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Howard restaurants offering 'a chance to wow you' during winter promotion

For those in need of some motivation to brave the cold and leave the house in the next few weeks, Howard County’s winter Restaurant Weeks may be just the thing.

Beginning today and running through Feb. 5, 33 restaurants across the county are offering a variety of chef selections and menu deals as part of the county’s 10th annual Restaurant Weeks promotion. Deals range from $15 for a two-course lunch menu to $45 for a four-course dinner.

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With 10 new restaurants on the list, the event is sthe county’s largest winter Restaurant Weeks ever, iaccording to Sarah Kurtanich, Howard County Tourism’s director of marketing. The county’s tourism office puts on the event twice a year in the winter and summer, times when business tends to slow.

Kurtanich attributed the growth over the last decade to increased promotion by the tourism office and strong customer turnout during the weeks, which keeps restaurants participating year after year.

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While some restaurants offer more of a bargain to diners than others, Kurtanich said the weeks are a chance for people to experience a cross-section of Howard County’s food scene.

She encouraged people to try something new during the promotional event.

“Have fun with it,” Kurtanich said.

To celebrate the event’s 10th anniversary, the tourism office is holding a giveaway contest available to people who post photos from restaurant weeks on social media with the hashtag #HoCoRestaurantWeeks. The winner’s package includes an overnight stay at Turf Valley Resort, four gift certificates and an 18-hole round of golf for four.

One of the new restaurants participating this year is Lib’s Grille, which opened in Maple Lawn in December. The restaurant is the second Lib’s Grille in the area, adding to its original property in Perry Hall.

Lib’s Grille is offering diners pre-fixed menu options, including a three-course brunch and lunch, both for $15.18, and a three-course dinner for $30.18. Operational manager Nikolas Liberatore said restaurant weeks allow them to introduce more people to the restaurant, with the hopes of creating return customers. Liberatore said one of the major draws of opening a restaurant in Maple Lawn was to become the neighborhood’s go-to spot.

Liberatore’s own go-to item on Lib’s Grille’s menu is the heath bar bread pudding, available on both the lunch and dinner restaurant weeks menus. Other menu highlights include a crab benedict for brunch and a short rib rigatoni entree for dinner.

On Ellicott City’s Main Street, one of the newest players in the food scene is Georgia Grace Cafe, a Greek-inspired spot. Owner Paula Dwyer said she wanted to join in restaurant weeks to share her food with more people, and to try out some new menu items. The cafe will offer a breakfast bowl special for $9 as well as lunch combo options for $20, featuring a mezze platter or spanakopita appetizer, three entre options including a Hellenic crepe, falafel souvlaki or Greek salad, and desserts including baklava, tres leche cake or Greek butter cookies kourabiedes.

Howard County residents have dozens of recommendations for any occasion. Nearly 1,900 voted in our 2017 Best Restaurants readers’ poll, delivering winners in 46 categories.

“People love to come and shop locally and it was really important for me because I love to cook and share my food with people, I really wanted to do it locally,” Dwyer said. “I just wanted to be a part of the community.”

Another restaurant hoping to introduce new diners to their menu is vegan restaurant Great Sage in Clarksville. General Manager Scott Carberry said restaurant weeks are a chance for their staff to introduce more people to vegan foods.

He said the restaurant sees a “bump in our bottom line” from the promotional weeks, and gains new returning customers as a result. For restaurant weeks, Carberry said Great Sage will continue its focus on seasonal, locally sourced foods, including squash and kale, as well as vegan items such as “cheese” made out of potatoes and rosemary.

“Give us a chance to wow you,” Carberry said. “Give us a chance to expand people’s horizons, and restaurant week’s a great chance to do that.”

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A full list of participating restaurants can be found at www.hocorestaurantweeks.com.

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