If there's a great view of Fourth of July fireworks from your restaurant, why not make a party out of it? And if you've got an absolutely amazing view and can get away with charging a premium, I say go for it. It's the American Way. These restaurants really do have a view worth the trouble:
•The Rusty Scupper (402 Key Highway, 410-727-3678, selectrestaurants.com/rusty) hosts its annual Fourth of July celebration from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in its Topside Lounge and upper-deck areas. The party features an all-you-can-eat crab feast, drink specials and giveaways, and a great view of the Inner Harbor fireworks. The food includes jumbo male crabs, steamed peel-and-eat shrimp, hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, barbecue ribs, Maryland crab soup, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, a variety of salads, assorted desserts and watermelon. The cost is $89.95, $35 for age 10 and under. Reservations are recommended, and guests who make reservations have their table for the entire five hours and can come and go as they please.
•The Wine Market (921 E. Fort Ave., 410-244-6166, winemarketbistro.com) is offering fireworks, food and fine wine at its Fourth of July picnic on the patio. Chef Wilbur Cox is preparing an optional $30 prix-fixe menu with seasonal items like green-melon gazpacho, crab-and-avocado salad and crispy-skin Maryland rockfish. Adults can cool down with watermelon-margarita snowballs while the kids play lawn games. The restaurant is offering a 25 percent service-member discount. Of course, there's a great view of the fireworks.
•Wit & Wisdom (200 International Drive, Four Seasons Baltimore Hotel, witandwisdombaltimore.com) is offering a culinary smorgasbord, with food stations providing slow-roasted whole pig, classic hot dogs and Rappahannock oysters on the half-shell. Passed hors d'oeuvres, sides and desserts will also be offered. A Bruce Springsteen cover-band will rock all night, and fun activities for the whole family, including face painting and temporary tattoos, will also be available. The cost for the event is $75, $20 for children age 12 and under.
New in Mount Washington Blue Sage Cafe and Wine Bar opened on June 1 in the Kelly Avenue space that was formerly The Falls (and before that, Freida's Kitchen, and for years before that, the Mount Washington Food Market).
Ricky Johnson, the bar and front-of-house manager at Blue Sage, filled me in on the details. The owner is Matt Lallo, a recent transplant to Baltimore from Philadelphia, where he owned several restaurants, including the Purple Sage. Lallo and his wife moved here a few years back to be closer to their grandchildren.
The menu, Johnson said, is "global," which often means a lack of focus, but I took a look at Blue Sage's menu. It actually looks pretty good. I'd describe it as ... global. "Dinner sandwiches" include a banh mi, lamb kofte and tuan diavolo. Main courses, which run in the mid-teens, include a tarragon cream-chicken pot pie, and Thai chicken and shrimp. There are Roseda Farm beef burgers and Gunpowder Falls bison burgers, and a section of Persian-style barbari bread pizzas.
Johnson, who was the bar manager at The Falls, said he's worked on putting together an interesting but affordable beverage program. In an email exchange, he wrote, "As a bartender, I believe people should get their money's worth out of a drink, and the beer, wine, and cocktails are all priced to encourage people to be able to try different things in one visit."
Blue Sage is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Johnson said lunch service will start this month.
Blue Sage is at 1604 Kelly Ave. in Mount Washington. For information, call 443-438-9417 or go to blue-sage-cafe.com.
Back from the fire There was good news in Federal Hill last weekend. Regi's American Bistro (1002 Light St., 410-539-7344), which was damaged by an early-morning electrical fire on April 10, reopened Friday. Regulars will notice a new ceiling fan, lighting fixtures and other cosmetic changes to the bar side of the double-rowhouse restaurant. Owner Alan Morstein describes the improvements as a general "buffing up." Audiel Vera, formerly of the Kali's Restaurant Group, is the restaurant's new head chef.
Ruth's chris expansion Ruth's Chris (711 Eastern Ave. 410-783-0033, ruthschris.com) has enjoyed a good long run the Pier 5 Hotel — the steakhouse has anchored the hotel's main restaurant space since 2005.
But nothing ever seemed to fly in the hotel's smaller restaurant space. The Peacock Grill, Pizzazz Tuscan Grill and My Panini have come and gone. But that smaller space has an amenity that Ruth's Chris didn't — a waterfront deck.
Now, Ruth's Chris at Pier 5 has taken over both the cafe space, which it will be using as a banquet facility, and the adjoining deck, which it has spruced up with comfy furniture.
The Ruth's Chris bar menu will be served on the deck, which will be open Wednesday through Sunday nights. Think prime burger with fries, oysters on the half shell and tenderloin skewers, with happy-hour discounts from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (The full Ruth's Chris menu will be available on the deck only by special request.) A calypso band will play on Thursday and Saturday nights.