Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Smashburger Coming To Ellicott City; Rte 40 Getting Some Delicious New Development

It looks like the fancy fast food burger joints are moving into Ellicott City.  Smashburger has posted a "coming soon" page about a new burger joint they'll put in the Arcadia Square development coming to Rte 40.

Smashburger is one of these new chains offering made-to-order burgers and competing with folks like BGR The Burger Joint. They specialize in thin burgers that they smash -- as you'd expect.  I haven't eaten there, but Serious Eats gave them a rave several years ago.  At a minimum, this is more fun along Rte 40.

David Brown Enterprises announced the Smashburger on a Web page about the ground breaking that looks like it went up in April.  That page says they hope to complete the construction by the third quarter of 2015.  But I hadn't heard about the new place.

Hat tip to Shelley!  Thanks.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pizza And Ice Cream In Downtown Ellicott City; Top Of My To-Do List -- If I Can Work Around Nap

The folks who brought weekend outdoor pizza to downtown Ellicott City have re-opened the nearby ice cream shop to make a dangerous duo -- to your waistline.

River House Pizza is Nathan Sowers' mobile wood-fired oven that turns the courtyard near the Main Street parking lot into an outdoor pizza restaurant.  For several years, they have served one of the highlights of the monthly market.

Now, that monthly market has become the weekly Ellicott City Old Town Market -- every Saturday offering music, farmers stands and more.  Check out their Facebook page for hours and details.

At the same time, Sowers has expanded River House to Friday lunchtime (11:30-2) and all day Saturday and Sunday (11:30-7).   He has also re-opened the ScoopAHHdeedo ice cream shop that operated down the row for a few years, but I think was shuttered for the last one or two.  The scoop shop will be open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 7 pm.

I've been remiss writing up the expansion.  I keep wanting to go.  We really loved the BrickNFire mobile pizza oven that operates across the river at the Breadery in Oella.  Now you can get pizza and the Taharka Brothers ice cream.

Have people been to the weekly Old Town Market?  What do you recommend?  This is now on my list -- waiting for a Saturday when I can get Lil' Chow down there before or after nap.  For a real report, check out Katie's post updated in 2014 on the Cupcake RN blog.

You can make real fun all weekend in downtown Ellicott City.  On top of the pizza and the Saturday market, one of the highlights is the weekly movies shown outdoors by the Wine Bin.  Check out their schedule on their site to see titles starting on May 22.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chutney Restaurant Raising Money For Nepal Relief; Julia Hit The Buffet For A Good Cause


The folks who run the Chutney restaurant in Columbia  have family connections in Nepal, and they're holding a fundraiser this week to support relief efforts.

Julia of the Village Green / Town Squared blog hit up the Chutney lunch buffet to help the cause  This is the restaurant on Snowden River Parkway that replaced Akbar's.  As I wrote in 2012, Indian is one of Howard County's deepest cuisines -- from House of India to Mango Grove to Royal Taj.  Julia and her hon HoCoHouseHon enjoyed Chutney, and she wrote up a guest report:
Chutney is decorated in a sunny yellow and feels airy and spacious.  HoCoHouseHon and I were greeted right away and our service throughout was friendly and helpful. Once we got our food from the buffet, we were brought the a basket of warm naan, and they kept our water glasses filled without any uncomfortable lags. I drink a lot of water.

There are three buffet tables laid out. I didn't photograph the one with main course items because someone was serving himself and I didn't want to breathe down his neck. There was plenty to choose from: vegetable samosas, rice, vegetable dishes at the first table; salads, chutney, and raita plus desserts at the second; and vegetable biryani, chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken and something with goat in it. (I don't eat goat.)
The buffet was immaculate, and all the menu items were well-stocked. The food was tasty and fresh. No feeling of warmed-over or tired out anything. For $11.95 it is an extremely good deal. And from now through the 17th, 30 per cent of your buffet check goes to Nepal. Don't want the buffet but still want to help out? They have a box at the bar for your donations.

My husband and I love House of India and Flavors of India, so although we know Chutney is there and have enjoyed it, we don't get back as much as I'd like. I would definitely go again, even after the fundraiser is over.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Make A Plan For Your Local Veggies Using Advice From AnnieRie, Plus More Local Food Writing

If you care about food in Howard County, you should be reading the AnnieRie Unplugged blog -- especially its coverage of CSAs, the Food and Friends company, and other options for sourcing produce, meats and more.

