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Food & Drink

Bits & Bites: Baltimore Restaurant Week begins alongside Black Restaurant Week, Urban Burger Bar says goodbye, power outage hits Monkton farm

At a time of historically high inflation, summer sales are a welcome reprieve.

With so many people on vacation, stores and restaurants are luring customers and diners in with specials and discounts. (To see what I mean, take a lap through Towson Town Center. The prices are so low, you’ll think it’s 2019.)

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This week, I’ll have information on restaurant promotions that will appeal to your inner bargain hunter. I’ll also tell you where to pick up some excellent pies and Cronuts in Baltimore, and share news about a highly publicized burger joint and a power outage that disrupted operations for at least one Baltimore County farm.

Baltimore Restaurant Week begins July 22

Baltimore’s Restaurant Week, co-sponsored by the Downtown Partnership and Visit Baltimore, has been a bit wobbly during the pandemic as participants have dodged various waves of the coronavirus.

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But this summer it’s heating up with a lineup of new and returning participants including foodie favorites like Sally O’s and Hampden’s Food Market.

“It was a no-brainer to do it again,” said Sally O’s owner Jesse Sandlin, whose Highlandtown restaurant participated in the most recent winter restaurant week, and says it was a very busy time for the Gough Street spot. Through the end of the month, she’ll offer a generous 3-course meal for $35, with entrees like pan roasted rockfish and starters like summer melon gazpacho with lobster. (Don’t forget about dessert. Sandlin, who got her start in the kitchen at Ann’s Dari-Creme in Glen Burnie, makes wonderful ice cream.)

In keeping with a trend that began during the pandemic, there’s no one-size-fits all at this summer’s restaurant week, with different businesses offering menus at $25, $35 or $45, not including tax and tip, from July 22-31.

Half the fun of Restaurant Week is checking out some of Baltimore’s newer businesses that you might otherwise have missed, including Sunga’s Cafe, where you can buy cupcakes sprinkled with 24k gold flakes. Try Dudley Road Barbecue in Little Italy, which is snapping up fans with its smoked ribs, brisket and chicken. Or reacquaint yourself with Foraged, which relocated to Station North during the pandemic.

Black Restaurant Week underway

Black Restaurant Week LLC is coming to the Baltimore region to promote the city’s Black-owned establishments. Participants at the event, which runs through July 31, include Sporty Dog Creations, Cloudy Donuts and many others.

Founded in 2016 to highlight African American, African and Caribbean cuisine, Black Restaurant Week has made major grants to Black-owned businesses in the Baltimore area through its Feed the Soul organization, including $30,000 last year to eatery Fishnet in the Mount Vernon Marketplace and Pigtown pub Old Major. This year, Pikesville-based Deedle’s Mini Donuts and the city’s England Eatery both received $20,000.

That money helped England Eatery pay for the buildout at their new location at 1423 W. Baltimore St., said co-owner Mahoganie Brown. The space is set to open within the next few months, barring supply chain headaches. “Our hood is on backorder,” Brown said.

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In the meantime, you can check out England Eatery at the Greenmount Collective at 33rd and Greenmount. Their signature dish: a cheddar biscuit stuffed with jumbo lump crab.

For Brown, Black Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to sample other Black-owned restaurants in Baltimore. “There’s a lot of great food out there.”

Bye to Urban Burger Bar

The burger stall at Whitehall Mill from owner Jasmine Norton will close July 30. Norton had previously told me that The Urban Burger Bar would continue to operate at least until the launch of the new Urban Oyster on Hampden’s Avenue, though that location is now set to open this fall.

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“What started out as a fun farewell in our last pop up at R. House in 2019 became a staple in the city for nearly two years at Whitehall Market,” Norton wrote in a post on Instagram. The stall, which serves burgers, amazing fries and milkshakes, has been featured in the Cooking Channel’s Food Paradise, Real Simple Magazine and USA Today.

Developer Terra Nova Ventures is looking for new vendor to take Norton’s spot. The businesses’ departure marks another change at the Hampden food hall. Amanda Mack announced that she will relocate her popular Crust By Mack bakery to Midtown-Belvedere, while Homebody General Store also left this year, with Gundalow Gourmet expanding into its space.

Farming without electricity

Among those who lost electricity during a storm last week: Monkton’s Karma Farm. “We’re getting by but this is what farming must have been like during the stone age,” owner Jon Shaw wrote in a newsletter emailed to customers of the farm’s CSA program.

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The power went out Tuesday afternoon and didn’t come back until Sunday evening. Without refrigeration, the farm lost some inventory of beans, eggs and radicchio, however Shaw said he was able to power the farm’s well by hooking up a generator he had at home.

Also in the dark: John Brown General & Butchery. “Literally and figuratively left in the dark for six days without power dealt a massive blow to our inventory, staff hours and revenue,” said an Instagram post for the Falls Road store and cafe.

Over 60,000 customers lost power in the storm, with most in Harford, Carroll and northern Baltimore counties.

What I’m eating right now

Over the weekend I scooped up a scandalously decadent single-serve key lime pie from Dulceology Bakery at 1138 S. Charles St. in Federal Hill. Encased in a buttery crust, the tartness of the lime was tamed by a sweet-but-not-too-sweet meringue on top. I made a mental note to return for their sumptuous-looking Cronuts which come in flavors like blueberry cheesecake and peaches n’ cream. Dulceology is also known for its wide variety of tasty alfajores, which feature creamy dulce de leche sandwiched between two crumbly cookies. Try the pistachio.


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