August is historically a slow month for restaurants — that's why you see so many restaurant-week dining promotions scheduled for this month. August is also a slow month for food journalists, which is why you see so many restaurant-industry trend reports.

One that got a fair amount of play last week was a restaurant "census" published by a Chicago-based market research company that showed a 2 percent decrease in the country's total number of restaurants. The NPD Spring 2011 ReCount found that most of the losses were among independent restaurants, whose total count fell by 3 percent.


The same census found no net loss in the Baltimore area among either independent or chain restaurants. The total number of restaurants counted in the spring 2010 survey was 5,218 and in spring 2011 was 5,234.

Statistics showing Baltimore holding steady sounded right to Mike Evitts of the the Downtown Partnership. "That jibes with what we're seeing, restaurants continuing to stay strong in spite of the recession. We're seeing stalwart downtown Baltimore restaurants steadily attract customers, and we're seeing a series of new restaurants opening as anchors in new developments."

Notable closings, like those of Werner's and Burke's, get a lot of attention, but Evitts says that he's seen closed properties quickly reopen under new formats. Evitts pointed to the new Two Boots restaurant in Midtown-Belvedere as an example of a restaurant anchoring a residential property, a fairly recent development phenomenon.

Speaking of Restaurant Week: As always, a good number of participating restaurant-week participants have extended their fixed-price menus at least until this Saturday. Among the first to announce extensions were the Wine Market, Waterstone, B&O American Brasserie, Caesar's Den, Talara, the Owl Bar, Dogwood, the Rusty Scupper, Sabatino's, Marie Louise Bistro, Centro Tapas, Elkridge Furnace Inn and all four Ruth's Chris steakhouses. Aldo's is extending its offer through the end of August.

An up-to-date list of extenders is at

Baltimore County Restaurant Week, meanwhile is scheduled to run through Aug. 26.

Peaches: Last week's story on the classic Baltimore peach cake made the claim that the summertime treat was something that folks bought in bakeries but seldom, if ever, made in their homes. (It was, two of our testers said, a treat specifically for hot days when you didn't want to turn on your oven.)

That's true enough about the version topped with glazed peaches featured in the story. But we also described a "lost peach cake" that was sold in a few scattered bakeries but that has now vanished from view. This plain peach-topped version was made occasionally by home bakers.

I received recipe requests for both kinds — the one with glazed peaches and the one without. If you have a recipe you'd like to share please send it to: Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or email

Adults only: The DOVE Ice Cream truck will stop in Baltimore on Aug. 17 and 18. Here's the great thing about the DOVE truck — it's not for kids.

That's right, kids can't get near the place. The "adults-only" DOVE ice-cream truck will invite those 18 and older on board for a five-minute massage by a licensed massage therapist, a DOVE ice-cream bar and a free manicure.

"Most of us have vivid memories of the ice cream truck," said Craig Hall, general manager of Mars Chocolate North America. "DOVE Ice Cream is all about enjoying the moment, so we created a one-of-a-kind ice cream truck to help adults relive their childhood, but in a truly decadent, grown-up way."

The truck will be near the National Aquarium on Wednesday at 11 a.m and then at Light and Water streets at 4 p.m. On Thursday, the truck will be near the corner of Light and Water streets at 1 p.m. and at the corner of Broadway and Thames Street at 5 p.m.


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