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Dishing on dishes: The stories behind Baltimore restaurants' most intriguing tableware

Some shine. Others sparkle. And in some cases, they cost more than the scrumptious entrees they’re serving up.

For many restaurants and bars, their plates, glasses and flatware are more than an afterthought. They’re used to visually enhance the eating experience while subtly reinforcing the vibe.

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Chez Hugo

Chef Steve Monnier picked this plate pattern after narrowing down 20 choices. These plates appear to be broken and then re-glued with liquid gold for a dazzling display. There are only 12 in house, and they’re only used for the 10-course, $85 tasting menu, which is supposed to be eaten with your hands. "There’s no cutting allowed on these plates,” Monnier said.

Chez Hugo
Chez Hugo (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Blue Moon Cafe and Blue Moon Too

After years of mixing and matching plates she found everywhere from the Dollar Store to West Elm, owner Sarah Megan Simington said she picked these blue-hued plates for the obvious reason — the color. "When we opened Fed Hill, I realized maybe a more cohesive look would behoove the brand," she said.The plates are used at both locations.

Blue Moon Cafe and Blue Moon Too
Blue Moon Cafe and Blue Moon Too (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

La Cuchara

At the Basque restaurant in Clipper Mill, these blue-rimmed plates are used to serve rotating primeros (large appetizers) as well as in-shell shrimp and mushroom dishes. The restaurant has used the plates for the past two-and-a-half years, since co-owner Ben Lefenfeld found the Churchill plates for $13.10 per piece from a small supplier. The plate reminded Lefenfeld and his co-owner and brother, Jake, of Biarritz, France, a part of the Basque region the two visited in 2014 before opening the restaurant.

La Cuchara
La Cuchara (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

La Calle

Chef Valentino Sandoval immediately fell in love with the texture-rich, glass-etched rectangular plates and knew that they would be perfect for his smooth and creamy flan dessert. The opulent glassware was the right match for the "elegant" dish, he said.

La Calle
La Calle (Jerry Jackson / Baltimore Sun)

Charleston

At Charleston, the gourmet low-country restaurant where the six-course prix-fixe tasting menu costs $125, it should come as no surprise that its lauded offerings are served on Bernardaud, the French brand known for fine porcelain ($180 to $250 per plate), and a set of silverware from Sambonet ($312 for a set of cutlery and $50 each for cheese knives).

Charleston
Charleston (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

The Bluebird Cocktail Room

Glasses help to set the tone for the nationally recognized artisan bar. The coupe cocktail glass adorned with gold foil leaves is used for Manhattans and was purchased from an antique store in Frederick, and the absinthe glass came from one in Harrisburg.

The Bluebird Cocktail Room
The Bluebird Cocktail Room (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Gunther & Co.

Canton’s Gunther & Co. uses this $45 etched glass by Libbey Glassware for its Pear Pressure cocktail. In the summer, the glass will be used for cocktails on the patio.

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Gunther & Co.
Gunther & Co. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Linwoods

At Linwoods, these mustard-hued bowls are used for everything from the Brussels Caesar appetizer to the half portion of shrimp and grits. The bowls, which sell for $18 each, are made by Steelite International. They were chosen because they’re “bright and fun,” said dining room manager Caitlyn Bielec. “And we want our guests to have a fun time.”

Linwoods
Linwoods (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

The Bygone

Opulence is the name of the game at the throwback high-rise restaurant known for its panoramic views and Gatsby-inspired food and drinks. Easily one of the city’s most expensive restaurants, The Bygone has an array of dazzling pieces to complement the over-the-top vibe, from these regal bone china plates from Lennox ($28.96 to $78.56) to this gold-rimmed glass from Urban Bar.

The Bygone
The Bygone (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)
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