Last week, Annie gave an update on how she is using Friends and Farms, farmers markets and other sources to push for good-tasting, often-local food.  If you like that, click around on the tags at the bottom of her posts -- like all her posts about CSAs.  Or check out the Kitchen Scribble blog's CSA posts.

Beyond Annie, there are a bunch of people writing about local food.  Links feel more important as I have less time to write and as all the newspapers and magazines seem to shrink their local coverage:
As always, HoCo Blogs is a great place to start if you're looking around for local writing.  The local food blogging appears on the HoCo Blogs page about food.

(Update:  I fixed an error above where I had meant Friends and Farms and written Food and Friesnds.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food Matters: Learning To Eat From A Toddler, Getting A Gift From This Blog And Jeff's Family

Every time that I feel the blog fizzling out under the weight of so much else to do, I remember that food matters -- even the humblest dishes.

Lil' Chow came from his foster family loving seaweed soup.  We knew that, but I couldn't make the soup.  I could buy seaweed.  I could put it in soup.  But Lil' Chow ate little and never seemed to be in love.

I learned from Jeff Givens' mother-in-law that I just had to make it right.

Jeff runs Southern Skies Coffee just over the county line in Finksburg.  We met through HowChow and have emailed for years. He flagged the French Twist Cafe in Sykesville.  But we probably had met only once or twice when Jeff volunteered late last year that his kids loved miyok guk -- seaweed soup -- and eat bowl after bowl cooked by his mother-in-law.  Then he hand-delivered frozen soup to our front door.  Twice.

Lil' Chow went nuts for Jeff's mother-in-law's soup.  This was real Korean soup.  Meat and seaweed in broth.  Lil' Chow had eaten mostly formula at his foster family's home, but he had an expert's hand to spoon rice into his soup and then scoop, scoop from the bowl into his mouth -- and onto his bib, shirt, pants, the floor and high chair.  It's the only vegetable that he seems to really want to eat.

That kept my hope alive until last month when Lil' Chow and I passed a woman sampling seaweed soup in the new H Mart in Ellicott City.  He drank three samples, then cried when I pushed the cart away.  I couldn't explain that I'd grabbed two bags of dried seaweed to cook the soup.

My payoff came the next night when I put down my seaweed soup.  Lil' Chow picked up his spoon and said "guk."  That's Korean for soup, and it's a word that he hadn't heard since October.  But it was there on his tongue.  Just waiting for someone to serve miyok guk and bring it out.

He still likes her soup more. 

I defrosted our final quart Monday because Lil' Chow was home with a fever.  I hyped him up by saying that we would "eat guk" for lunch.  "Eat," Lil' Chow said.  "Guk."  He ate rice and miyok guk.  So did I.  It's my first food introduced by Lil' Chow.  I'd eaten exceptional Korean soups at joints like Lighthouse Tofu in Ellicott City and Hang Ari in Catonsville, but not this homestyle soup thick with the reconstituted seaweed and the tastes of sesame oil and thin-sliced meat.  We ate quietly at lunch.  It was the only time of our nap-less day that Lil' Chow was quiet.  He used two spoons to accelerate his pace.

And I was grateful for this blog, which connected me to Jeff and his mother-in-law and to miyok guk.  A little food that matters.


So far, the other food that matters: Frozen waffles.  I'm a short-order cook in the morning.  I make pancakes.  I offer cereals, fruits, eggs.  But Lil' Chow's eyes open widest for frozen waffles with syrup.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wine In The Woods Next Weekend: Assemble Your Crew For A Downtown Columbia Institution

Wine in the Woods kicks off this weekend, and it's worth assembling your crew to taste wine and join a Columbia institution.

The annual festival on May 16-17, 2015 is basically an adult carnival -- wine tasting, music, art to show, food to buy.

Check out the Wine in the Woods web site for all the details.  Mrs. HowChow and I went years ago on a date.  We're not in a wine-tasting stage of life at the moment, but I recommend the show if you can carry a few beach chairs to enjoy yourself with friends.

Can anyone share Wine in the Woods advice?  When to go?  Where to set up your chairs?  How to find the best wines to taste?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Signs? We Don't Need No Stinking Signs! Not When Ananda's Food Fills The Tables All Week

Ananda -- So you'll recognize it without a sign
I loved the food from the beginning, but for some reason, I now love Ananda's attitude as well.

