Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

See You at Brunch

March 28, 2009

As the whether gets warmer and you folks slowly emerge from hibernation, eager to welcome warmth and sunshine . . . well, first I’d tell you to go back into hibernation, we’ll keep having cool days until closer to May!  Then I would tell you to ease back into the bar scene slowly and with mimosas.  It’s really the best way to do it!

Capt. and I finally got to go to Little Havana in Baltimore for their highly popular brunch.  I have heard nothing but raves about brunch at Little Havana, and after almost 2 years of bugging Capt. to take me, he finally gave in.  I was tickled and excited, and as he called to make our 11am reservation, I knew it was going to be a good Sunday.

We arrived at Little Havana at 10:50am and there was a line.  It wasn’t a big line, but it was a line . . . the line consisted of intermural teams eager to have a sip before (or after, I don’t really know) their big game, couples like Capt. and myself, and parents with their children.  We all had the same intention, to eat and drink ourselves silly for $13.95 per person.  And boy did we succeed.

Little Havana’s brunch is just that, $13.95 per person for a brunch entree (Cuban-inspired) and bottomless mimosas, bloody mary’s, and non-alcoholic beverages, like coffee, that I couldn’t care less about when promised orange juice and champagne.

Thanks to Capt.’s good thinking about making us a reservation, we were seated and served quickly.  We got our drinks within the first few minutes of sitting down.  I ordered a mimosa and Capt. ordered a bloody mary.  Trust us, we learned that day that Little Havana does not skip on the libations.  They want everyone to get happy and drunk.  We started off with pint glasses of beverages at 11am and left at 1:30pm, having killed off 2 pitchers.  They weren’t strong, but they did the trick!

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A word to the wise, Little Havan prepared their bloody mary’s the night before and are very generous with Old Bay in the actual mix and on the lip of the cup.  The drink ended up being strong for Capt. and less than pleasant for me.  If you’re on the fence about sipping on Mary, go for the mimosas.

We were only about halfway finished our drinks when our brunch arrived.  I had ordered a side of plantain fritters sprinkled with powdered sugar, and an avocado omelette, which included eggs, topped with fresh avocados and a mixture called sofritos on the inside.  Sofrito is advertised as “peppers and onions stewed in a spicy tomato sauce, as a girl who can hardly tolerate pepper, it’s not spicy and reminded me of a watery cooked pico de gallo.

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You can see in the picture I didn’t just get the omelette.  Served with it was a very welcome surprise of 2 strips of bacon, a delightful sugary sweet mini muffin, cuban bread strips, and honey butter that was so good it could have been eaten on its own.

The meal was totally worth the $13.95!  We finished shortly after and sat and watched basketball on TV while drinking as many pitchers as we could handle.  Unlike other popular brunches I’ve been to, no one was trying to kick us out, we were welcome to stay as long as we like.  It was glorious!

By noon the atmosphere really started picking up at the place.  Truthfully, it seemed like for a lot of the people, brunch at Little Havana was the equivalent of going to the bar.  Capt. and I both agreed that we would almost prefer doing brunch than going out on a Saturday night. 

There were large groups killing pitcher after pitcher of mimosas, people playing shuffle board and pool, the NCAA tournament was showing on all TVs, and no one was rushing you out.  It was really like a night out on a town.  There were all age ranges, college student, parents with small children, people my parents age and older.  Everyone was welcome!

So as you’re easing back into the routine of hitting the pavement and reentering society after a winter of hibernation, make your first stop brunch at Little Havana.  It won’t disappoint.

Contortionism at it’s Best!

March 26, 2009

Tonight my parents, Capt., my friend DG, her husband, her parents, and I (we’re a HUGE party!) are going to see Cirque du Soliel’s Kooza.  I am so excited to see a Cirque show, hang out with one of my all time oldest and closest friend, and just enjoy a night out. 

