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, May 15, 2018

Apropoe's new spring menu tells a story

The Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel Apropoe’s restaurant and bar, plays tribute to the city’s most renowned author, Edgar Allen Poe.  Poe wrote mysteries, even a food-related short story, The Duc de L’Omelette , who ate an ortolan (a rare tiny bird, eaten whole in one bite) and then damned to hell’s fire. Apropoe’s story is different, if you partake of their comestibles, you will be heaven bound.

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

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

How will you celebrate National Shrimp Day

It is National Shrimp Day -- if I was going to pick a favorite for me, shrimp scampi with an artichoke is my favorite preparation next to a good shrimp salad sandwich. The scampi sauce is perfect to dip the artichoke leaves - rich, unctious, full of flavor.

Personally, I haven't met a shrimp I didn't like. What is your favorite shrimp preparation? 

Friday, May 04, 2018

National Hoagie Day! What's your favorite?

Hoagies, subs - no matter what you call these gutbuster sammies, they come overloaded. Today is National #Hoagie Day and on this day I salute Atlantic City's White House Sub Shop, in business since 1946. they have  the best Italian cold cut anywhere. The rolls are especially key, French baguette crunchy on the outside but a soft center. My first White House sub was in 1966. I never miss getting my Italian cold cut on each visit to Atlantic City.  

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Duck Duck Goose to replace 8 Ball Bar & Grill

Announced just yesterday on their Facebook page, Fells Point’s  8 Ball Bar & Grill is closing at 814 South Broadway.  The meatball centric restaurant and bar opened its doors February, 2016 which had previously been Tapas Adela. In their Facebook farewell notice they reminded folks, “to continue to shop local, eat local, BE local.”  There will be lots of specials happening building up to their grand finale on Monday, April 2nd.    

Chef Ashish Allfred
In a press release received yesterday comes the news that Bethesda Chef Ashish Alfred is bringing his popular French-style brasserie to Fells Point this summer in the same location.   Southern Living magazine named Bethesda’s Duck Duck Goose (DDG) Maryland’s best restaurant. 

Everything you want to know at this time is in the press release, so let me just paste it all for your edification and review.

“The new Duck Duck Goose will bring its fresh take on the classic French brasserie, focusing on seasonal ingredients prepared through simple, time-honored cooking methods. Guests will savour delicious, expertly-prepared cuisine spanning classical to modern Parisian influences. Chef Alfred has a simple description of his creations: “good food, done well.” As in Bethesda, guests will be treated to an unparalleled standard of service from the moment they arrive. But Alfred is adamant that the new Baltimore location isn’t going to be a clone no Duck Duck Goose, The Deuce here. Instead, he says it will have its own unique personality and flair.

Unique to Baltimore: the facility’s front and rear private outdoor patios, large centralized bar, and busy Fells Point locale, perfect for catering to locals and tourists. Chef Alfred plans to offer more small plate options than in Bethesda. The average entree is expected to cost less than $24. In peak times, Duck Duck Goose will accommodate about 85 people at 22 tables and the bar, plus more at the outdoor cafes. With its five-star location near the water and posh atmosphere, Alfred plans to tap into Fells Point sophisticated nightlife scene and serve food and cocktails late into the night. It will be the ideal place to start, enjoy and/or end the evening.

The culinary star has competed on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchenand Chopped. Chef Al, as he’s often called, ​ ​trained at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, and sharpened his skills in some of the best kitchens in NYC. He is the chef and owner of the Alfred Restaurant Group’s three restaurants (George’s Chophouse, also in Bethesda, is the third). Alfred opened Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda in 2016, and it quickly became the destination for casually elegant dining, fine wine tastings, weekend brunches and intimate, late-night cocktails.

Chef Al is also candid about his long running drug and alcohol addiction issues, which started when he was in his late teens. He credits his passion for creating recipes and cooking among the reasons he’s been sober now for three years. In addition, he’s named his latest restaurant after his late brother George, who was also critical in helping him find the road to sobriety.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Best place to slurp oysters on National Oyster on the Half Shell Day

Ok, there are a number of places to get your raw oysters on National Oysters on the Half Shell Day on March 31st BUT, how about free valet parking all day long, an amazing view and portions of the proceeds benefit Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.  Oysters are only $1.50 each and if you order a dozen, enjoy a glass of Prosecco for just $6.

