Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coffee Talk With The HowChows: What New Food Options Should Come To Howard County?

Reading the Sun, Mrs. HowChow found an advertisement that says the CalicoCorners in Fulton was closing.  Not a store that we frequent, but we're bummed for anyone that closes.  We started talking about who could use that relatively-large space in the Maple Lawn development.  Soon Mrs. HowChow was riffing about the food that could come to Howard County:
It could be a Lebanese Taverna.  The only problem is that one side looks out over the gas station.  I'd love one like the Lebanese Taverna in Baltimore because it can range from an elegant dinner to relatively casual, and it's family-friendly even though it is a white-table-cloth place.   
But we'd take the casual one like Rockville [that has counter service like Maiwand Kabob or Bon Fresco].  Even though it isn't elegant, it has the great food, and you could do takeout.  We've done take-out from Rockville, and it survived the trip well.
 My argument is to look for things where the closest location is in another county . . . Look at it on the map.  Lebanese Taverna is in Rockville and Baltimore.  Nothing in the middle.  Jamba Juice?  There is nothing nearby.
Sir!  Sir!  Are we idiots?  Get off the counter! [This is to one of the cats.]
I would also suggest moving Cuba de Ayer.  But they may not want to move from Burtonsville.  We'd welcome them.
I repeated my hope for a bahn mi joint in Howard County.  That may not be a top choice for everyone, but it seems like a way to expand a menu either for one of the Vietnamese places like An Loi Pho or for a place that already has great bread like Bon Fresco.  Mrs. HowChow was flippin through Baltimore Magazine:
Look at the new Milk & Honey Market in Mt. Vernon.  It has fresh fruits and vegetables. I don't really need the gourmet part, but it has oils, pastas, milk and honey.  It has the [air quotes with the fingers]  farmers market without the GNC aisle [like some organic markets].  It has the best parts of Whole Foods like the artisinal cheese and the deli meats.  Plus, they serve breakfast and lunch.  It is in this location that is dense and where people walk around.
[Cat jumped behind the television.]  He is just ballsy without any balls.
I have never been there, but I would be happy with Bonefish Grill.  Mrs.  HowChow's friend loves it.  I'd be happy with chains that are mid-priced but aren't here.  I'd rather have a Noodles and Company than a Hair Cuttery.  I'm thinking about Baltimore things where they would have a southern location.  Cindy Wolf, Tony Foreman.  Anything you want to open down here?
And, of course, we would always take a southern location of Capogiro -- the gelato store that makes us plan trips to Philadelphia.   What else do you want?  Or what else do you know is coming?


Courtney said...

I would love to see a Menchies in that space. The one in Annapolis is incredible and the 20 min drive to Tutti Fruity just doesn't seem appealing most night.
My husband and I would love to see a gym in Maple Lawn. We have to choose between the ones in Laurel or travel all the way to Columbia. Having one 5 min down the road would be perfect.

sherringham said...

I second Bonefish Grill. I'm a big fan, but I only ever visit one when I'm visiting family north of Philadelphia.

What about a place like Miss Shirley's from Baltimore. They had their original place off of Cold Spring Creamery Rd north of the city, and opened a second location in Harbor East. The only problem with Miss Shirley's is that they're only open for breakfast and lunch. I'd like to see them expand to dinner too.

Perhaps a Dogfish Head Pub? There's one in Gaithersburg that's pretty nice.

Maybe the Buffalo Wild Wings that was supposed to go in where Rocky Run sits?

Someone should tell Spike Mendelsohn that there's space available in Maple Lawn!

HowChow said...

We already thought of more!

We'd love a place that sells good salamis, smoked meats, etc. Restaurants call that charcuterie, but I'd grab a half pound of good stuff to add to food. I splurge for the more-expensive prosciutto at Harris Teeter, and it ends up in pasta dishes, with cheese, in vegetables, etc.

Unknown said...

@Courtney, there is a gym in Maple Lawn. It's called Coreworks Fitness and is in the office building between the Pearl and M&T Bank.

I'd love a good sit-down breakfast place to go in Maple Lawn, something family-friendly and casual.

My husband wants a good bakery, something like a cross between Touche Touchet and Great Harvest Breadery to come in, perhaps in the old Pizza Fresca place?

HowChow said...

@Lisa -- Is there a sign for Coreworks? I had never heard that. Have you heard anything about the Pizza Fresca spot?

BTW, Sidamo's does breakfast sandwiches. I wonder if they'd actually make you scrambled eggs or other items in the morning. Their actual offerings is far broader than their written menu. I have never understood why they don't have printed menus or a bigger chalkboard.

Penny said...

Capogiro ... (drools) ... how I love Capogiro. The only gelato I'd pay ten dollars a pint for, and still think I scored. I have thought of joining their fed-ex club, where they mail seasonal flavors to you periodically over the year.

