Sunday, December 30, 2012


Birroteca has been open for a few months in Hampden, on Clipper Road. We've passed it a ton but never stopped in before last month. It seemed unapproachable before they paved the parking lots. Prior to this face lift and new ownership the place just seemed, honestly, kind of sketchy. I don't even know why, but my perception was that it was unapproachable and seemed like a scary . New paint and asphalt has made all the difference. Good thing they have directions on how to enter. You would think that the entrance is from the Clipper Road side, but no. The front of the building is on the Falls River side, not the road.

When you turn the corner, you are welcomed by our local stone details so prevalent up and down the Falls River.

Robbin Haas is the owner and walked me through the space. I adore a good charcuterie plate and this new restaurant doesn't disappoint in it's cured meats. They make everything in-house.

We came early enough that we got a primo location overlooking the Garde Manger side of the bar where the charcuterie platters are assembled.

The space is warm and cozy with ambient lighting, nice banquets and a large square bar that is the heartbeat of the restaurant.

There is a small dining room downstairs and larger area upstairs.

We split a gorgeous kale salad and sausage pizza.

They have E-worthy beers on tap.

On my tour of the back-of-the-house I saw their much Tweeted about Mussel pizza. You can even follow them on Instagram for drool induced photos. 

You can take the catering director out of the kitchen but you can't take the kitchen out of the catering director. The kitchen really is still my favorite place to visit in a restaurant. It's like a secret window into the soul of each dining establishment. I think that is why so many restaurants have open kitchens now in their design. You can watch the drama and choreography unfold before you. This kitchen is upstairs in this restaurant, a few steps from the man dining areas. The wait staff must get a great workout.

The pizza is very popular and the crust is fantastic. We have so many great places to eat wonderful pizza in Baltimore. This new kid on the block is dangerously close to Stone Hill Farm and boasts delicious flavor profiles on their pizza pies. Chazz: A Bronx Original has a damn good crust, so it really is a "toss" up for me. But Birroteca isn't just a pizza joint. It is a mix of gastro pub and Italian enoteca. 

Robin Haas and Cyrus Keefer make a great leadership team. Chef Keefer came from Nage in Rehobeth and 1542 Gastro Pub in Federal Hill. Haas jumped on the chance to be closer to friends and family with a lease to purchase option for this location all the way from Guatemala, via New York. It's addition to the neighborhood is increasing our property value and waste lines. Along with all of the work at Mill No. 1 we are going to be in culinary heaven with Woodberry Kitchen, Gertrude's, Artifact Coffee, The Food Market, and Birroteca all within a mile of our home. At least we can walk off the calories.

Robbin literally fed me the boar bolognese as we were in the kitchen. It was heavenly.  

Squash stuffed ravioli with sausage and Brussels sprout leaves also looked amazing. What a nice nod to winter.

When we stopped in the upstairs was still undergoing space definition. I think it will be a great spot for receptions and rehearsal dinners seating approximately 40-50 guests.

By the time we left the parking lot was packed and the entire restaurant was buzzing with energy. They are open M-F 4pm until closing and for lunch on Sat and Sunday until closing. I've heard they are considering Friday lunch as well. 

Thank you Robbin for the great tour and taste testing behind the scenes. Look forward to coming back soon for the bolognese. 

The Food Market

I landed at The Food Market a few Friday's before Christmas with my buddy SDM after shopping on The Avenue.

The restaurant was tastefully decorated for the holidays and has been open for about six months. Another great addition to our village.

We sat at the bar and were there late enough that the bartender was testing cocktails for the evening rush. We got to taste test the sangria. SDM like it so much he got a glass. Good marketing.


The mixologists were infusing vodka with fresh horseradish for their Bloody Mary. 

They also had an Earl Grey infused vodka for the High Tea Fizz. The crushed ice made this drink and I suggested the rosemary as a garnish. Smelled like tea time and they gave me the sample. Lucky.

We split the fried Pickle Po Boy with french fries that reminded me of great cafeteria fries. The Po Boy was so much fun and delicious. Makes me miss New Orleans.

We also split the salad Nicoise. The poached egg makes this salad in my opinion.

E and I got to know the owner Elan, when they were digging up The Avenue earlier this year. He is the nicest guy and so passionate about this restaurant. He even gave us a bottle of wine from Israel that was surprisingly good. The chef, Chad Gauss, came from the City Cafe and is very creative. Every time I've been to the Food Market they are serving a twist on the New American cuisine. It's also really nice having another restaurant open for brunch from 9-3 pm Fri-Sunday on The Ave.

This mile high burger flew past us at the bar and I have to go back to try it. My buddy Susan is a huge fan. Are you reading SJS? We need a date soon.

Have you ever noticed the LV details on the side of the banquet? Such a fun detail.

The nicest detail about the restaurant is that they offer free valet for dinner. 

From the looks of the new neighbors on The Avenue it does seem like things are turning around for so many. I hope it continues. Do support your local restaurants and shops wherever you are. Sending you best wishes for a prosperous New Year. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cloud 9 Clothing on The Avenue

While shooting the Hampden windows post I ran into one of Eric's soccer buddies on The Avenue. Randy and Priya were setting up their shop to open in time for the Mayor's Christmas Parade. Cloud 9 is a boutique clothing store with trendy items for this preppy girl's closet. A great fit for this mostly vintage neighborhood.

They were open and poured wine for us to keep warm while watching the parade. I loved this shop while it was on the Hopkins campus. E and I would grab coffee or Chipotle and he would patiently wait for me while I stopped in at Cloud 9. The best part is that you can find original items that not everyone else is wearing for affordable prices.

That gold little number would be perfect for a New Years Eve wedding, don't you think?

SDM even shopped for his sister here before Christmas with me. Preppies unite!

I've never understood trends and how things get to a tipping point of coolness but bird nerds are uniting everywhere this season with bird prints popping up everywhere. 

Go stop by and see Henry at the Hampden shop. 

Welcome to the neighborhood.