You ask, OK, where is this place? It is 16 on the Park (the 16th floor), the Residence Inn Baltimore at The John Hopkins Medical Campus’ rooftop restaurant in Eager Park. Located at 800 N Wolfe Street, near Orleans Street, and again, let me stress free valet parking all day.  We might even be seeing spring that day, highs near 60 – enjoy the patio and the sunshine. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Spanish Paella Day

Paella flashback! In honor of today being Spanish Paella Day I submit to you, for your review, a paella I made for 40 people back in the days I worked in the kitchen at the Center for Hellenic Studies. Tapped into my big supply of saffron*, homemade chicken stock and went for it. chicken, shrimp, mussel - no peas, why - because I don't like peas. The pan was so heavy that someone had to lift it to the buffet. Success was gauged by the two Spanish women who worked there who said it was one of the best paellas they had ever had. I think they were kissing up so they could take leftovers home with them. I don't believe I've made paella since.

*From my days working at Vanns Spices.

Have you made paella, if so, what do you like to put in your paella?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

It's National International Waffle Day


Food memory:  This tasty tidbit is the Not Your Mama's Shortcake Belgium Waffle at the Iron Rooster in Hunt Valley. I was awarded yet another gold star in the clean plate club.  Ice cream, waffle, strawberries and whipped cream - you would clean the plate as well.  So if you are brunchng this Sunday, feel free to indulge!

Friday, March 16, 2018

MY SHIP- Songs from 1941 Cabaret comes to Baltimore

 New York’s Cabaret MAC Award Winner
Dawn Derow’s  docks “My Ship” at Sotto Sopra
Sunday, August 8th – 6 pm to 9 pm

Cabaret at its best – MY SHIP has won accolades from New York City audiences this past fall and for a “one night only” performance, singer extraordinaire Dawn Derow and her pianist, Ian Hermann, will perform the award winning show at Sotto Sopra Restaurant. Step back in time and listen to Dawn Derow’s renditions of 1941’s Hit Parade interspersed with a five course, fine dining Italian dinner from Sotto Sopra.

The reviews are in, MY SHIP ~ Songs from 1941 - “Dawn Derow’s show exceeds and changed my opinion of cabaret singers. This isn’t just a cabaret, but a fabulous one women show.” - Suzanne Bowling - Times Square Chronicles. “The title song of the show, “My Ship” (Kurt Weill, Ira Gershwin), which she sings far better than Gertrude Lawrence ever did… “ - Robert Windeler from The Bistros

Tapping into the top hits of 1941 with songs like "Chattanooga Choo Choo", " Boggie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "The White Cliffs of Dover," Dawn Derow's "My Ship" explores the emotional climate of America as it entered WWII and opens our minds and heart to the women of that era, whether they were a 'Rosie the Riveter', a housewife raising children alone, a USO entertainer, or a nightclub singer. Derow revisits the music that comforted and uplifted a nation until there was peace "At Last."


Boston Lettuce Salad
Gorgonzola cheese/pomegranate seeds/Champagne vinaigrette/balsamic glaze

Asparagus Risotto
with scallop /orange brown butter

Mango Sorbet

Duck Confit
With mashed potatoes/broccolini/demi-glaze

Vanilla & Orange Cheesecake
with raspberry sorbet

$62 per person
(includes 5 course dinner & live cabaret show)
Excludes beverages, tax and gratuity

Tickets/Reservations: 410 625 0534
Watch Dawn perform songs from MY SHIP

DAWN DEROW: A graduate from Boston Conservatory with a degree in Music: Vocal Performance & Opera Emphasis. Since moving to New York, she has performed in various clubs such as Birdland, The Metropolitan Room The Cutting Room, Don’t Tell Mama, The Friar’s Club and Carnegie Hall, as part of “Cole Porter’s 125 De-lovely Celebration.” Dawn won a 2015 MAC award for her work in the duo show REVOLUTION. Her album MUSIC 4 TWO with guitarist, Sean Harkness won for her a 2014 MAC Nomination for album of the year and in 2016 Bistro Award for Outstanding Vocalist for LEGIT: a Classical Cabaret.