If I had the money, I'd open a cheese shop.

Nolagirl said...

My vote is for an Atwater's--like the one in Belvedere Square. They have a fabulous menu of unique soups, creative sandwiches served on Atwater's homemade breads, as well as salads. Yummy pastries and desserts too--which they also bake. Menu changes daily. Nothing like it anywhere in the county.

Steve Fine said...

HoCo needs a Sonic, a good Lebanese/Syrian place, more Vietnamese places (with the sandwiches), a place like Chez Panise, a real Jewish Deli, a real Cajun/Nola place, a Spanish place, and a real German Restaurant/Rathskeller.

Cate in Columbia said...

I'd actually love to see a Panara Bread or something similar. I work in the area and I'd love a place where you can get a great breakfast sandwich, coffee, or a great salad. The only place for breakfast currently is the gas station, though they have a pretty nice deli, its not a place to sit down and have your quick meal.
One restaurant I would LOVE to see in HoCo is Brio Tuscan Grill- owned by the same company that owns PF Changs. Their restaurant in Annapolis is a favorite. I am not a fan of chains, but this one is pretty good.

little audrey said...

Bonefish Grill would be great, or any good seafood restaurant offering steamed crabs, crab cakes and a grilled fish sandwich.

Amelia said...

I'd like to see a place that offered a breakfast sandwich and actually cooked the egg on a grill rather than in the microwave.

fultie said...

Hopefully, the Maple Lawn business developer is able to price the unleased storefronts attractively enough to draw strong interest from a variety of restauranteurs. From what I can tell when I drive by their places, Facci on Johns Hopkins Rd and Looney's Pub in Maple Lawn show it can be done in the area, even though it's not as densely populated as Columbia/EC. One challenge might be the upfront cost to adapt the Calico Corners retail space to make it a restaurant.
I asked the owner of Sidamo's about printed menus - he said one should be coming out shortly. Sidamo's has great coffee, really nice sandwiches, and free wifi (plus expanded breakfast menu to come...). Why be one of the millions of Starbucks fans when you can be a unique Sidamo afficionado. Check it out! ;-)

HowChow said...

@Nolagirl -- "menu changes daily" is so cool. I'm sure that it is horribly difficult from the restaurant, but it does make for a special place.

@Steve -- How badly do you want a Jewish deli? Check out the corned beef at the New York Deli on Snowden River and keep watching HowChow because there are rumors out there.

@fultie -- Does Sidamo do the eggs in the microwave or a griddle? Cate & Amelia both want breakfast sandwiches. I feel like Sidamo had real eggs when I went there.

Marcia said...

I want a good Jewish deli too, so I'm going to be watching you HowChow to see what you post!!

Oh - a Moby Dicks...that would be good.

LC said...

I would love a place from DE to open down's a great sandwich shop, Capriotti's! They are amazing and use real meat, not fake deli stuff!

Morty Abzug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morty Abzug said...

@Howchow --

New York Deli on Snowden isn't a real Jewish Deli. It doesn't even seem to be trying for Jewish Deli; it's got more of an Italian Deli vibe. Italian deli is good, but personally, I prefer Jewish deli. NY Deli does have the best deli corned beef in Howard County (that I've tried), but that's damning with faint praise. I'd rather go through the hassle of making corned beef myself.

Charter Deli is the closest we seem to have to a Jewish Deli. Thanks, Chuck, for pointing it out.
In addition to general deli basics such as corned beef and pastrami, Charter also has (square) knishes, bagels&lox, and even Dr. Brown's cream soda. They're also open reasonably late -- up to 7pm on weekdays. When I go there, I usually get an everything bagel with lox (no cream cheese, no onion, yes tomato), a potato knish, and a Dr. Brown's cream soda.

Charter Deli is located on the ground floor of an office building on Charter Drive, off Hickory Ridge Road, southeast of the hospital and west of Howard County Community College.

But even Charter is a compromise. Not the best corned beef. Square knishes. No chopped liver, tongue, kishke, matza ball soup, or whitefish.

So I'm with @Steve and @Marcia -- we need a real Jewish deli. And a Lebanese place. And a more authentic Cajun place (serious props to Copeland's for trying.)

Steve Fine said...

I would also like to add that I would love to see a Waffle House in Hoco. I realize that I just lost any foodie cred I might have had. We could also use an Ethiopian restaurant. Although there is a good place nearby in Burtonsville. More Latin and South American places would also be nice. I agree with Morty about the lack of a real Jewish deli. There are several good delis in HoCo, but they are not really Jewish. Does anyone know a real Italian deli in HoCo?

While I'm being long winded, where can one get the best produce in HoCo?

