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, May 19, 2017

Seafood bonanza: By the Docks



By the Docks, a Middle River restaurant, a prominent fixture on Eastern Boulevard, has been recognized and awarded numerous accolades for Baltimore’s Best Crab Cake.  Is it the best, many will agree that the large, lump  Blue Swimming crabmeat cake, broiled to golden brown perfection reigns supreme.  By the Docks’ crab cakes are so popular that you can now have them shipped to anywhere in the contiguous United States. 

Read more and watch the slideshow at my Dara Cooks Blog on Baltimore Post Examiner. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New Pappas Sports Bar in recently renovated Holiday Inn Inner Harbor

Located in the heart of downtown Baltimore, a short walk from Baltimore’s Convention Center, Camden Yards, and Royal Farms Arena is the Holiday Inn Inner Harbor at 301 W. Lombard Street.  Along with the refreshed 365 rooms are the common areas including the lobby, lounge, coffee and gift shop serving Baltimore’s own Zeke’s Coffee, business center, indoor pool, event space including the 4,000 sq. ft. Chesapeake Ballroom and notably a new restaurant, Pappas Sports Bar.  Yes, Baltimore, one the contenders for the Best Crab Cake in Baltimore, Pappas will be offering their award-winning crab cakes to visitors and locals alike in their first downtown location.


“For decades, this iconic hotel has graced the Baltimore skyline, and welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests.  The renovations are extensive – it looks and feels like a brand new property and we couldn’t be happier,” said Adam Novotny, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Inner Harbor. “We know our guests and meeting attendees will appreciate a higher level of comfort and exceptional service delivered by our outstanding team.”

Friday, May 12, 2017

New bar bites and crafted cocktails at Bonefish Grill


Bonefish Grill calls it their Hand-Crafted Happy Hour because they feature their $5 Hand-Crafted Martini and Cocktails the likes of the Raspberry Vodka Collins with Tito’s vodka, Blueberry Lemon Drop with Absolut Citron, Tropical Tiki Martini with Captain Morgan rum, and Fresh Margarita with Dimeca Altos Tequila.  There are other libation specials: $1 off draft beers, $4 House Wines and select spirits $5. The Raspberry Collins was a bit strong for my companion, but the Tropical Tiki Martini was enjoyed by both of us. The Tropical Tiki Martini was a refreshing blend of island flavors and not to overly sweet.

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

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Nickel Taphouse keeps brunch hot with Nashville Hot Fried Chicken


If I rave on about the Nickel Taphouse Brunch it is because there is so much that is good.  Yes, I was invited in as their guest to taste their new brunch menu items, to spread the Nickel Taphouse Brunch good word, but I fell in love with numerous brunch offerings, especially the Nashville Hot Fried Chicken with French toast.  They take a couple liberties with the traditional Tennessee recipe rather than Tabasco or Texas Pete they use honey Sriracha for that sweet hot bite of flavor which is counterbalanced with the cool, airy, whipped cream on their French toast. It was so good, I have had sense memory flashbacks and I find myself licking my lips.  

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

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Spring has sprung on new menu: B & O American Brasserie


TIS the season where menus change featuring what the farmers, the waterways and ranchers are featuring.  Always a joy to go back to the B & O American Brasserie and see and taste their new menu offerings by Executive Chef Scott Hines and his culinary crew.  Chef Hines explained the menu has been trimmed down as he did with the fall/winter menu, but with dishes we all know, with his updated embellishment.  Take his Wedge Salad, it looks somewhat traditional with blue cheese, then again, add the guanciale, tomato salt and white balsamic ranch and it is taken a level above the traditional Wedge Salad or the Meatballs in Sunday Gravy – these are mortadella and foie gras meatballs.
Read the full story on my Dara Cooks blog on Baltimore Post Examiner


Chesapeake Farm to Home launches Baltimore's first online farmers market

Chesapeake Farm to Table just launched a new online farmers market for residential customer with delivery to three culinary partner pickup locations in the Baltimore Metro Area: Culinary Architecture, Remington Wine Company and Towson Tavern will be the weekly pick up locations. Chesapeake Farm to Home offers the same quality, fresh, local produce, honey, meats and dairy items to the home consumer.

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

If you missed the first one - Underground Kitchen is back!

The popular supper club that originated in Richmond, Va. and later expanded into the Mid-Atlantic will make its return to Maryland. On May 22, Underground Kitchen, the ultra-luxe, super-secret, pop-up dining society featuring buzzed about chefs, unconventional locations, and tickets that routinely sell out within minutes, comes to Baltimore/Stevenson.

Read the full story and watch the slideshow at my Dara Cooks blog at Baltimore Post Examiner.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Harbor Market returns to McKeldin Square

Waterfornt Partnership’s pop-up food marketplace, Harbor Market, returns for another summer season of lunch time culinary adventures.  Starting May 5, Harbor Market will be at McKeldin Square every Wednesday and Friday from 11 am to 2pm. Locals and visitors alike can partake of a good cross section of culinary choices:

·         Dobby’s
·         Smoking Swine
·         Green Bowl
·         Mex on the run
·         Sobo Café
·         Dizzy Cow
·         Greek on the Street
·         Gypsy Queen
·         Ekiben
·         Bon Fresco

Forget that tired old yoghurt or tuna sandwich, live large and eat well!



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Taste of Pikesville is back for the 6th year

Personally, I’m looking forward to 6th Annual Taste of Pikesville on Wednesday, April 26th from 6:30 to 9 pm – each year it gets bigger and better with over 45 plus restaurants and caterers participating with signature dishes to taste.  Not to worry about beverages, there will be beer, wine, and cocktails for those who care for an adult beverage.  This enjoyable event takes place at the Double Tree by Hilton, Baltimore North-Pikesville at 1726 Reisterstown Road at the Beltway. General admission tickets are only $48 – purchased in advance and $55 at the door.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Marco's Pizza franchise debuts in central Maryland

Local residents in Anne Arundel County, Brian Bogard and his wife Beth, have selected Lakeshore Plaza in Pasadena as the location for their inaugural Marco’s Pizza in Maryland.  The Lakeshore Plaza location at MD Route 100 and Magothy Beach Road opened earlier this month. The couple plans to open a total of six locations throughout Anne Arundel and Howard County within the next couple years.
 
Brian Bogard, a former officer in the US Army, served as Company Commander of the Food Service training center at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and his wife Beth, a former caterer, understands a quality product.  It was a visit with relatives in West Virginia, where the Bogards first tasted a Marco’s Pizza, and it was love at first bite. 

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





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