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We’re starting the evening out at Lucy’s Irish Pub (formerly Maggie Moore’s), which might be one of my favorite Irish restaurants in Baltimore.  Lucy’s is different than the other Irish places in the city because it’s not an irish pub that serves good irish food, like James Joyce and Mick O’Sheas.  It’s an Irish restaurant that serves beer.  I has great authentic Irish meals, like stew, Shepherd’s pie, and corned beef and cabbage, but also has some great looking nontraditional meals that sound delicious.  I’m already eyeing up their Low Country Shrimp and Grits.  Mmm . . .

A cool note about Kooza, Charm City Cakes, of the Ace of Cakes fame, made a specialty cake for the cast of the show.  See the cake presentation here: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/dining/reviews/blog/2009/03/post_129.html

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Where to Eat Tomorrow

March 16, 2009

Baltimore Sun’s Sam Sessa ate corned beef and cabbage at five different restaurants in the area so you could figure out a place to eat tomorrow.

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Here’s where he ate and what he had to say about it . . .

An Poitin Stil

Address 2323 York Road, Timonium

Phone 410-560-7900

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

With Irish-themed tchotchkes crowding every wall, this sprawling suburban restaurant beats you over the head with its brogue. The pile of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes is worth savoring, though. At $13.29, it’s a pretty good deal, too.

Let’s start at the bottom, where melt-in-your-mouth potato chunks sat in a watery sauce. The potatoes were blanketed by a layer of large, steaming cabbage leaves. And finally, pink corned beef that came apart in hunks at the touch. This is Irish-American food at its best: warm and comforting.

Kelsey’s Restaurant and Irish Pub

Address 8480 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City

Phone 410-418-9076

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

“Hope you’re hungry,” the waitress said as she set down this dish of corned beef and cabbage, $14.99. We were famished, but still could barely finish everything on the plate.

Several spears of corned beef – tender enough to slice with the side of a fork – lay next to a pile of creamy mashed potatoes and a halved head of cabbage. Mashed potatoes may be less traditional, but they were no less welcome. And the sauce underneath the corned beef, cabbage and potatoes was rich enough to lend some flavor to the food without overpowering it.

Kelsey’s has a more formal setting than the Stil, with less Irish-themed memorabilia. The restaurant likes to advertise that its corned beef marinates for hours before it’s served. We believe it.

Quigley’s Half-Irish Pub

Address 633 Portland St.

Phone 410-539-9052

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

Even a half-Irish pub should know better. Instead of offering hearty hunks of corned beef, this Ridgely’s Delight establishment served tough strips of meat that looked more like beef jerky. This chewy corned beef was sliced extra-thin and sat next to a pile of red-skinned potato chunks, cabbage and crunchy carrot spears.

Little about the cabbage or potatoes was remarkable, either. Everything except the carrots tasted bland and, at best, the dish was barely passable. The whole order cost $7.69 – about half the price of the others we tried.

The Irish Channel Restaurant and Pub

Address 1053 Maryland Route 3 North, Gambrills

Phone 410-451-4222

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays

Nothing stood out about this order, $13.99, except the sheer size of it. Several corned beef strips – each about the size and shape of a piece of biscotti – shared a plate with chopped potatoes and moist cabbage. All told, it felt like 2 pounds of food. But the beef and potatoes bordered on dry, and the cabbage wasn’t cooked quite long enough. Overall, this order was just middle-of-the-road.

Slainte Irish Pub

Address 1700 Thames St.

Phone 410-563-6600

Hours 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays

The first few bites of this order, $12, tasted fine. The long, thick strips of corned beef, which sat between two halves of a head of cabbage, were soft and juicy. A few forkfuls later, we realized there was a pool of butter at the bottom of the plate, and everything had been drenched in it.

Normally, we’d say the more butter the better. But – believe it or not – there is a limit to just how much melted butter you can soak food in, and this corned beef and cabbage went over it.

For the price and the amount of food, Slainte could easily have made this into one of the best corned beef and cabbage deals in town. A little less butter would have gone a long way. As it was, this dish was just too rich.

Green Cupcakes!

March 16, 2009

After enjoying lunch and shopping at the Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company on Saturday, Capt. and I headed to Baltimore Cupcake Company to indulge in the number two (edible) thing that makes me happy . . . cupcakes!

