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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Baltimore's Station North restaurant of note: Pen and Quill


I’ve always considered Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood the city’s cultural district and when you cross over Mt. Royal Avenue it becomes Station North’s Art District, up to North Avenue and a wee bit beyond. Center to the arts district is the Charles Theatre, bastion of indie and first run movies and close by, at the corner of North Charles Street and Lanvale Streets is Pen and Quill Restaurant, where the original 20th century Chesapeake Restaurant reigned supreme for many years.


The space lay dormant for many years, went through a revival under the name of the Chesapeake but failed to garnish customers.  Step in Helmand and Quayum Karzai of the Helmand, B Bistro and Tapas Teatro restaurant group to re-imagine the space, food and beverage offerings. 

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Marriage of Culinary Icons: The Elephant and Sascha's Catering

Hot off of Facebook comes this post from Mallroy Staley, General Manager and Co-Owner in the Elephant. I'm not going to re-write this, here it is:​​

When two of Baltimore’s culinary icons – rich in great food, hospitality, style and entertainment – join hands, one can expect a welcomed smile of anticipation for upcoming dining delights and special events.

The Elephant restaurant, with its stunning revival of a historic Mt Vernon mansion and welcoming culture, has been winning the hearts and appetites of its guests since its recent opening. And now, The Elephant has added one of Baltimore’s most well regarded and charming caterers to its family – Sascha's.

“Together, The Elephant and Sascha's will blend their culinary creativity, kitchen mastery, guest-centered service, commitment to excellence and stylish presentations to better serve the Baltimore community's fine food and entertainment needs,” promises Mallory Staley, General Manager and co-owner of The Elephant and the new co-owner and catering director of Sascha’s.

The “marriage” was arranged soon after Mallory Staley met Sascha Wolhandler, a trend setting caterer in Baltimore for the past 40 plus years, a few weeks ago. “It quickly became clear to both of us that this was a marriage made in heaven,” admits Sascha.

In the late 70’s, Sascha Wolhandler started making French crepes prepared on authentic griddles outdoors on Charles Street. Then due to its popularity, she was invited to provide them at Center Stage, as before and/or after theatre treats. Sascha soon became known for her outstanding and out-of-the-ordinary food, presented with flair and in a way that no one else was doing at the time. People wanted Sascha to provide her creative and taste-forward creations for dinner parties at their homes and special events at various venues around town. Thus, by public demand, Sascha’s Catering was born and became one of the premier caterers in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Now after more than 40 successful years, Sascha found herself wanting to offer her thriving catering business to – Mallory Staley, a life-long hospitality professional with a background in high-end catering and the co-owner of one of Baltimore’s top-rated restaurants – The Elephant.

As a young girl, Mallory spent a lot of time on her grandparents’ farm in Frederick, Maryland. She loved the farm life – growing plants, riding the tractor, digging for potatoes, and picking beans and corn. “I remember the farmhouse meals: the smell and taste of simple, local, fresh-picked food,” she fondly recalls.

With this love for farm fresh food in her soul, she head to New York City to study at the French Culinary Institute, one of the most highly respected culinary schools in the world. Upon graduation, she began her professional career at some of Manhattan’s finest restaurants and catering companies. With passion, creativity, and culinary skills – she worked her way up to become the Pastry Chef at the Plaza Hotel in NYC and at Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s American Cut restaurant in Atlantic City. But after a few years in New York and New Jersey, she wanted to get back to her Maryland roots. Heading to Baltimore, she moved from the “back-of-the-house” to the “front-of-the-house” becoming the General Manager at Sotta Sopra and helping to manage Ouzo Bay in Harbor East.

Then over two years ago, Mallory teamed up with Linda Brown Rivelis and Steven Rivelis to open The Elephant restaurant, serving globally inspired cuisine and classic cocktails in an 1850’s midtown mansion. Located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon neighborhood, The Elephant is recognized as one of the regions “Top Ten Restaurants” with a vibe that is chic, yet elegantly casual.

