Weekend Recap…a little late

Weekend Recap…a little late, but we’re just rolling with it.

man vs pho

Friday: After a week of chilly rain, we were ready to warm up with some pho at Pho Saigon in Catonsville. We are huge fans of the ramen at Mi & Yu, but sometimes we just want the traditional pho and for that we always go to Pho Saigon. We started with summer rolls and then I had a small bowl with tofu and veggies which hit the spot. We spent the rest of the night watching old episodes of the Office (we’re re-watching the series) and I couldn’t stop laughing during “A Benihana Christmas” which is one of my favorite episodes.

Saturday: Nothing like waking up before 6am on Saturday morning. We piled into the car and drove to DC for Race for the Cure with my mom and cousin. Even though we registered ages ago, we never received our race packets which is why I am rocking the vintage shirt in that pic. Like every year, I was wowed by the celebratory nature of the event and the waves of people rocking their pink outfits.

race for the cure 2016

After the race and festivities, we walked up the street for brunch at Old Ebbitt Grill. I branched out and had the corned beef hash cakes with sunny side up eggs and breakfast potatoes with toast on the side. I can’t have gooey eggs without toast! My mom and cousin stuck to their usual orders: the fried oyster eggs benedict and the eggs Chesapeake which is a benedict with a crab cake. Even though we had to wait a longggg time for our food, everything was delicious as always and the potatoes were particularly crispy and fantastic.

Saturday evening we had friends over to watch the Kentucky Derby and we munched on a spread of snacks and sipped mint juleps. After the race and a few more rounds of drinks (and snacks) we walked to the 8×10 to see our friend’s band Slow Lights perform. The band was great and venue is small and bare bones which made for a great show.

slow lights 8x10 baltimore

Sunday: I celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom by getting dim sum at Oriental East down in Silver Spring. If you like dim sum or want to try it for the first time, you definitely should make the trip down for it. We waited an hour and a half for our table and it was well worth it – that’s how good it is! We enjoyed fried taro dumplings, shumai, spare ribs with black bean sauce and several other tasty dishes. The rest of the day was spend in true Sunday fashion – grocery shopping, gym, laundry.

Jack Birthday

And now it’s Tuesday and we’re celebrating our favorite furball’s third birthday. Happy Birthday Jack!!

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Ray’s: the Steaks

A couple of weekends ago we ventured across state lines to Virginia to see family. It was a long(ish) drive but worth it because they bribed us with the promise of a good steal. And they delivered.

I had been to Ray’s: the Classics and to Ray’s Hell Burger, two of the three restaurants originally started by restaurateur Michael Landrum, but had never before ventured to Ray’s: the Steaks. When we arrived, our party of nine was seated at a large table in a private space off the dining room. It was a little warm in there, but otherwise was really nice to have a room to ourselves.

We started with a round of drinks and I shared a bottle of pink cava with my mom and cousin. We were afraid it would be too sweet, but it was perfectly crisp and bubbly. After the important stuff was taken care of, we moved onto salads.

I had the wedge salad because wedge salads are decadent and fantastic and usually all I want at a steak place. This one did not disappoint, it was huge and had a bit of a kick to it which gave it a little something extra. I ended up sharing with my mom because well, look at the size of it.

rays the steaks ny strip

Next it was time for the pièce de résistance, the meat! Most people at the table got the filet (which they said was fab), but I’m not much of a filet girl  and went for the NY Strip. I got the classic cut with none of the offered sauces or preparations (thought I was tempted by the brandy mushroom cream sauce). It. was. delicious. Perfectly cooked and obviously a really high quality cut of meat. Their meals come with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach for the table which is a nice touch since so many steakhouses charge for those a la carte. I ended up bringing home half my steak and the remaining sides and had more than enough food for another meal.

There are plenty of tasty steak places in Baltimore (hello Prime Rib my love), but if you find yourself in Arlington, Ray’s: the Steaks is highly recommended!

Friday Five (Spoons Cafe)

If you’re looking for breakfast in Baltimore, Spoons is where it’s at. While I’m not a huge breakfast person (and am afraid to admit that I really don’t like brunch), I’ve enjoyed some amazing meals at Spoons lately and I feel like every time I go I learn a new tip or trick so I thought I’d share them for today’s Friday five!

  1. Go early! As I mentioned I…ahem…don’t like brunch, so I don’t mind an early get together on the weekends. Spoons can have upwards of a 30 minute wait and they don’t take reservations, so if you want to beat the crowds, try to arrive by 9:30am. Spoons Baltimore - Salted Caramel Latte
  2. Skip the coffee…go for the espresso drinks. Hello you beautiful salted caramel latte. The coffee is OK, but the lattes and chais are amazing.
  3. Speaking of lattes, you can get your drinks to go! If you’re looking for a quick morning caffeine hit, head straight to the coffee bar and order your espresso drink to go. It’s about the same price as Starbucks and more delicious because it comes from your neighborhood joint.                                   Spoons Cafe - ONuts
  4. Don’t skip the O-nuts. Worth every calorie, these powdered sugar covered gems are Spoons’ twist on a traditional beignet. Deep fried and DELICIOUS. They come in perfectly small portions too- get 3 or 6.
  5. Spoons doesn’t have serve liquor so if you’re looking for the kind of brunch where you stuff your face and pound bloody mary’s, this probably isn’t the place for you. They do serve wine and champagne so you can get mimosas and bellinis (an cheap ones at that!). Spoons does have their own twist on a bloody – Asian-inspired and made with sake. It’s not bad, but no substitute for the real deal.