The store was in Locust Point and ended up being easier to get to than I thought, of course Capt. is familiar with the area and he was driving so that might not be true . . .

On the outside the store was advertising that it carried Lillian Vernon, Vera Bradley, and all other preppy merchandise to go along with the cupcakes.  I guess so you can shop and eat.  Well, I guess they were switching inventory or sold out of everything that they had because the place looked empty.  That has nothing to do with cupcakes, but hey, they were advertising it so I feel the need to comment!

The flavors they had available were Key Lime, Vanilla Woo, Chocolate Woo, Peanut Butter Cup, Bailey’s Chocolate, and something coconut whose name we can’t remember.  We decided to go with Peanut Butter Cup (for Capt.), Key Lime, Vanilla Woo, and the Bailey’s flavor (all for me).  The Bailey’s was our in honor of St. Patrick’s Day selection . . . I just had to do it . . .

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Oh my goodness, these cupcakes tasted as wonderful as they look!  I consider myself to be somewhat of a cupcake expert, especially after spending a day in NY sampling and rating cupcakes from 5 different places (all for pleasure, of course) and Baltimore Cupcake Company’s treats certainly would have ranked high on my rating.  I don’t care for frosting that is too heavy or sugary and the frosting on all cupcakes, although very sugary and sweet, were not overpowering.  The sweetness in the Key Lime cupcakes were pretty strong, but I kind of expected that from Key Lime.  If you can’t handle strong sugar, I’d recommend staying away from the Key Lime and maybe go for something a bit more mild.

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Now, the most important part of a cupcake to me is the cake.  I cannot stand dry cupcakes!  Dry cake can ruin a cupcake, and I do not stand for it!  All the cupcakes we received had nice, soft, moist cake.  I was most impressed by the Bailey’s cupcake, whose cake and frosting could have each stood alone and given me enjoyment.  The Key Lime was again, the least impressive cake-wise.  It didn’t have much flavor, but in the end that was probably for the better because of the sweetness of the frosting.

So, at the end of our Saturday afternoon, Capt. was happy, I was happy, and I am still waiting to enjoy Vanilla Woo . . . YUM!

Oh, and they have Cupcake Happy Hour.  Who can turn down cupcakes for $1?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea is an Irish Thing too!

March 14, 2009

One thing I told Capt. that I wanted to do this weekend was finally check out the Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company location in our area.  As you all know, tea is a weakness of mine right up there with cupcakes, so a visit to Baltimore Coffee would just tickle me pink!

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After a slow start this morning, due to a late night trip to Atlantic City last night, we got moving with the intention of doing a little shopping and catching some lunch.

The store is set up so coffee lovers can go to one side of the store and shop at a huge assortment of flavored coffee beans (fair trade at that!) and get a few coffee making accessories.  When you walk into the store, the smell of fresh coffee just hits your nose, making the place have such a warm and cozy feel to it.  I tell you what, if I drank coffee, I would have picked up some of their Pumpkin Spice coffee beans.  Capt. got himself a cup of their Toasted Almond coffee and said that it was delicious.

I headed directly to the side of the store that sold tea!  I haven’t used my tea strainer that Capt. got me last Christmas in a while and I was eager to get some loose tea leaves.  You better believe that was an easy thing to do!  The store had tons of different kinds of tea by all different companys, all packaged adorabley (because to some people packaging means a lot!).  I picked up Blackberry-Apple and Peach and Ginger tea by Baltimore Tea.

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After shopping was finished, it was time for lunch!  I got the Eastern Shore Chicken Salad (with craisins and walnuts) on ciabatta and Capt. picked up the Bay Blue Roast Beef, which he got on a pretzal roll instead of baguette.  The sandwiches were all around delicious sandwiches and were consummed quickly and happily!

All in all, the food was good, the merchandise better, and it’s a great place for a tea and coffee lover to check out.  Go there instead of starbucks!