Now with the marriage of The Elephant and Sascha’s, they will be able to enhance the boutique catering company’s delivery of best-in-class experiences from small corporate lunches to intimate parties to large scale weddings. “Our vision is continue the success of Sascha’s legacy with a smooth transition of leadership and in combination with the resources and reputation of The Elephant to delight and wow each of our clients and their guests,” states Mallory Staley.

Whether you desire a …
- Sumptuous dinner in a lovely historic townhouse
- Gourmet "Silver Sac" luncheon for your next business meeting
- Private Chef to design, create and serve an intimate dinner party at your home, or
- One-of-a-kind wedding reception or other elegant event to honor a very special occasion

… Sasha’s and The Elephant will be at your call, providing you, your friends and family with a spectacular and most memorable experience.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Notable local finalist for 2017 James Beard Awards

The finalists for the food world's Oscars, the 2017  James Beard Awards were announced today and two standouts from Baltimore made the list.

First, Cindy Wolf as Best Mid Atlantic Chef - she is so good she gets nominated every year and she is due, do you hear me James Beard Award committee! Chef Wolf has been at the culinary helm of the ForemanWolf Restaurant Group - Charleston, Petite Louis, Cinghiale, Johnny's,  and Bar Vasquez.

Under the category of Personal Essay - our newly transplanted Brooklynite Allison Robicelli whose story In Sickness, in Health, in White Castle on website Food52 has garnished a big nod and nomination.  She and her husband owners of the well-known Robicelli's Bakery came to Baltimore about a year ago. Since then they have been through a number of trial and tribulations, a lot reflected in the story.  What I have learned that Allison's creative wit and charm comes through even in the darkest of times.  Way to go Allison - Dining Dish is rooting you on!
Always making faces for the camera - Allison Robicelli with her husband Matt. 
Restaurant awards will be held in Chicago the beginning of May and the media awards at Chelsea Pier in New York.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

There is more to Hersh's than just pizza


Their logo, a woman eating a slice of pizza with ooey, gooey melted cheese running from the slice to her lips denotes that this is the item to indulge at Hersh’s located in Baltimore’s up-and-coming Riverside neighborhood but they are offering much more than just pizza.  Check out the entire story and slideshow at my Dara Cooks blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Get your wedding on at &pizza on Pi Day- Rescheduled to 3/15 due to impending snow storm

RESCHEDULED TO Wednesday March 15th due to impending snow storm. Same hours

This is not the first year that &pizza has become a lasting memory to numerous couples married under the &pizza sign, but it is the first year that it is happening at their Baltimore location. Back in 2015, eager couples got in queue at the &pizza in Washington, D.C. for the inaugural Pi Day Wedding Chapel. “The ampersand has always stood for connecting two things, “ and the &pizza spokesperson continued, “The annual &pizza Pi Day Wedding Chapel is a way of celebrating those values through one of the most meaningful and personal acts two people can experience.”

Read the full story and get all the details at my Dara Cooks blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Asian inspired five course dinner at Sotto Sopra Restaurant: Guest Chef Tayfun Abuska


Baltimore’s award-winning Sotto Sopra Restaurant located in the heart of the Mt. Vernon cultural district has been very active with special events, especially their guest chef series.  Mark your calendars for a most engaging five course Asian inspired dinner from Chef Tayfun Abuska on Wednesday, March 22nd with two seatings:  5:30pm to 6:00 pm and 7:30pm to 8pm

Chef Tayfun Abuska, a Turkish native who started working at an early age at the Izmir Palmiye Hotel, transitioned to the 5-Star Ankara Hilton Hotel and continued to work for the Swiss Hotels. His culinary path has taken him through the French Embassy to the United States in 2008, where he worked for the Four Seasons Hotels in Wyoming, California and here in Baltimore. A stint at Michael Mina’s Pabu Japanese Restaurant working with Chef Jonah Kim has inspired his penchant for Asian dishes which is apparent in his Guest Chef Dinner’s menu.