You may notice that I didn’t even touch on the food and that’s because everything I’ve tried is delicious – you can’t go wrong! Most recently, we tried the hangtown fry: fried oysters over scrambled eggs with smoked paprika aoili. The oysters were fried perfectly and had amazing flavor that was enhanced by the mild sauce. They also have a build your own omelette or scramble option if none of the menu items are striking your fancy. I’ve designed myself a tasty egg white omelette chock full of veggies and gooey cheese. And the breakfast potatoes. For your choice of side, always go with the breakfast potatoes – so, so good! I mean, just look at that plate below. And wake up tomorrow morning and get yourself to Spoons. Stat.

Spoons Baltimore Fried Oysters

Spoons Cafe

Location: Federal Hill, 24 E. Cross Street

Highlights: Affordable breakfast entrees, sweet O-nuts and delicious espresso drinks.

Happy Friday and happy March Madness! Go Terps! And because it’s Friday, we’re linking up with Heather, Mar, Cynthia and Courtney.

New(ish) places around Baltimore

I have a tendency to eagerly track construction of new bars, restaurants and shops. I follow them on Facebook, make vague, sort-of plans to drop in with friends, gobble up reviews in City Paper, and check all-too-regularly for any additions to its Yelp page. And then, nothing.

The restaurant/bar/coffeeshop/boutique slowly fades from my memory or, more likely, is replaced by the next restaurant/bar/coffeeshop/boutique set to open in my ‘hood. Yeah, it’s not my best trait. So I’ve been trying to mix it up lately. Sure, I still have my regular haunts, but I’M WORKING ON IT, OK?

A few new(ish) places I’ve recently tried out:

BLUE MOON TOO. Blue Moon’s second shop opened a few months ago in Federal Hill, and I was lucky enough to get my Cap’n Crunch French Toast fix (topped with fruit and whipped cream) just before Jonas hit. So, so good and so incredibly sugary. The perfect comfort food for when you’re paranoid you’ll get snowed in without power and have to eat canned beans for a week.

DAS BIER HAUS. The site of the now-closed Langermann’s on Light has been replaced with a German biergarten-style restaurant. We dropped in a few weeks ago for a beer (bier?), and even though it had just opened, I was shocked by how packed it was. With communal tables and barely enough space to stand, you’d think I’d be complaining, but it actually kind of forced you to make friends. By the end of the night, I was sampling beer from some girls’ beer boot. You can judge whether or not that’s a good thing.

BREW HOUSE NO. 16. A historic-firehouse-turned-neighborhood-brewpub. You know, just your average restaurant reno. K and I popped in a few weeks ago for after-dinner-drinks. I’d read that the food was just OK, so we opted to grab pizza across the street and then stop in for a nightcap. The decor was what really stood out to me here: tall ceilings, Edison bulbs hanging above the bar, fermentation tanks lining the wall behind the barstools and yes, even the old fireman’s pole.

Next on my to-do listand because I’m writing it here I will ACTUALLY have to go: 3 Bean Coffee next to Federal Hill Park, Iron Rooster in Canton (I’ve been to the Annapolis location which was amazeballs but I’m counting this), Diablo Doughnuts in Fells Point.

Excited forBlacksauce Kitchen to open a restaurant in Remington, Yard House to come to the Inner Harbor.

Eating all the foods at Food Market

My favorite restaurants are the places where I can try a little bit of everything and leave without feeling like I’m going to explode (always a good goal, right?). I love tapas and the recent trend toward small plates and so does my husband, Adam. That is why we were so excited for Adam’s birthday dinner at The Food Market in Hampden. IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

Two things I like about Food Market right off the bat: free valet parking (the fastest way to win me over in a hard-to-park neighborhood) and the lively crowd. On a Friday night at 8pm, there was a great mix of young and old, families, couples and groups of friends.

We started with drinks and since I’ve been on a gin kick lately, I tried the French Tease, a delightful, lemony cocktail with gin and bubbly. I sipped my cocktail alongside bread sticks and olive oil and our first course: duck confit potato skin and kale caesar salad. The salad was particularly good, chock full of yummy toppings like brussels sprouts, bacon and crispy chickpeas. The portion was also quite large and perfect for sharing.

Food Market - Baltimore Kale Caesar Salad

Food Market 2 duck confit potato skin baltimore

We had a long debate about our second course and whether or not we should double up on fried foods. I was interested in the street tacos and tuna meatballs but Adam wasn’t feeling them, he was interested in the pork belly but it was made with pecans and I’m allergic. Ultimately, we decided we wanted the fried oysters and the tempura game hen and who cares if they’re both fried. I stand by our choice. The oysters were huge and delicious, perfectly paired with the bacon and onion dressing that accompanied them. The game hen was good too, like an upscale Bon Chon, lightly fried and sitting in a sweet and sour Korean bbq sauce. The price for our first four dishes ranged from $6-$13 making it very affordable to try many different flavors.

Food market 3 korean bbq game hen

food market 4 fried oysters

At this point in the meal, I was plenty full and could easily have stopped right there. But where’s the fun in that? This was a celebration after all. So I powered through, ordered a $6 glass of the house bubbles (served in the cutest stemless champagne flute, and tried the veal meatloaf with mushrooms, spinach and cheesy polenta. My goodness. It was so, so good. Up until this point the food had been good, but nothing really knocked it out of the park. This dish, however, was out of this world!

food market 5 veal meatloaf polenta

So there you have it, we tried five dishes on a long list of appealing sounding options (seriously, I could go back several times and find many more things to try). If you’ve looking for a lively restaurant that’s a lot of fun with an expansive menu and solidly good food – this is the place!

The Food Market

Location: Hampden, 1017 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

Highlights: Atmosphere, veal meatloaf, cocktails, service