British comedian John Oliver rang in the new year with a Baltimore dining tour — chowing down at Hersh’s just after midnight and enjoying a New Year’s Day brunch at Alexander’s Tavern.
Hersh’s owner and chef Josh Hershkovitz said his longtime friend who works with major comedy tours brought Oliver and friends for a smorgasbord of food around 12:45 a.m. Monday. The “Last Week Tonight” host was in town for four shows at the Hippodrome Theatre.
“Generally, we’re not a party spot,” Hershkovitz said, adding that the South Baltimore restaurant typically closes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. But after hearing about the comedian, Hershkovitz immediately thought, for “John Oliver and his entourage — yeah, we can stay open for that.”
“They ate, drank and had a good time,” he said. Hershkovitz said Oliver ordered the Il Muffaletta pizza — a take on the New Orleans’ Muffaletta sub, which includes hot peppers, an olive spread, and several types of meats — and a wood-fired chestnut pancake, which was accompanied by sweetened ricotta and orange caramel.
Hershkovitz, who attended Oliver’s comedy show Monday night thanks to Oliver, said this isn’t the first time a celebrity has come to his restaurant. Sometimes, Ravens players dine there, too.
“We leave them alone for the most part,” said Hershkovitz, who added that it’s important for Hersh’s to provide a quality experience for people who are often surrounded by people and fans.
“Like anybody, they just want to eat and have a good time.”
But Hershkovitz said he couldn’t help but express his fandom for Oliver’s HBO show.
“I was kicking myself after. I said something to the effect of ‘I’m your biggest fan.’ I love what he does. You don’t see a lot of comedy that riles you up,” said Hershkovitz, who said he explained to Oliver that sometimes he has to pause the show because he’s laughing so hard. “I don’t want to miss anything.”
Hershkovitz said the restaurant strives to be socially active, and the staff was honored to have Oliver as a guest.
“He’s a champion of ours. He’s pointing all sorts of stuff and getting people to stand up and take action. … That philosophically jives with us, too.”
And it looks like Oliver made his way to another Baltimore restaurant this past week. The TV host visited Alexander’s Tavern for brunch on New Year’s Day and even signed a menu, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
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