The Indian restaurant opened in Fulton last year to terrific reviews.  Like a national magazine's list of the 25 most outstanding restaurants of 2015.  We have loved it from the beginning...

But Ananda's spot is unusual.

Duck dumplings
It's great for me.  It's the closest restaurant to my house.  But Ananda sits on Maple Lawn Boulevard out of sight from the main roads.  And it has no sign.  A striking open-windowed dining room in good weather, but no sign.

We always figured they were waiting on a sign delivery.  But then Mrs. HowChow asked owner Binda Singh this week, and Singh told her there won't be a sign.

He doesn't believe in them.

The Ambassador in Baltimore doesn't have a sign, he said.  And he doesn't think Ananda needs one either.

Now, I have to admit that I'm friendly with Singh.  I don't out myself normally in restaurants, but Singh is super-friendly and knew from emails that we were coming on his opening day.  It was a thin crowd.  So we said hello, and we have enjoyed ourselves ever since.  (Well, except for Lil' Chow's first nice restaurant meal when we tried to take him there at 6:30 on the Sunday daylight savings ended.  He was exhausted! That's another story.)

Singh doesn't believe in signs.

Citrus salad
Somehow, I love this.  It feels like a bad-ass rejection of the way most retail runs.  And it's working.  The place was packed on Tuesday when Mrs. HowChow took some students for dinner.  We're going back for Mother's Day.  We'll do dinner, but I heartily recommend the brunch.  One of the "lost" meals from my three months with few posts was a terrific March brunch with the Cordis Couple where I ate the perfect dumplings.

Those dumplings are pictured above.  My notes just say "duck, dumpling, chili sauce, sesame seeds, four, M."  I must have thought that I'd blog that afternoon. Some toddler madness must have gotten in the way.

Seriously, check out the Ananda menus if you haven't been yet.  Mother's Day looks like a buffet brunch.  That French toast casserole merits a visit all on its own.  Just keep your eyes peeled as your heading to eat -- because they're not putting up a sign.

You can see all my posts about Ananda.  You should also check out Jennifer Waldera's HerMind Magazine profile of the Kaur sisters, including Kinday Kaur who is the chef at Ananda.  Her sister is the chef at the "sister" restaurant The Ambassador in Baltimore.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Can You Buy Coffee And Quiet On A Weeknight?

Where can someone buy coffee and quiet on a weeknight?

Maria sent me an email weeks ago asking for suggestions about where folks might hang out on a weeknight -- open past eight, quiet enough to talk, maybe a coffee shop or diner.  Says Maria:
So a mom friend and I are looking for a good coffee spot that is open a little later during the week and wouldn't mind if we hung out for an hour or two. You know open past 8 and quiet. A diner would work also. Any ideas? Bonus points if it is close to King's Contrivance neighborhood. Mommies need time to catch up with their friends too.
For Columbia, I'm trying to think of a restaurant.  Most coffee shops here are breakfast and lunch joints.  The closest diners are probably on Rte 40. 

Hickory Ridge Grill was my first choice.  They're only open until 9 pm, but that's a friendly spot with coffee and room enough that they probably wouldn't mind you lingering over dessert or appetizers.  One of my "lost posts" from the past six months was a breakfast at Hickory Ridge where we got good eggs and a friendly vibe like Maria wants.

From there, I started to think about bars.  Not a packed joint like Looney's or the Green Turtle.  But an adult bar where a bartender might have enough empty stools to welcome coffee drinkers who tip. Ranazul and the Grille at Maple Lawn are both an easy drive south from King's Contrivance.  Their kitchens are open late.  They have bars that I can't imagine are packed on a weeknight.

Can anyone else recommend a local spot to get coffee and chat on a weeknight?  I was trying to think of Columbia restaurants that would welcome Maria.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sushi Buffet Has Returned To Rte 40; Bean & Burgundy Is Adding Lots Of Fish To The Menu

Bean & Burgundy Bread has added fish to the menu -- an all-you-can-eat sushi lunch that started last month and runs on special through May.

Check out the Bean & Burgundy Facebook post.  I haven't tried the fish yet, but Chris was nice enough to highlight the buffet to me.