IAN HERMAN: He began his musical career studying classical piano. At the age of thirteen he was a guest soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. After attending Manhattan School Of Music, Ian began working with performers including Jane Olivor, Donna McKechnie, Anita Morris, Judy Kaye, Tom Andersen, Karen Mason, Sharon McNight,Marilyn Sokol, Angela LaGreca, Carole Demas, and Joy Behar in nightclubs in New York and around the country. In 1999 he received the Backstage Bistro Award for best Musical Director. He was a pianist and vocal coach at the Broadway revival of Grease, working with guest stars such as Al Jarreau, Jon Secada, Sheena Easton, Chubby Checker, and Darlene Love. His other Broadway credits include “Jelly’s Last Jam”, “The Who’s Tommy”, “Song And Dance”, and “Swing”, for which he wrote vocal and dance arrangements. and “Laughing Room Only” with Jackie Mason. Recently he performed a concert with guitarist Sean Harkness, celebrating their new CD “DUET”, consisting of all original music.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

7th Annual Taste of Pikesville


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27TH - 5:30 pm to 8 pm

Suburban Club
7600 Park Heights Avenue - Baltimore MD  21208 

This casual night of food, festivity and fun highlighting Pikesville will feature signature dishes from 45+ restaurants and caterers, along with complimentary beer, wine and cocktails, music, raffle prizes and other surprises. Approximately 350 guests are expected.

Here is a small selection of participating restaurants:  Citron, Cravin, Mezcal, La Food Marketa, Linwoods, Ruth's Chris Steak, Island Quizine, Mr. Chan, Eggspectation, Gourmet Again, Bonefish

Proceeds from the Taste of Pikesville will support the Baltimore Hunger Project a 501(c) 3 non-profit charity that feeds hungry children on weekends during the school year. The remainder will support the Chamber’s efforts to improve Pikesville to attract more people and businesses to the area.

Friday, February 23, 2018

New culinary options at Baltimore Washington International Airport

I’m not as old as the Wright Brothers, but I do remember when Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport was Friendship Airport.  It was a time when one dressed up to travel; ladies in dresses, high heels, and white gloves not pajamas and slippers that I’ve seen recently. We could go outside onto the observation deck and watch the planes taxi and take off.  Meals were served on flights, definitely not haute cuisine, but more than the bag peanuts or pretzels offered today by the airlines. 

I remember a trip to Paris with my friend, a caterer, who beautifully packed up meals tied with multicolored ribbons to eat on the plane and sharing the remains of cheese from Paris’s street markets on the flight home.  Those days are gone!

Check out the full story and slideshow at the Dara Cooks column at Baltimore Post Examiner

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New hardy winter dishes at the BoatHouse in Canton

Canton’s waterfront restaurant, the BoatHouse, is way more than that beautiful waterfront view and al fresco dining.  The restaurant boasts an active bar and multi level dining rooms.  The BoatHouse is the full package: lunch, happy hour, dinner and brunch on the weekends.  

Check out the new menu items, slideshow and puppy pop-up at Dara Cooks at Baltimore Post Examiner

Santé: A Culinary Odyssey

Thursday, March 15th - 6 pm to 10 pm

American Visionary Art Museum
800 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230

With over 300 guests anticipated, this business casual evening will feature tastings from 25 of Baltimore’s best restaurants, caterers and chefs, paired with enticing beverages. To date some of the participating vendors include B&O American Brasserie, Cunningham’s, The Food Market, Natasha’s Just Brittle, Alexandra's American Fusion, Libs Grill, Lotz of Sweets, George Martins Grillfire, Honey Hive Bakery, Copper Kitchen, Maryland Club, Richardson Farms, Little Havana, Tagliata, Sandy Bottom Sparkling Rum Cocktails and Baltimore Whiskey Company.

Adding to the fun will be celebrity judges, the People’s Choice competition, live entertainment and a silent auction featuring sports memorabilia, dining, entertainment, local art, spa, health and fitness, and vacation packages. Guests also can bid on one-of-a-kind experiences in the live auction.

Santé was one of our most popular events and we are delighted to bring it back as a fun way for foodies and others alike to celebrate and have a great time,” said Pattie Dash, executive director of the National Kidney Foundation Serving Maryland and Delaware. “The event also puts the spotlight on kidney disease, which affects 1 in 9 Marylanders, and takes more lives than breast and prostate cancers.”

Sumeska Thavarajah, MD (chair of the Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board and assistant professor of medicine – Division of Nephrology at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center) is the Santé event chair, while Ben Simpkins ‎CEC CCA WCC (executive sous chef - ‎Baltimore Country Club, 2018 Northeast Region Chef of the Year - American Culinary Federation and kidney transplant recipient) is returning to chair the Restaurant Recruitment Committee.

Proceeds from Santé will support the Foundation’s local patient emergency assistance program, providing essentials such as medication, food, transportation to dialysis, housing costs and utilities. Dollars raised also help fund vital research from the top nephrologists at Johns Hopkins Medicine and University of Maryland Medical Center.

Admission to this business causal event is $100/person or $2,500 for a table of 10.To purchase tickets or tables and/or to receive sponsorship, vendor participation or auction donation information, visit 

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


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