and ultimately came to the conclusion that this was an ideal location.  This concept will be familiar, but slightly smaller in size, for guests that have previously dined at the Stanford Grill, in Columbia.  As typical with all Blueridge Restaurant concepts, guests should expect a restaurant with a polished casual ambiance, top notch service, and understandable American cuisine that simply tastes great. We cannot wait to bring this signature concept to the Owings Mills community.”

“The owners and operators of Stanford Kitchen have established an extremely popular restaurant brand in Howard and Montgomery Counties, and we are bringing a well-known local operator to Baltimore County with this inaugural concept,” stated Ken Bernstein of David S. Brown Enterprises. “We are extremely confident in their ability to create a restaurant in which local consumers will embrace the atmosphere, menu and drink specialties. This concept is the perfect addition to Boulevard College Center. We believe Stanford Kitchen will immediately become a high traffic generator to the benefit of the existing merchant base because they run a first-class operation”

            Headquartered in Howard County, Maryland, Blueridge Restaurant group owns six restaurants throughout Florida and Maryland. In addition to four Copper Canyon Grill, and two Stanford Grill restaurants, this will be Blueridge Restaurant Group’s first Stanford Kitchen opening. The Stanford Kitchen brand features distinct, chef-inspired American cuisine in an upscale casual atmosphere that is conducive for power meetings, intimate diners or general gatherings with friends and families. For additional information visit

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Historic landmark to be made into a bakery

Single mom, hard working, award winning pastry chef Brandi Edinger reached out to me back in November asking my help should she go forward on a Kickstarter program, a dream to own her own bakery.  I first met Brandi when she was working at Baltimore’s Maryland Club and we have remained friends since.  She is a fighter, tenacious and let me add, talented. I’m asking for your generosity to help her achieve the long standing dream of owning her own bakery.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Finalists of Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament Set to Compete

PRESS RELEASE:  The Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament, is a  multi-week event is a single-elimination tournament designed to showcase some of the area's finest executive chefs and restaurants. Guests attending this exciting event will be more than just spectators, as they enjoy the unique experience of witnessing two spectacular area chefs battle it out in the prep kitchen right on the main floor. Each evening two chef teams go head-to-head to prepare an appetizer, entrée and dessert for each of three expert judges, as well as amuse bouche portions of their entrees for up to 30 audience member judges. Their creations are scored on creativity, presentation and taste, and only one chef advances to the next round. At the end of this tournament only one of the 16 competing chefs will emerge as THE Mason Dixon Master Chef! 10% of the net proceeds of each ticket sold directly to Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. More information available at ,

Final Two Restaurants to Compete on August 13, 2017

The Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament, the mid-Atlantic’s largest, live, interactive culinary competition, is coming to a close this Sunday, August 13, 2017. The summer-long competition began in early June with a field of 16 hopefuls, but is now down to the final two chef teams, who will go head-to-head for cash and prizes and the title of The 2017 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions!

Below are the details for the final match Battle Royale, tickets are on sale now and are expected to sell-out.

Battle Royale

August 13 – Chef Fabio Mura of Grille 620 and River Hill Grill vs. Chef Damon Hersh of The Inn at Brookville Farms

Chef Fabio Mura, Grille 620 / River Hill Grill
Chef Fabio grew up in Sardinia, Italy where he obtained his culinary Degree in Culinary Arts and Management. He moved to the U.S. 19 years ago, where he made a home in Baltimore, and has since worked at some of the best restaurants in Baltimore, including: Sotto Sopra, Boccaccio, Blue Sea Grill, and Chazz: a Bronx Original. He is currently the executive chef at Grille 620 located at the Turf Valley Town Square and at River Hill Grill.

Chef Fabio won "Favorite New Restaurant" from the Restaurant Association of Maryland in 2014. He was also nominated for "Best Chef" from the Restaurant Association of Maryland in 2015.

Chef Damon Hersh, The Inn at Brookeville Farms
Chef Damon Hersh has been cooking for over 20 years, and in the restaurant business for over 25 years. He has experience and skill in a wide variety of culinary environments, including high-end fine dining, casual eating, family style, and ethnic influences. Chef Damon is currently the executive chef at The Inn at Brookville Farms located in Montgomery County in Brookeville, MD.

The Championship match will be held Sunday, August 13th. Bios of all competing chefs are available at The competitions will be held at Points South Latin Kitchen, 1640 Thames Street, Baltimore, MD (

Tournament Ticket Details

Tickets for the Final match are available for purchase at: Tickets are $65 and include all taxes, a wine tasting by Boordy Vineyards, passed hors d’oeurves, the competition, dessert and coffee.  New this year, ALL Tickets for the competition are ‘Judging Experience’ tickets, which allow all guests to taste each of the six courses the chef teams produce (family-style) and be part of the voting to decide the winner!

In addition, the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament donates 10% of the net proceeds of each ticket sold directly to their charity partner Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (

Event Timeline:

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)– Happy Hour with Complementary passed Hors d’oeurves and Wine Tasting by Boordy Vineyards, plus Drink and Food Specials
6:15 p.m. – Cold Prep Begins for the Competition
7:00 p.m. – Chef Competition
8:00 p.m. – Judging Begins, Complementary Dessert and Coffee Served


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