I mourned the loss of Kimko Seafood's lunch buffet when it closed on Rte 40 a while ago.  I have to admit that my sushi eating has tended more towards Sushi Sono than all-you-can-eat.  But there is fun in gorging, and it does make for a talkative, extended lunch if you check it out with friends.

Katie posted Tuesday on the CupcakeRN blog about her visit to Bean & Burgundy.  She reports that the buffet had everything from pasta and Korean food to the 20+ sushi options.  She says the fish to rice ratio was decent, and the sushi was tasty.

May promotion is $13 per person with a free drink.  After May, it will be $13 during the week and $15 on weekends.

What have people found at the Bean & Burgundy sushi buffet?  Any recommendations?  What else have people liked at Bean & Burgundy?  I have been infatuated with the new Tous Les Jours on my few recent trips to Rte 40, so I haven't stopped at Bean & Burgundy recently.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Celebrate Summer! Sonic Milkshakes -- Half Priced After 8 -- Cool You Down For Change

Sonic milkshake
Here comes the relief!!  Warm weather has freed us from the indoors, and you should be thinking about how you will celebrate summer.

How about turning the change in your glove compartment for something delicious?  Adam has come through again with a HowChow guest post.  He hit up the relatively new Sonic on Rte 40, and he gives the full recommendation to their milkshakes, especially if you can hit up the half-priced promotion after 8 pm.  Take it Adam:
Look, I get it. It was only a few weeks ago we were dealing with snow and 20 degree days. Ice cream might be the last thing on your mind right now, and with the spring season ushering in its short-lived but no less attractive bounty of produce, you're looking to eat "farm to table," not "supply truck to chain."

Oh well, more for me, I guess.

In all seriousness though, the best milkshake in Howard County is is one you don't even have to leave your car to enjoy, and probably affordable enough to pay for with the change in your glove compartment. I'm talking, of course, about Sonic's half-priced milkshake promotion after 8 pm.

Don't believe me? Well consider for a second that Sonic isn't serving soft serve, they're serving "real" ice cream. If you're a fan of Alton Brown's classic Good Eats you'll recognize this is code for something with at least 10% milkfat. It's not just something you notice in the taste of Sonic's milkshakes, but in the texture. They give you a straw to drink these from, but it's about as helpful as chopsticks at a steakhouse. No, you'll want a spoon, because the indulgent and thick mixture of ice cream, whipped cream, and yes, that classic maraschino cherry, is built more like what the Midwesterners call a 'concrete.'

My personal go-tos are vanilla and fresh strawberry -- the former bursting with vanilla and sweet cream flavor, the latter plump with strawberry puree and pieces.  But Sonic advertises 25+ shakes complete with peanut butter flavors, cheesecake flavors, and even the option to add 'secret' additions like bacon, cookie dough, and turtle pecans. They're running the promotion through September, and damn if I don't break with tradition one of these nights and at least try tater tots in there. When you're running under a buck fifty for a premium shake, what have you got to lose?

Well, maybe your waistline. But everything in moderation I say!
Where else will you celebrate summer? Lil' Chow loves ice cream.  Luckily for us, he doesn't have enough body mass yet to pull open the freezer on his own.  I don't think we'll hit the late-night promotions with a toddler, but we want to get him soft serve and milkshakes and other summer fun.  I did "Ice Cream Summer" round-ups in 2009 and 2011.  I'd love to update the list. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Centre Park Grill Has Opened In The Former Cafe De Paris; Upscale Cousin To Mt. Airy Tavern

The new Centre Park Grill
Centre Park Grill has soft-opened in the former Columbia home of Cafe De Paris offering an upscale variation on their work at the Mt. Airy Tavern.

I haven't had a chance to stop at Centre Park yet.  I was chuckling recently when I remembered that I once had so much free time that I stopped at Gadsby's on opening day.
The bourbon that I'll try when I get there

Centre Park is run by Jim DiChiara and the folks behind the Mt. Airy Tavern.  They took over the space that used to be Cafe de Paris on Rte 108 near Rte 100.  They renovated, and Jim was aiming to stretch in his new kitchen -- a little more culinary flair, a little less bar food.

I had to laugh because the Centre Park folks sent me a few photos, including a bourbon that I really want to try on its own.  It was exactly the come-on that I need -- although I have to admit that our eating out has been just toddler quickies.

