You don't have to tell Brian Boston that the Highland Inn, his project near Clarksville in southwest Howard County, has been a long time coming.
"It's been a little frustrating," said Boston, the executive chef and operating partner of the acclaimed Milton Inn in Baltimore County.
But Highland Inn's opening really is getting closer. It will be open before the end of the year, in late November or early December, Boston said.
"Most of the inside is finished," Boston said. "The kitchen has been in for quite some time."
At the ceremonial ground-breaking for the project in April 2012, Boston said he was hoping to have Highland Inn open in July 2012.
But things didn't happen as fast Boston would have liked.
Boston attributed the delay partly to the normal surprises that hamper any construction project, and especially one involving — as this one does — an 1890s farmhouse.
Beyond that, Boston acknowledges that progress was slowed by budgeting problems and by unexpected bureaucratic hurdles. Boston said that Howard County's regulations weren't necessarily more stringent or arbitrary than those in Baltimore County, where the Milton Inn is located, just different.
Boston said that Highland Inn will be a "casual fine-dining restaurant," serving Low Country American food. It won't be as formal as the Milton Inn, Boston said, but it will still feel special. "We're hoping people can use us for special occasions but also for weekly visits," he said.
Barbecue on Union Hampden, which has wine bars, dive-y pubs, pasta bars and pizza palaces, is getting a barbecue restaurant. Blue Pit is on its way.
"I was walking to have dinner at the Food Market about a year ago, and I wanted barbecue," said David Newman, who will own Blue Pit with his wife, Cara Bruce. "I thought, 'There's no barbecue. I have to travel out of my neighborhood for it.' "
Bruce and Newman plan to have Blue Pit open by the spring at 1601 Union Ave., which has been home over the past few years to Ashberry Pub, Grey Goose Inn and Flips, all of which were leasing the building. Bruce and Newman are in the process of purchasing the 3,400-square-foot property, which sits across Union Avenue from Artifact Coffee.
Blue Pit will have a full bar — an application for a liquor license transfer was approved Oct. 10 — and will operate as a fast-casual restaurant, Newman said. Customers will order at a counter, and the food will be delivered to them. "I want to use metal trays," Newman said. "Texas-style."
Newman said the restaurant's name, Blue Pit, refers both to a barbecue pit and to the couple's blue pit bull, Naples. He said the back patio at Blue Pit will be a welcoming spot for the neighborhood's many dog owners, and bicyclists, too. "People can bring their dogs," Newman said. "We will be pet-friendly and bike-friendly."
"We were lucky to find a place in Hampden," Bruce said. "We love our neighborhood and our neighbors."
The Greek way One of Baltimore's favorite food festivals returns this weekend. The 42nd Annual Greek Food & Cultural Festival, held every year at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (24 W. Preston St., 410-727-1831, baltimoregreekfestival.org), is Friday through Sunday.
The festival has always featured great Greek food, both outside under the tents and inside in the basement level of the cathedral hall. You always got things like souvlaki, gyros, and calamari outside. And you always got the so-called "Aphrodite's Kitchen" menu — homemade dishes like pastitio, roast chicken and spanakopita, inside. This year, for the first time, you'll be able to get the Aphrodite's Kitchen menu outside, too.
Change is good. Just know that you'll still have to go inside to buy your Greek pastries.