Check out the menu and further details at my Dara Cooks blog on Baltimore Post Examiner

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Top Chef Season 7 contestant cooks for charity event in Baltimore

For those who love a good party, food, and drink this just crossed my desk.  No time to put my own spin on this - here is the press release: 

Bmore Together is hosting a Culinary Showcase on Monday, March 20, to benefit local youth arts organization Muse 360Tickets are on sale now.

When: March 20th from 6-9pm
Where: Church & Co, 3647 Falls Road
Cost: $60 in advance ($75 at the door)


Your ticket includes:
Hearty small plates from five culinary superstars, assisted by high school culinary arts students from the National Academy Foundation in Baltimore City. Drinks and wine pairings included. Vegetarian options will be available at each station.

**The following chefs (who have graciously donated their time and top-notch ingredients!) will be preparing haute cuisine in their own distinct styles.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Restaurant Association of Maryland announces finalist for 2017 Stars of the Industry

This is a ride-by post, a simple cut an paste of those in the restaurant industry who have garnished the notice of the general public and are finalist in the Restaurant Association of Maryland's 2017 Stars of the Industry Awards. You as the public get to vote who walks away with the award. 

Voting is open March 8-29, 2017 for the statewide Stars of the Industry Awards celebrating Maryland’s most elite restaurants and hospitality professionals. The dining public can vote for their favorites online at marylandrestaurants.com/awards and on Facebook, facebook.com/marylandrestaurants


Winners will be announced on Sunday, April 30th at the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s Stars of the Industry Awards Gala – Cirque. Each winner will get statewide bragging rights and the opportunity to display their 2017 award-winning logo on their website, menus and other promotional materials. The following restaurants and restaurateurs have been nominated as the top finalists in each category:

Maryland's Chef of the Year, presented by Oracle:
1. George Batlas – Manor Tavern
2. Brigitte Bledsoe – Miss Shirley’s Café
3. Scott Chambers – La Ferme
4. Jeremy Hoffman – Preserve
5. Enzo Livia – Il Pizzico


Craft Brew Program of the Year, presented by Evolution Craft Brewing Company:
1. The White Oak Tavern – Ellicott City
2. Tapp’d – Bethesda
3. World of Beer - Baltimore
4. Frisco Tap House - Gambrills
5. Oscar's Alehouse – Eldersburg


Maryland's Favorite New Restaurant:
1. Alchemy Elements – Bel Air
2. Sello’s Italian Oven & Bar – Ocean City
3. Duck Duck Goose – Bethesda
4. RockSalt Grille– Westminster
5. Slice New York Pizza- Towson


Maryland's Favorite Restaurant:
1. Iron Rooster – Annapolis
2. Madrones - Frederick
3. Mission BBQ – Statewide
4. Mon Ami Gabi – Bethesda
5. The Prime Rib – Baltimore


Maryland's Favorite Bar or Tavern:
1. Dock Street Bar & Grill – Annapolis
2. Fish Head Cantina – Halethorpe
3. Harborside Bar & Grill – Ocean City
4. Nottingham’s – Columbia
5. The Point in Fells – Baltimore


Heart of the Industry:
1. Garret Hadel (Bartender) - Jimmy’s Famous Seafood
2. Manny SanJuan (Manager) - Captain Dan’s Crabhouse
3. Hilary Hogarty (Server) - Elkridge Furnace Inn


Wine and Beverage Program of the Year:
1. Dry 85 – Annapolis
2. Jules – Ocean City
3. Bond Street Social - Baltimore
4. The Tasting Room – Frederick
5. Wine Market Bistro – Baltimore





Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sunday Brunch Pick: Iron Rooster


Sunday brunch, where to go?  One of my picks for Sunday Brunch is the Iron Rooster, an upscale full service restaurant that serves breakfast all day long with the option for lunch and dinner choices.  It was just before Christmas that they opened their 3rd location in Hunt Valley; the other two locations are in Canton and Annapolis.  All three locations offer out a new twist on traditional comfort food.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Upscale dinner-and-a-movie: CineBistro grand opening at the Rotunda


Luxe movie going has come to Baltimore with the opening February 24th of CinéBistro at the Rotunda. The seven theatre movie complex has state-of-the-art 4 k digital projection and 7.1 surround sound add local Executive Chef Mark Davis, who has created an American inspired menu for moviegoers to enjoy at their lush leather reclining theatre seats or at the theatre’s restaurant section.


