When celebrity chef Malcolm Mitchell opened Ryder’s in Fells Point this summer, the majority of news coverage surrounding the spot seemed to emphasize just how little news coverage there was: The Food Network star’s gastropub had opened without fanfare, hoping to build an expectation-free neighborhood following first. Mitchell’s tight, tasty menu was a hit—mac & cheese topped with Cheetos and a bison burger cooked in duck fat with gouda, horseradish and caramelized onions became quick favorites. By now, of course, the word has spread … and the spot’s clientele is distinctly less local. But that’s okay, according to Mitchell. “All the tourists used to go down to the Harbor, and now they’re coming through the neighborhood,” says the chef, who spends about three days a week onsite. “It’s good for business, good for the community. But in the winter, when there’s snow on the ground, that’s when the locals are going to keep us going.” 1901 Gough St., 443-869-2439. —Kimberly Uslin
Canton’s La Folie Wine Bar & and Steak Frites has a simple menu: steak, salmon, chicken or portobello with fries, a burger, mussels and a handful of French appetizers and sides (salade niçoise, escargots, a selection of cheeses). It’s the kind of go-to food that works when you don’t feel like cooking or want to impress a date without spending too much.
“There are too many bars in the area that can put food in your belly and give you a great price on Miller Lite and Fireball shots,” says owner Bill Irvin. When the opportunity came to revamp the former Tavern on the Square, he decided against another bar with wings and purple shots.
Irvin has added a tile floor, oversized mirrors, French posters and a red banquette for real French flair. But the most noteworthy tweak may be the addition of a frozé machine. “There can be 40 women at the bar” drinking pink wine slushies, Irvin says. Fine by him if “the guys would rather go up the street for Natty Boh.” Women, he says, “appreciate the better things in life.” 2903 O’Donnell St., 667-212-2112, bistrolafolie.com —Martha Thomas
Veteran Baltimore restaurateur Benny Gordon’s—Peabody Court Hotel, Chiaparelli’s, Café des Artistes, Restaurant 2110—newest venture, GEB’s BBQ Restaurant, is a cafeteria breakfast and lunch service barbecue spot in Windsor Mill that shares space with the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, and serves as a training ground for students from that organization’s Youth in Transition school as well as ProStart, a culinary training program for high schoolers.
Breakfast is egg sandwiches, omelets and pancakes, with grits, biscuits and meat on the side. Lunch: brisket, pulled pork, plus the chef’s special cornbread. Gordon’s wife, LaDeana Wentzel, manages the place and also provides desserts. Tables are reconstructed from wood salvaged after the Pikesville Lumber fire of 2014. Most produce is sourced from nearby Edrich Farms. GEB’s (the name is a mashup of Gordon’s name and Edrich) is open seven days a week and started serving dinner in October. (No alcohol.) 7205 Rutherford Rd., 410-298-4634, gebsbbq.com —M.T.
After closing Mount Vernon’s beloved Red Maple in June, owner Leonard Clarke was ready for a fresh challenge—to create a culinary concept with staying power in one of Charm City’s unluckiest locales, the former Hess Shoe Store. Since Hess closed in 1999, the Belvedere Square building has been host to a fleet of failed concepts: 2004’s Taste, 2008’s Crush and most recently Shoo-Fly, an upscale diner from Spike Gjerde. But Clarke, whose talent for longevity is evident from Red Maple’s 14-year run, is nothing but optimistic about his new Starlite Diner thanks to an innovative foodie- and family-friendly approach. The eatery is at once back-to-basics and modern; the menu, is as massive as your typical diner’s—but Starlite’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night offerings also include juices, cocktails and house-baked pastries. Seems that this greasy spoon’s made of silver. 510 E Belvedere Ave., 410-878-0069, starlitebaltimore.com. —K.U.
This decadent drink features a sherry with rich heritage dating back generations, paired with a nouveau Scotch. Fresh orange juice and cherry liqueur round out the peat in this Scotch-forward cocktail with the bacon adding a savory note.
2 ounces Pig’s Nose blended Scotch whisky
1 ounce Gonzales Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez sherry
1 ounce Combier Rouge cherry liqueur
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1 dash chocolate bitters
1 strip of lean bacon
Add spirits, orange juice and bitters together in a mixing tin. Dry shake (without ice). Strain into coupe or over ice. Garnish with bacon because, to quote Homer Simpson, “Mmm … bacon.”
By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East, and founder of Baltimore Cocktail Week.