Check out Centre Park on their Web site or on Facebook.  I'd love folks to try to new place and leave comments with reactions and suggestions.

Azul 17 Closed In Columbia; Shuttered Mexican Leaves Two Slots Open On Snowden River

Several people have reported that Azul 17 has closed in Columbia. 

I am always bummed when a restaurant doesn't work out.  I know how much work that they take, and they disappear with people's jobs when they go.  Azul 17 closed down the row from where Korshi Buffet opened and closed quickly last year.

Azul 17 was a Mexican place that opened in 2009 as an upscale, unique option.  Mrs. HowChow and I had had great hopes, but it was one of those places that we passed by.  We never ate out as much as people seemed to think, and the Azul 17 prices meant that it had to compete with restaurants that always wowed us.

Does anyone know if restaurants will fill the Korshi and Azul 17 slots on Snowden River Parkway?

Thanks to Jim S. and other folks who left updates about restaurants.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Go Tour The World In Howard County; The CA Starts Stamping Their World Food Passport

If HowChow were a business, not a hobby, then I would try to do something as cool as Columbia Association's new "World Food Passport" program.

The CA has recruited a few dozen local restaurants to join a game that encourages you try new places.  You pick up a free passport.  You eat in participating restaurants.  You get your passport stamped when you pay your bill.

Some people will win a raffled gift certificate.  But I love the "World Food Passport" for encouraging folks to try something new -- an untried restaurant, a novel cuisine.  The CA wants to expose people to new cultures and wants to drum up new business for restaurants.  They reached out to all kinds of restaurants.  You can see the ones who volunteered to donate a gift certificate and buy a passport stamp on the program's Web site.

There are great spots on the list.  If it's mostly new to you, I would probably start with South Asian food.  Most of the county's Indian restaurants have joined, and many of those are exceptional.  But you could search HowChow for posts about many of the restaurants.  Look in right column for the search bar or for the list of links by restaurant name.

Personally, I think the CA folks need help.  I know how much effort Laura Smit and others put into the planning and outreach.  But they have a handful of Asian restaurants -- and no Korean ones -- in a county full of great Asian food.  Many restaurants have been hesitant about a novel idea.  Laura has an advisory board helping on multicultural programs, and I'd love for her to get help from a HowChow reader with connections to Chinese, Thai or Korean restaurants.  You can reach her at 410-715-3162 or International@ColumbiaAssociation.org.

Check out the CA Website for details and instructions on picking up your passport.  You can get them at Columbia village centers and Howard County libraries, so they're convenient.  I'm optimistic that more restaurants will join now that the program is real and diners will be coming around.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Now The Hard Stuff Is Coming To Howard County! Plus Manor Hill Brewing Releasing Beer Monday

Small production liquor is just great fun, and Howard County gets to join the party some time this summer where Lost Ark Distilling will start making rum and whiskeys in Laurel.

You young people may find it hard to believe that there was an epoch when we thought "interesting, unique" alcohol included Killian's Irish Red.  It took me years to learn it was brewed by Coors

Now, you could drink well all summer on beer brewed just in Maryland.  You could go for several weekends just trying different beers made in Howard County -- now at Jailbreak Bewery in Laurel and coming tomorrow from Manor Hill Brewing.

At least that's the news about Manor Hill on Randy Marriner's Twitter feed.  Please add a comment if you know the plans for the release party or if you try any of their beer.  I assume the Manor Hill beers will first appear at the Marriner family's Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia.

(Update:  MoCoBeer tweeted me a link to the release party poster.  Looks like 10 Manor Hill beers!  I just realized that *I* linked yesterday to a poster that mentioned the release party.  I'm working fast here.  I can basically read and write for a third to half of a nap.)

The Lost Ark folks want to add some harder stuff to the mix.  They signed a lease on U.S. 1 in Laurel, and they're aiming to start distilling in Summer 2015.  I, for one, welcome our new hard liquor overlords, expecially for a local whiskey.  I've only discovered bourbon and rye in the past two years, but they're now my main drinks.  I'll celebrate with as local a Manhattan as I can make.  I also know that setting up a business comes with challenges that can slow a schedule.

Speaking of those challenges, does anyone know the prospects for Black Eyed Susan Brewing?  After some early articles, I don't think I have heard anything in almost a year.