Just like making reservations for dinner, you can reserve your seats at your CinéBistro movie choice, arrive 30 minutes prior to the movie to place your order from the chef driven menu – sit back, relax and your meal is served before the movie begins. It is real dining, on china, metal flatware and linen napkins. You don’t have to order food; you can get your favorite movie going snacks, even get a beer, cocktail, specialty coffee or wine.  Since alcohol is served, the movie theatre is adults only, 21 years age or older.

Read the full story and watch the slideshow at my Baltimore Post Examiner Blog 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fleet Street Kitchen morphs into Italian concept: Tagliata


As fall was taking hold we heard that the Bagby Restaurant Group had turned over two of their restaurant concepts at 1010 and 1012 Fleet Street to Atlas Restaurant Group: Ten Ten and Fleet Street Kitchen. Fleet Street Kitchen closed the beginning of the year with a focus on the redesign of the restaurant and a new dining concept.

Read the full story at my Baltimore Post Examiner blog Dara Cooks

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Grab your seat at Wit and Wisdom Tavern's Kitchen Table Series



There is so much to say about this series of up-close-and-personal dining and beverage series at s Wit and Wisdom Tavern by Chef Michael Mina in the Four Seasons Hotel, waterfront at Baltimore’s Harbor East! This is not the first of the rotating Kitchen Dinner Series that is kicking off February 1st, in the fall of 2016; with the new open kitchen renovation came Wit and Wisdom’s initial series, the Curated Dinner Series, every Wednesday Night. Twelve lucky patrons were seated front line to the preparation of an exquisite meal created and assembled by Executive Chef Zach Mills, Pastry Chef Dyan Ng and optional beverage selections by Advanced Sommelier Julie Dalton.

It was just before the 2016 December holidays that I was invited to meet Celebrity Chef and founder of the Mina Group, Michael Mina, whose restaurant empire will hit at total of 30 restaurants in 2017 with his latest concept THE STREET in Hawaii. Mina is not a celebrity chef who spends time on television; he is a 3-time James Beard Award Winner who spends almost every day/night in one of his restaurants working with his chefs. It is his passion that the food, hospitality and surroundings fabricate a memorable experience. Chef Mina, “In this job and in this field, you have to love people. Not only do you need to love food, you have to love people,” and it shows in every nook and cranny at Wit and Wisdom.  Watch the video, slideshow and read the full story at my Dara Cooks Blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.


Monday, January 30, 2017

CaliBurger moves east to Maryland


The California franchise burger restaurant, CaliBurger has found a new home on the east coast, in Columbia, Maryland. All CaliBurger restaurants are franchised-owned and the franchise currently operating the restaurant in Columbia, MD, plans to add two more locations in the state next year. One will open in Annapolis at the Harbour Center, and a second in the northern Baltimore region where the company is actively looking for a location. Another 10 restaurants will open in the Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia areas.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sotto Sopra Restaurant's Friendship Covered Dish Party


Sotto Sopra Restaurant’s owner Riccardo Bosio is a true believer that breaking bread with others, sharing food, talking and listening to others is core to understanding and friendship no matter your cultural or religious background.  It is in that spirit of hospitality that he is inviting anyone who brings homemade food for 12 to 15 people to his Friendship Covered Dish Party Monday, January 30th at 7 pm at Sotto Sopra Restaurant at 405 N. Charles Street in Baltimore.  His staff is receiving a paid day off and the restaurant will close for the Friendship Covered Dish Party, an opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life; engage, share and smile.

