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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Weekday Dining Deals at Cunningham's - Three Course Dinner - $39

Probably one of best upscale, quality dining spots in Baltimore County, if not the best is Cunningham’s. The surroundings are lush, warm and inviting, the service is on point – not intrusive, free interior valet parking and their cuisine is pure Americana with a couple nods to Italy. READ MORE and watch the slideshow at Baltimore Post Examiner Dara Cooks

Sunday, February 11, 2018

BROADWAY NIGHT IS BACK - 5 Course Italian Dinner & Live Performances

Hits songs from your favorite Broadway shows & 5 course Italian Dinner
Sotto Sopra Restaurant
Sunday, February 25th – 6 pm to 9 pm
Tickets:  410-625-0534

After the sellout crowd at Sotto Sopra Restaurant’s first Broadway Night we have been hearing  “encore, encore.”  In the words from the Broadway play Oliver, “Please sir, I want some more?” has been resonating.  Sotto Sopra listened and pulled together an amazing cast of performers for this unique February 25th Sunday evening of your favorite Broadway tunes from Cabaret, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserable, and even Dear Evan Hansen

An ideal evening of our award winning fine Italian cuisine interspersed with live performances of the songs that continue-to-this-day lighting up the Great White Way.  Sotto Sopra is located at 405 N. Charles Street, the archway to Baltimore’s cultural district. Reservations/tickets should be placed at (410)625-0534.

Be part of the evening’s festivities; you might even be inspired to dress as your favorite Broadway character. It will be an evening of great vocal performances by these amazing talents:

Jennifer Miller: A professional vocalist and vocal educator, Jennifer has her Masters in Music from the University of Michigan. She has performed in musicals the likes of Sound of Music, South Pacific, Little Shop of Horrors, Godspell, Will Rodgers Follies and the Man of la Mancha. Jennifer was the choral music teacher at Loyola Blakefield for 14 years, and acted as musical director for all musical productions. She is now in her 15th year of teaching music at the Children’s Chorus of Maryland. Jennifer has been guest conductor of the Maryland All-State Middle School Chorus, and clinician to music educators in Baltimore County.

George Wilkerson:  This tenor has extensive experience in opera and musical theater; most notably, performing the the roles of Beppe in I Pagliacci, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Bill in A Hand of Bridge, Donald in Gallantry, Professor Bhaer in Little Women: The Musical, Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Jake in Side Show. He holds the Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education (Instrumental), the Master of Arts degree in Music (Voice) and is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance. Mr. Wilkerson thoroughly enjoys his careers as a teacher, conductor, percussionist, and saxophonist and has taught band, choir, and applied voice for over 15 years.

Patricia McKewen Amato:  Amato’s  extensive experience includes duties as conductor, coach, and accompanist at the AIMS Institute in Graz, Austria, Brevard Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Peabody Institute, Cumberland Valley Chamber Orchestra, and the Young Victorian Theatre.   She served as assistant music director of the Baltimore Opera Company and music director of its touring company; music director/conductor for Annapolis Opera, Maryland Lyric Opera, Brevard Music Festival, Opera Americana, Washington Savoyards, Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and Rep Stage; and assistant conductor/chorus master for Washington Summer Opera and Opera AACC.  She holds a BM from the Catholic University of America (magna cum laude), a MM from the University of Houston (magna cum laude), and certificates in lieder, opera, and chamber music from The American Institute of Musical Studies, in Graz, Austria.      


Cream of Potato Soup with Crispy Bacon

Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil

Raspberry Sorbet

Pan-Seared Salmon with Red Pepper Tapenade & Roasted Vegetables

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Gelato

$58 per person
(live performances and 5 course dinner)
Excludes beverages, tax and gratuity

For tickets call  (410) 625 – 0534
Credit card guarantees apply

Sotto Sopra Restaurant is an award-winning Northern Italian Restaurant that has enjoyed success for over 21 years located on Baltimore’s historical byway Charles Street at the archway to the city’s cultural Mt. Vernon district.  It’s 19th century building’s dining room boasts tall ceilings, tile floors, gilded mirrors and a contemporary mural that depicts restaurant life.  

Thursday, February 01, 2018

16 on the Park Restaurant: Put it on your dining list

Dinner with a view at 16 On The Park, high atop the newly opened Residence Inn Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. Take the express elevator to the top floor, sixteen of course, not only offers up the great views of the city, the bar/dining room is filled with nooks and crannies for comfortable seating both indoors and outdoors.  

The restaurant is American themed, seafood focused.  A holiday party afforded me an opportunity to indulge in many offerings inclusive of their seafood tower:  lobster, oysters, shrimp, tuna poke and lump crabmeat. I was hard pressed to have to share this, but I did.

Read the full review and watch the slideshow at Dara Cooks at Baltimore Post Examiner 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A fictitious restaurant reaches number one status in London

Did you know you can buy fake reviews for TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc; you can buy followers/comments/shares for your social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  In fact, one fellow who wrote fake reviews decided to create a fake restaurant in London, The Shed at Dulwich.  You know what; it became London’s number one restaurant on TripAdvisor.  How could that be? Curiously, this scam was well documented and you can watch the video.

It makes you think twice about what you are reading  and those “influencers” who have created a persona online that has grown overnight by the thousands.  Being a senior influencer whose followers are all organic, it is interesting to watch this phenomenon as it grows.  Every day there are more food influencers turning up, asking for free meals --- they are like the Tribbles from the original Star Trek series multiplying exponentially. Many with large numbers are truly organic, but how do you tell what’s real and what’s fake?

Take this as a reminder that not everything is as it seems.      


Monday, January 22, 2018

Natural Sins - all natural crispy snack food

Yearning for a healthy, tasty and flavorful snack, healthier than that potato chip, consider Natural Sins ( Just two ingredients the fruit/vegetable and raw cane sugar: all products from Costa Rica.  Natural Sins tagged the product the Un Potato Chip because they are extremely crispy.  The packaging leaves no doubt what is inside the re-sealable bag, though more than likely you will eat all of the fruit or vegetable chips all at once. 

Fruits and vegetable sliced paper thin, so thin you can almost see through it, blended with raw cane sugar baked low and slow for an all natural crispy snack that is Natural Sins. This Non-GMO, kosher, gluten-free, vegan treat won me over after attaining samples at the Fancy Food Show.  Four selections are available:  Beet, Coconut, Mango and Pineapple, each 100 calories (with the exception of the coconut – 168).  The one ounce bag is addictive as all get out.  I practically inhaled the pineapple, leaving a little for the snapshots for this story. There are other dried fruits on the market, but nothing like this.  

Natural Sins are “a full-sensory snacking sensation that crunches like a chip without a crumb of regret.” Find a store near you

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


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