Courtney said...

Coreworks looks like more of a yoga/pilates studio with some cardio equipment (at least from their website). I'm looking for more of a traditional gym like Gold's or Lifetime with group cycle/spinning classes.
A breakfast place would probably do really well in that space. Maybe an upscale diner that offers all day breakfast for those drunkies leaving Looney's with the munchies?

Debra said...

Whole Foods, Whole Foods, Whole Foods!

lucky little bird said...

Mmmm...Lebanese Taverna!

Also, since Sweet closed in Ellicott City, I've really wished for good donuts. (So? I'm pregnant!)

There is a Bonefish Grill on Ritchie Hwy, just past the MVA, in Glen Burnie. Not in HoCo, but closer than Philly!

And there's an new (and newly expanded to include an upstairs) Atwater's on Frederick Rd in Catonsville. (Close enough?)

Run a Game said...

We need a real bohemian cafe.

No liquor license, no fancy food -- just a comfortable place with couches and coffee and baked goods. Maybe simple sandwiches. The now-defunct Blue Cow cafe in Thunder Hill with space and couches. College Perk in College Park minus the liquor license and fire code violations. The Starbucks on Dobbin but a bigger and open late.

We need a place that's open late into the night that's not a bar. We need a place where you can go and have a club meeting, study, play a game of bridge, or just waste away the day. A place where they can afford to let you bum around all day on a measley $20 tab.

Maybe they'd have poetry slams and drum circles and open mic night, or maybe not (we have plenty of those in HoCo).

Sometimes it's not about the food, but the place.

Run a Game said...

Should have also shouted out to Mad City as an example of "almost there!" for the bohemian cafe.

It's just not comfy/relaxed as it could be and most importantly -- not open late. If they were open till 2am, I'd be there every Friday night and many Saturday nights.

Unknown said...

A dead serious bakery much more along the lines of Tartine Bakery ( or Sullivan Street Bakery ( Panera may be a good fit.

HowChow, good call on the about an actual butcher's shop where we are allowed to see the animals we eat instead of only seeing the abysmal plastic wrapped and non-identiable cuts that adorn meat departments in stores everywhere..maybe something along the lines of The Meat-Hook ( with a high quality charcuterie, cheese and wine counter...some lighter fare like sandwhiches. Such a place could also offer a potential better slaughtering alternative to local farmers as opposed to having to send animals to the large "processing" plants (likely lots of licensing issues to overcome).

I second the bahn mi call!

Capogiro Gelato....has anyone been to Pitango Gelato in Fells Point, Baltimore? How does it compare with Capogiro? Pitango is as good as the best Gelato I have eaten in Italy, so if Capogiro is better, a road trip to the Illadelph is in order! --K

Matt said...

While I agree with pretty much everything here, I agree that we need some Cuban pork here asap. My wife would like to see some Puerto Rican specialties somewhere also (guess where she is from..)
I am happy to report that the new center at the corner of Rt 103 and Rt 100 is showing a bakery coming soon to the backside. I say this with reluctance b/c I don't want them running out of everything, but I guess no one gets anything if they don't get our full support : )
I will give the name next time I go to the dry cleaners in the front...In advance, please leave my family some fresh bread everyone!!

BeerGuy said...

Bonefish yes yes yes.

Cajun eh.

Banh Mi definitely.

Deli's the more the merrier.

Ethiopian would be fun.

I'd like a few fast pickup Mexican joints that do breakfast burritos and plates yet stay open real late (midnight or later). We have a ton of "Mexican" food here but its all sitdown, big ticket stuff, I like it how its done in San Diego with competing chains of places like Sombrero that have a huge menu but crank the food out fast and cheap and toss in a salsa station and Horchata machine. No frills.

And overall more late dining options. The only places I can think of that are openly and not grudgingly serving after 10 PM are Victoria, Honey Pig and Pub Dog. Waffle House is a start, but then add to it like the Mexican quick pickup, or have a deli that stays open late, thats great late night food.

Pizzablogger said...

A real deal Porchetta stand would be interesting....

Anonymous said...

Moving to columbia after living in colorado . . . we miss a really awesome breakfast joint. Correct me if i am wrong but i think Miss Shirly's of baltimore is the only place that has a good breakfast.
The kind of place were you can get a strong coffee, fresh oj, benneight (sp?) a place were you actually bump into people and start to recognize them, like you know community!

KimD said...

Boy am I ever late to the table. What would I like to see here in Ho Co? A Mike's American Grill. I drive all the way to Alexandria/Springfield just to eat their wonderful food and experience their great service. A chain? Yes, but a small one. I would much preferred having Mike's at Columbia Mall instead of Cheesecake Factory or Uno. Let the rockthrowing begin. :-)