Oh, and they had the most delicious looking gelato, which I really really wanted, but by then we had decided that we were going to get cupcakes!  More on that on Monday . . .

Happy Weekend!

March 13, 2009

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St. Patrick . . . one of the few saints whose feast day presents the opportunity to get determinedly whacked and make a fool out of oneself all under the guise of acting Irish. – Charles M. Madigan

Mead Me on St. Patty’s Day

March 13, 2009

Some of my St. Patrick’s Day bonanza posts are a little beer heavy . . . OK very beer heavy!  What can I say?  I’m an Irish American girl who loves herself some Smithwick’s! 

For those who don’t roll like that and prefer beverages better suited for raised pinkies, here are a few wine/mead and tea events this weekend!

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What: 15th Annual ‘Medieval Mead, Irish Saints, and Entwined with the Vines”
When: March 1 – 31
Where: Berrywine Plantations/Liganore Wine Sellers, Mt. Airy, MD
Info: This March, let Linganore Winecellars help you celebrate the luck of the Irish at their 14th annual ‘Medieval Mead, Irish Saints & Entwined with the Vines’ tasting. Throughout the month, visitors will enjoy pairing more than 20 Linganore wines with distinctive Irish cheeses from Euro-USA in Sterling, Virginia and enticing desserts by local pastry chef, Linda Gourley, owner of Just Desserts in Sykesville, Maryland. Guests will also have an opportunity to use vines from the vineyard to create beautiful wreaths and cheerful decorations.  $5.00 per plate pairing fee.

What: St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
When: March 14 – 15, 11am – 6pm
Where: Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Dickerson, MD
Info: Join us for tastings of wine, Irish music and treats. • Free • For more information, call 301 605 0130 or visit website.

What: Celebrate St. Patty’s Day, with the Bog Band at Black Ankle Vineyards
When: March 15, 12 – 5pm
Where: Black Ankle Vineyard, Mt. Airy, MD
Info: Back by popular demand!  The Bog Band will set a lively tone for St. Patrick’s Day at Black Ankle Vineyards.  We’ll skip the green beer, but there will be plenty of festive spirit in honor of our Irish roots.  Come join us for what will be sure to be a rollicking good time!

And for the non-drinkers!  I know some of you are out there, even on St. Patty’s Day!

What: Celtic Harp Tea
Where: Crown and Thistle Tea Room, Sparks, MD
When: March 14, 3pm
Info: Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day with live Celtic music!  Let traditional Irish songs serenade you as you enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea with friends.  This is a special event tea.  Afternoon tea is $22.95 and high tea is $26.95.  Please call to make reservations.

Everything Green Around Town

March 11, 2009

First of all . . . How did I not know that the Pogues are playing in Baltimore on Thursday?!?  They are one of my FAVORITE Irish bands and I am totally missing out.  ARGH!

And now, here’s a list of some of the things that are going on around Baltimore this upcoming weekend for St. Patrick’s Day.  I will be out and about, probably at the Au Potin Stil, which I will talk about a little bit more tomorrow!

What do you have planned?

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What: The Pogues
Where: Rams Head Live
When: Mar. 12, 7 p.m.
Cost: $55
Info: Shane MacGowan slurs punk and traditional Irish folk music in this band known for songs like “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” and “Fairytale of New York.

What: Keep the Mini-Pint Night
Where: Slainte
When: March 12
Info: For $4, this keep-the-glass special fills a mini-pint three times.

What: Change Your Luck Party
Where: Slainte
When: March 13
Info: For this, the second Friday the 13th in two months, Slainte shares the luck of the Irish. Drink $3 Guinness, meet the Guinness girls and win fun prizes while listening to live music.

What: St. Patrick’s Day Party
Where: Looney’s Pub North
When: March 13 – 17
Info: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with three days of live music, Irish food and more.

What: St. Patrick’s in the County
Where: Au Poitin Stil – Timonium
When: Mar. 14-17; Fri. 4 p.m.- close, Sat. 11 a.m. – 1 a.m., Sun. noon – close, Mon. 10 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Cost: $5
Info: The festival takes place in a tent in the parking lot and inside the restaurant, each location features a stage with a long line up of Irish performers. Drink specials every day. Sunday is “Family Day” with face painting balloons and clowns.