Read the full story and get all the details on how you can join the party at the Dara Cooks blog at the PostExaminer.com 





Local Sagamore Spirit Whiskey stirring things up

The new Baltimore-based whiskey company Sagamore Spirit announced that will be the official spirit sponsor of Light City Baltimore which runs March 31 through April 8, 2017.  The events signature cocktail will be determined by a cocktail competition held by the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild.

Last year, the official Light City cocktail was the Blue Hour, created with Van Gogh gin, grapefruit liqueur, lime juice, cardamom bitters and tonic by B&O American Brasserie’s Eric Fooy. Sagamore Spirit will provide a local spin on the event’s signature drink this year, being a local whiskey brand with a growing footprint in the regional and national market.

You don’t have to wait until Light City Baltimore for a signature cocktail from Sagamore Spirit, they have created the Passing Game Punch just in time for your Super Bowl Party. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Snap out of the lunchtime blues: Brusco Luncheonette

Cava Mezze, my favorite “new Greek” restaurant, has a not-so-hidden secret luncheonette called Brusco inside that features sandwiches and salads, Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 3 pm. Brusco luncheonette is not quite Harbor East, located on Fleet Street in the Hyatt Place Baltimore – just follow the signs to Cava Mezze. If you haven’t found Cava Mezze or Brusco, it is time to search both out.

If you are anything like me, when I was an office worker, lunch offerings became quite boring and redundant.  Not so with Brusco luncheonette who is changing up their menu with new offerings on a regular basis, almost monthly.  Brusco’s blackboard tells all their luncheon choices with flavors from  Greece, Vietnam and regional American favorites.  Read the full story and watch the slideshow at my Dara Cooks blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Baltimore Chef Doug Wetzel competes on Chopped

This is a ride by post. When I say that, I'm just cutting and pasting the information.  Time is limited today but so happy to see Chef Doug Wetzel from Gertrude's back in action.  Here's the skinny from Gertrudes:



We are so excited that our own Executive Chef Doug Wetzel will be starring on The Food Network's CHOPPED on Tuesday, February 7 at 10pm in

A CHOCOLATE OBSESSION

Four Chefs start the competition but only 1 remains standing at the end.  Where will Doug be at the end of the show?  We'll all find out together.

JOIN US AT A VIEWING PARTY    

Join Doug and the rest of the Gertrude's team 
TUESDAY, FEB 7  9PM-11PM
300 W. 30th Street on the corner of 30th & Remington

Our friends at The Dizz, a favorite neighborhood bar and cafe have graciously offered to host our viewing party since they have big screen tvs on both levels.  There's no admission charge however food and beverages (adult and otherwise) will be available for purchase.  Come help us cheer Doug on.

LET US KNOW YOU WILL BE THERE:  Gertie @ Johnshields.com 

A CHOCOLATE OBSESSION is the perfect competition for Doug.  He started at Gertrude's 7 years ago as a Pastry Chef and his love of all things chocolate has done us proud!  We can't wait to see this competition and we hope you'll come join us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Something to wine about: Linganore Winecellars


Linganore Winecellars welcomes home 3rd generation winemaker The Mount Airy, Maryland Linganore Winecellars announces the addition of its third-generation winemaker, Melissa Aellen, to its wine making team.  Following in the footsteps of her father, Anthony Aellen, and grandfather, Jack Aellen, Melissa is excited to work side by side with her family in carrying on the legacy that began in the early 1970’s.  Melissa graduated from Cornell University in 2013 with a degree in Viticulture and Enology.  During her time at Cornell and after graduation, Melissa gained experience at several different wineries, including those in Indiana, Illinois, New York, Oregon, California, and New Zealand. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of wine making, from growing and harvesting grapes to the production and marketing of wine. For more information about Linganore Winecellars, go to http://www.linganorewines.com.

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