Wild Seafood, Caffe Bene And The Reborn Bonaparte Bread Have All Opened

The new Caffe Benne (from Jessie X)
Quick hits before Lil' Chow and I head out in the food world this morning.  Sunday grocery shopping and maybe an adventure after:
I live in Columbia and regularly go to Strapazzas/Tino's.  Just wanted you to know that we were there today and it is under new ownership.  We spoke to the owner [in February]  He says they intend to keep the restaurant mostly the same with the same chef and only change some menu items that they considered weak points.  He said they intend to add "farm to table" options at a later date.

We carefully evaluated the Veal Marsala and the Fettuccine Bolognese and can confirm that it is unchanged. :)
  • AIDA Bistro has a new executive chef -- Chris Lewis -- and newly promoted sous chef -- Sylvia Choi.  AIDA is still on my list of places that I need to visit.  But people talk up their Italian food and their wine selections.  I don't post press releases from restaurants, but I like giving shout-outs to the folks who make kitchens run.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Drink Up! It's Howard County Beer Week! And Where Do You Suggest For Happy Hour?

Howard County Beer Week with Lil' Chow
Just as I sat down at this computer, someone left the following comment:  "I'm guessing this is the end of HowChow."

Oh, no!  I'm down, but I'm not out.  Except when I'm out drinking beer in the daytime.

That's right.  Mrs. HowChow's at work today.  Lil' Chow and I hit Kloby's Smokehouse for a red rye pale ale and an extremely healthy lunch of grilled cheese and "nachos" made with waffle fries, cheese, beans, and pulled pork.  It is really a friendly place with pulled pork and housemade sauces that stand out.

Kloby's nachos -- fries, cheese, beans, pork
My friend The Weather Man joined us for Kloby's lunch with his daughter.  Weather Girl is a two-year-old star -- downing a mac-and-cheese sandwich and applesauce and being patient with a little boy still learning to share toys.

It has been really tough to write posts.  We're still figuring out how to handle work and the toddler.  But good food keeps coming in Howard County.  This week, you should be checking out beers.  Chris Mabe of TBonz Grille is running the 2015 beer week with events through next weekend that feature both brewers and restaurants.  These are great places from White Oak Tavern to Ale House Columbia, The Wine Bin to Victoria Gastro Pub.

Kloby's offered lots of $4 drafts yesterday.  I assume there are other specials.  Of course, I had to bring it back here to change a diaper and get a boy to nap.  So now I need help answering a question for Nick.  What happy hours do you recommend in Howard County?  Nick was looking for good deals or especially good food.  Please help him in the comments below.  My DC job and Lil' Chow mean that I can just recommend good beer joints like the ones above -- but not the specific happy hour winners.

Please keep the comments, tips and emails coming.  We're getting more space in our lives.  I am trying to knock of some posts during this nap, and there will be more HowChow!




Friday, March 6, 2015

Mutiny Pirate Bar Coming To Downtown E.C.

Mutiny Pirate Bar appears to be opening its second location in downtown Ellicott City.

There is a sign up in a building next to the Diamondback Tavern, reports George.  Mutiny is a rum bar in Glen Burnie that George says has good food and drinks from the people behind Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Does anyone know the timing?  George's photo seems to show "Summer 2015."

I'm really behind on all the tips that people have sent me.  Regular readers know the reason, but I hope that we're getting our feet underneath ourselves enough that I can post more.

Tous les Jours Opens On Rte 40; A Top-Notch Bakery And Coffee Shop Mixing France And Korea

Excellent croissant and red bean donut
It's thanks to Lil' Chow that I can tell you that the new Tous les Jours looks and taste just like the top-end coffee shops in Korea.

Of course, Mrs. HowChow and I saw Seoul's coffee shops last year when we went to meet and then bring home our boisterous toddler.  But it was this morning's daycare closing that got me into Tous les Jours for opening day.

And it's worth getting in there even if you've never been to Korea.  This is a terrific coffee shop -- heavy on caffeine and sweet pastries rounded off with croissants, a few sandwiches, smoothies and bing soo.  Clean, modern design.  Big spaces with tables and easy chairs.