What: St. Patty’s Day 4 Bars x 2 Days
Where: Muggsy’s, Taps, Don’t Know and No Idea Tavern – Baltimore
When: March 14 – 17
Info: All four bars will be running the same special: Buy one 16-oz. stadium cup for $20 and receive Miller Lite Draft and Guinness for only $1, both days. Car bombs will be $5, with purchase of a cup.

What: Federal Hill Irish Stroll
Where: Cross Street Market
When: March 14
Info: In its 11th year, the Federal Hill Irish Stroll is sure to attract plenty of St. Patrick’s Day weekend merry-makers. Specials include $2 Miller Lite drafts and bottles and a variety of food specials.

What:St. Patrick’s Day at James Joyce
Where: James Joyce Pub
When: Mar. 15-17
Info: Mar.15: Pete Baker (9-1:30 p.m.),Brendan Pelan (3-7 p.m.);Mar. 16: Brendan Pelan (11 a.m.-3 p.m.),East End Rakes (3-8 p.m.); Mar. 17: East End Rakes (11 a.m.-3 p.m.),Someone Else (4-8 p.m., 9-1:30 a.m.)

What: Irish Shrine at Lemmon Street and surrounding area
Where: Begins in the B&O Museum parking lot
When: Mar. 15, 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free
Info: Tours include the Irish Shrine’s houses, St. Peter’s Church, Hollins Market, and St. Peter’s Cemetery. The first half of the tour takes about 1.5 hours, followed by an optional lunch at Patrick’s Pub (45 minutes) then on to St. Peter’s Cemetery. Call 410-669-8154 for a reservation.

What: St. Patrick’s Day Brunch
Where: Camden Club at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
When: Mar. 16, 11:30 a.m.
Cost: $30
Info: For reservations call, Jane Bailey 410-485-5834 or 443-838-5162.

What: St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Where: Inner Harbor and downtown
When: Mar. 16, 2 p.m.
Cost: Free
Info: Baltimore kicks off its wearin’ of the green every year with a grand parade hosting Irish dancers, bagpipe players in colorful kilts and bands like the Marching Ravens.

What:St. Patrick’s Day at Mick O’Shea’s in Mount Vernon
Where:
Mick O’Shea’s
When: Mar. 16-17
Info: On Sunday, Mar. 16, ub opens at 10 a.m. to welcome St. Patrick’s Day Parade spectators and participants. Donegal X-press plays at 4 p.m. On Monday,Mar. 17,live traditional music from 12-4 p.m. then at 6 p.m. Donegal X-press kicks it up a notch. Tuesday and Wednesday closed for repairs.

What: Meet in the Street
Where: Claddagh Pub
When: Mar. 16-17
Cost: Free
Info: While sponsored by Claddagh Pub, this party spills out from every bar on O’Donnell Square.

What: 1st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl
Where: Lucy’s Irish Pub, Mick O’Shea’s, Tir Na Nog, James Joyce Pub, Slainte
When: March 17, 3pm – 11:45pm
Info: The Shuttle Bus begins at 3pm and will make stops every 15 minutes to Lucy’s, Mick O’Shea’s, Tir Na Nog, James Joyce and Slainte.

City Paper Gives the Inside Scoop

March 10, 2009

If you pick up Baltimore’s City Paper, you’ll find their Annual Dining Guide!  Their staff of way more people than I felt like couting hit the pavement and chowed down at 170 different restaurants in Baltimore in order to put together a great compilation.  As a woman who loves order and lists, the guide made me quite giddy when I saw that it was organized by the fare that they serve.  Maybe it’ll help Capt. and I find an indian restaurant in Baltimore that we really love, because I’ve been craving some good korma!

