Gay Washingtonians know the Inner Harbor, Mount Vernon, the Hippo and City Café. But it’s time to venture to other Baltimore neighborhoods — old and new — to find the latest additions to the city’s vibrant arts and entertainment scene.
Within the past few years, the waterfront community of Harbor East has exploded with development, bringing a unique identity to the revived area complete with eateries, hotels and museums.
On Nov. 14, the luxurious $200 million Four Seasons Hotel officially opened in Harbor East, with breathtaking museum quality art and a Michael Mina restaurant, Wit & Wisdom. This 256-room hotel offers gorgeous harbor views and the rooms come with 40-inch LCD TVs, Blu-ray DVD players, universal cell phone chargers and marble bathrooms with a uniquely designed television located in a small square inside the bathroom mirror. Some of the rooms have spacious balconies that allow guests to relax and enjoy the views. There’s a lavish spa and 2,000-square-foot fitness center; an elevated deck with an infinity pool that overlooks the harbor; hot tubs and a café and magnificent bar. In the spring, Four Seasons will also unveil Pabu, a Japanese eatery.
Four Seasons Hotel
200 International Drive
Rates range from $279 to $1,500 per night for most rooms and $7,500 per night for the presidential suite
Also in the Harbor East area is Ten Ten, a new bistro-style restaurant that offers a variety of dishes, including lobster mac and cheese, seafood and steaks. The 10 entrees include rockfish, crab cake and steak frites. But try Ten Ten Sunday-Wednesday for the three-course Courtyard Menu with wine pairings. The menu is credited to executive chef Mark Davis and it changes often. The setting inside an airy old factory includes a bar with lots of exposed brick and natural wood.
1010 Fleet St.
Dinner daily, lunch Monday through Friday and brunch on Sunday
Appetizers, $6-$15; entrees, $18-$24
In nearby Fell’s Point, on the ground floor of the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum’s education pavilion, sits Waterfront Kitchen. This new restaurant boasts a breathtaking dining room that offers visitors a front-row seat to watch boats passing by in the harbor. The spare and stylish space was designed by Patrick Sutton Interior Design.
Offering a variety of appetizers and entrees, the “spirited American dining” menu includes such treats as an herbed winter vegetable pot pie, heads-on shrimp and a warm farmer’s cheese flan.
1417 Thames St.
Dinner daily and Sunday brunch
Appetizers, $8-18; entrees $16-42
Also in Fells Point is Bond Street Social, a restaurant with a mission of “taking social to a whole new level.” This noisy, bustling restaurant helps fulfill that mission by providing appetizer bites and larger-portion meals, all of which are intended for sharing with family and friends. The menu also has a variety of sides, salads and sliders. The chef is Neill Howell, formerly the chef de cuisine at Stanton Social in New York City. There are free-standing fireplaces and expansive views of the Fells Point street scene. It heats up later in the evening, so go early if you want to be heard rather than just seen.
Bond Street Social
901 S. Bond St.
Dinner Monday-Saturday and Sunday brunch (after 9 p.m., the restaurant transforms into a club, but food can still be ordered)
Appetizers, $7-14; entrees $12-22
Before dinner, hit one of the city’s many top-notch museums, remembering that there’s more to the city than just the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Gallery. In downtown Baltimore, the Fourth Annual Reginald F. Lewis Museum High School Juried Art Show will be on display at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. The art depicts communities being improved by civic or political activities or both. This year’s theme is “Building Community through Civic Engagement.”
Reginald F. Lewis Museum
850 E. Pratt St.
Exhibit runs Jan. 14-Feb. 26
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, also located downtown, is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of American pop culture. Items such as comic books, superhero action figures and rare posters are on display to help show the evolution and timeline of American pop culture. It also offers exhibits that focus on a particular character in pop culture. For example, on March 11, the museum will launch “Atlas At Last!” This brand new special exhibition of the Atlas-Seaboard line of comics is timed to coincide with the launch of the new Atlas titles. The exhibition will include a display of all 72 Atlas-Seaboard comic books and comic magazines from their brief 1974-1975 publication dates.
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
301 W. Camden St.
$10 adults, children (under 4) free
Just a short drive away in the Hampden neighborhood lies Café Hon. Last fall, the transformation of Café Hon was started, executed and filmed by “Kitchen Nightmares,” a Fox TV show that features Gordon Ramsay, and his entertaining, blunt assessments of everything from cooking to service. Café Hon invited Ramsey to help reshape the menu and provide a new direction. Scheduled to air in late February, the “Kitchen Nightmares” episode featuring Café Hon is also expected to focus on Café Hon’s public relations problems thanks to its unpopular effort to trademark the word “hon,” a common term that is engrained in Baltimore’s culture.
When “Kitchen Nightmares” departed after filming, Café Hon made some noticeable changes — most notably, its owner dropped her trademark claim to the word “hon” after a nasty backlash. Sure it gets touristy here, but the bar side is a fun place to catch a Ravens game with the locals.
1002 W. 36th St.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
Appetizers, $6-$10; entrees, $12-$19
Also new in Hampden is Corner BYOB, a fabulous restaurant that serves, among other things, grilled kangaroo tenderloin. The unique menu sets this restaurant apart from others in Baltimore. Be sure to make a reservation; the small dining room is almost always booked. And don’t forget to bring your own wine.
850 W. 36th St.
Open 5 p.m. Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. and Sunday brunch.
Appetizers: $7-10; entrees: $17-26; desserts: $6-9
Finally, Baltimore Restaurant Week is Jan. 20-29. Nearly 100 participating establishments provide fixed prices on specially selected three-course dinners for $30.12 or $20.12. Some are offering a two-course lunch for $15.12.
Baltimore Restaurant Week