Yes, there is a back story to explain the name of the new Hampden watering hole and restaurant Rocket to Venus, but it’s too complicated to get into here. What you’ll find inside the walls of what was once Showalter’s Saloon is a spacious, cleanly designed neighborhood grille, albeit one with a higher-than-usual hipster quotient. The central bar is ringed by comfy semi-circular banquettes for dining, all done with a faintly retro/mod touch. The kitchen, though, is the real surprise. The menu is chock-full of tempting small plates that can be combined to make a meal. Start with a plate of pirogis or Szechuan noodles, move on to potato leek soup or Brussels sprouts roasted in balsamic vinegar and olive oil (they’re addictive) and follow up with a grilled three-cheese sandwich or a plate of
“wimpies” (mini-burgers with fried onions and American cheese). Larger plates include Thai mussels, cornmeal-fried oysters and steak frites. The digital jukebox in the corner is a gem, too. Open seven days a week. 3360 Chestnut Ave., 410-235-7887

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