In honor of it being 1 week away from St. Patty’s Day, here’s a little peek at the Irish restaurants that they reviewed in the city.  They missed Tir Na Nog, but that’s kind of OK since it’s a chain, and a few other places, but the ones below are definitely the Irish restaurants in the city that I tend to frequent.  Lucy’s is my default pre-theater restaurant and I’ve already made a reservation for dinner there before I see Cirque du Soliel at the end of the month.  Also, I had the most delicious blueberry and peach bread pudding at James Joyce last time I was there.  Mmmm . . . . !

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James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant

616 S. President St., (410) 727-5107, thejamesjoycepub.com, $$

James Joyce provides the chance to score a proper pour of Guinness when you absolutely positively have to patronize this neck of the Inner Harbor’s woods. We’ve never tried any of the conventional dinner menu items–crab cakes, pork chops, and the like–but the Irish staples, such as fish and chips and a solid shepherd’s pie, are worth checking out.

Lucy’s

21 N. Eutaw St., (410) 837-2100, lucysirishrestaurant.com, $$$

Where Maggie Moore’s, which used to occupy this space, felt more like a pub with nice dining room attached, Lucy’s somehow feels more like a nice restaurant with a pub attached. Lucy’s menu offers an extensive selection of nouveau treats–sliders Irished up with Blarney cheese, seafood and pasta options, and even some small plates at the bar now–but the Irish selections sing, especially a gut-busting traditional Irish breakfast, good day or night.

Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant

1700 Thames St., (410) 563-6600, slaintepub.com, $$

This sprawling Fells Point spot has enough self-identity to avoid the Irish-pub-in-a-box trap. Sure, it’s self-consciously “Irish,” with Celtic motifs and scripts painted hither and yon, but it’s not trying to fool you into thinking you’re getting drunk in front of Aunty Molly’s coal furnace. We go for the real football and rugby matches on the downstairs TVs, relaxing with real, honest-to-god Irish people (and our American pals), drinking expert pours of Guinness, and eating excellent sandwiches, burgers, and respectable, if a bit pricey, shepherd’s pie.

Happy Birthday . . . 3 Weeks Later!

March 3, 2009

To celebrate my friend, DG’s birthday, we went into Downtown Frederick for a little brunch and shopping.  I think for people who aren’t familiar with Historic Frederick, it’s really an underestimated place. 

Frederick has some great restaurants and fun shops.  Whenever I go, I insist on popping into Muse for a few locally made goods like jewelry, paints, journals, hair pieces, and home goods.  Actually DG and I signed up to take a bracelet making class through Muse in March!

DG requested that we go to Cafe Nola for brunch on Saturday and boy was it a good choice!  Cafe Nola buys directly from local farms (and there are a lot in Frederick County!), offering fresh food while supporting the local community.  Cafe Nola was very casual with a modern cafe style.  You seat yourself and wait for a server to come to you, again, the service is casual, so if you’re in a hurry, I don’t know if I would recommend popping in there.  If you’re spending an afternoon with your best friends, want delicious food, and to have a good time, go ahead in!

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JC (on the right) and I head into Cafe Nola!

We started off with some coffee and Tea, Cafe Nola proved to have a large selection of tea, and DG branched out and got a Brazilian Berry Tea. Mmm . . . It didn’t take us long to decide what we wanted, although DG made sure that we all knew everything there was good.  DG and JC wanted their baked tofu sandwich, which has baked tofu, goat cheese, spring greens, hummus, and onion.  Unfortunately, they were out of tofu, and we all ended up getting the Grilled Cheesey sandwich.  The sandwich included provolone cheese, tomato, fresh basil, and pesto, on focaccia.  The sandwiches were served with a side of bagel chips which were salted to crispy perfection.

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JC and I digging into our grilled cheesey!

I’m a little fussy about pesto, I think because my first time eating it wasn’t the best experience.  Let me just say that I walked away extremely happy about every item that was used to create my grilled cheesey.  Actually, JC got hers without basil and pesto and I looked over at her eating it and thought that she was just missing out!

It was delicious, I hope to go there again next time I make a trip to Frederick, and think you should go to!  Branch out and see everything Frederick has to offer!