Lil's Chow and I split a croissant and a red bean donut.  I drank the espresso on my own.  These were delicious pastries -- as were the other samples that the Tous folks pressed on us.  A light, flaky croissant with a crisp outer shell that reminds me of jet lag in Seoul.  One of the best red bean donuts that I have ever had -- and I've been posting about them for six years.  Lighter and fresher than most local bakeries with a perfect scattering of sugar on top.

The Korean bakeries have really expanded along Rte 40.  First, La Boulangerie in Ellicott City.  Then Bon Appetit and Shilla.  Now, chains actually from Korea seem to be coming -- Caffe Benne that will open next to Soft Stuff and Tous les Jours.  The Tous is on the north side of Rte 40 west of Rte 29 in the shopping center with a Boston Market and Lighthouse Tofu.

You should definitely check out Tous les Jours  this weekend.  It's classy and delicious enough for adults to lounge, but the pastries are kid-friendly enough that you could break your cabin fever by letting your youngsters sugar up.  You could go for lunch or grab dessert after dinner at Lighthouse or fried chicken at Bon Chon.  Folks have wondered how Rte 40 can support all these coffee shops, but I have to say that Tous les Jours tops my list now -- exceptional food and a really nice space.

If you're interested in the Korean coffee shops, I absolutely recommend checking them out.  Pastries, drinks and desserts are a few dollars each.  Right now, Shilla and Tous Les Jours are my favorites, but you can read all the posts about Korean bakeries.

If you go to Tous les Jours, look in the corner for the display of trays and tongs.  Again, that's right out of Seoul coffee shops.  Pick up a set and select what you want from the pastry displays.  Then take them to the register to be boxed or carried to a table.  I love the modern trays.  I'd buy some for our house.

Hat tip to Min who saw an opening day advertisement in a Chinese newspaper.  That's how I knew that Lil Chow and I could check it out.  The Purim parade was postponed again today because someone fed our daycare stories of ice and snow.  Since Lil Chow couldn't have hamantashan, it seemed only fair to get him out of the house and feed him red bean donut.

Tous les Jours
9338 Baltimore National Pike (Rte 40)
Ellicott City, MD

NEAR: Tous les Jours is in a shopping center with Boston Market and Lighthouse Tofu on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  It's on the north side of the road west of Rte 29.  Coming from Rte 29, you'll see signs for Asian Court, a Chinese restaurant with excellent dim sum.  Then watch for Tous on the right.  It is in the "back" of the shopping center so its windows look parallel to Rte 40, not onto the road.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Vote For Best Maryland Restaurants On-Line

You can vote for your favorite restaurants -- including Howard County locals like Ananda, , and River Hill Sports Grille -- through the Restaurant Association of Maryland's on-line polling.

Trip Klaus tipped me to the voting.  Anyone can vote for some of the "dining public" categories, and there are locals on the ballot, including chef Fabio Mura at Grille 620 and Bistro Blanc for wine service.  Plus there are members only categories if you work for a Restaurant Association member.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

News Flashes! Quick Hits About Bonaparte, Gorman Farm, Caffe Benne, And Bon Fresco

I have been hearing news even though I haven't had time to pass it along.  So here is a quick roundup of comments and questions:
  • Does anyone know if the Bonaparte Bread in Savage has re-opened?  It closed in January, but Anonymous left a comment a week ago saying that the Savage location had re-opened, maybe under new ownership and management.  Who knows the details?  Who knows if I can buy bread there?
  • Is it true that Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel won't open a retail stand this summer?  Anonymous commented on an old post that Gorman will sell just to members of its CSA.  I can understand the move.  Farming seems hard enough.  Farming and running a store seems overwhelming.  But I loved stopped there for produce.  I hope they'll at least do pick-your-own strawberries.  I have a new farm hand for this spring!
  • Adam reported that the Caffe Benne bakeries has opened on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  Has anyone been?  This is one of the string of Korean bakeries like Shilla and Bon Appetit.  I wrote a few months ago that Rte 40 is becoming Gangnam style literally -- that neighborhood has multiple bakeries on many blocks.  He also reports that the neighboring pizza shop turned out to be a Papa Murphey's Take and Bake.
  • Latest word in the new Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery is that it will open in April, reports Linh.  This is in the Lakeview Office Park.
Thanks for all the comments and emails.  I am trying to get back into posting.  We're just at deep sleep deficits here as Lil' Chow adapts to his new life.  Most days, there is no free time before I collapse.  But I hear that things get better.