Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Thoughts: RG's BBQ Cafe in Laurel

Spare ribs, collards and corn bread
You have a high-end chef trying to lay low in Laurel -- dishing up barbecue that is very worth the drive to U.S. 1.

You'll know them because it'll be the only hole-in-the-wall dining room that shows the Food Network.

You'll also know them for the food.  Smokey, seared spare ribs, light corn bread, and the best collard greens that I remember eating.

That was my first platter, and it only suggests more good things to find on that menu.  RG's BBQ Cafe is a new restaurant in the U.S. 1 building that used to be the Bar-B-Que House.  It's the same casual spot with counter service and a small dining room.  But it's a new operation.

It's an operation run by Robert Gadsby -- former executive chef at the Biltmore Hotel in LA and a 2007 contestant on Iron Chef America.  I had noticed the new signs, but Gadsby seems to be running a low-key operation with a Groupon, but no new Web site.

He's not going low on the food.  My $14 platter centered on spare ribs -- meaty ribs with a firm bite and smokey flavor.  It was a huge half rack, but the side dishes were the real shock.  Generous portions of special food.  Corn bread with full flavor and the lightest texture.  Collard greens cooked to perfect tenderness and an earthy tone.

If you're honest, you'll admit that the best part of many collard greens is the meat.  I'll dig around good greens to find a burnt end or some other pork.  But RG's greens may be vegetarian.  At least, I didn't see any meat.  I just forked up greens.  It takes real talent to make something that simple taste so delicious.  I ate dinner watching Chopped on the television, and I'm sure that my meal beat everything in the show.

I'm excited to eat more at RG's BBQ Cafe.  This is on my way home, so I'll work through the pulled pork, the baby back ribs, maybe the burger.  There are hot dogs, which I would normally skip but might be special if they're done like the collard greens.

Gadsby is the chef who folks have said may be taking over the Venegas Prime Filet in Fulton.  I need a lookout to watch for a new menu at Venegas.  MoCo wrote a comment last week, saying that folks at Venegas said the new menu could be coming in the next week.  Has anyone seen it?  Tasted it?

RG's BBQ Cafe
9990 N. Washington Street (U.S. 1)
Laurel, MD 20723

(301) 604-2333

NEAR:  RG's BBQ Cafe is the old Bar-B-Que House on U.S. 1 in Laurel.  It's north of Main Street where U.S. 1 has split into separate north-bound and south-bound lanes.  RG's BBQ Cafe is on the south-bound side.

RG's BBQ Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fried Chicken From Honey Chicken In Catonsville

Fried chicken and pork at Honey Chicken
Once upon a time, we had to go to Woodbine for special fried chicken.  Now, the crispy treat is running up and down Rte 40.

The newest entry is Honey Chicken -- a counter in the new Lotte in Catonsville -- and we used a Groupon for an entire platter of chicken and pork.  Some wings, some legs, pork cutlets stuffed with cheese, and a mix of spicy and mild white-meat.

This is a nice addition to the Korean fried chicken at Tian Chinese Cuisine and Bon Chon in Ellicott City.  It's not a restaurant.  It's more a lunch spot.  Or takeout.  We ate our chicken at one of the two tables before shopping at Lotte.

Our favorite of the Honey Pig chicken was the white meat nuggets.  Mrs. HowChow generally prefers white meat, but I usually go wings.  I snapped up the bite-sized pieces.  The spicy wasn't that hot -- nothing like Bon Chon's over-the-top.  But I bought an extra hot sauce to spice it up.

The Honey Chicken sits next to the Honey Pig Dumpling counter.  They're both great spots to eat before you fill your shopping cart.  They're also good for takeout.  A little steam reheats the dumplings, and the chicken stayed crisp even after a little while in the oven.

Honey Chicken (aka Honey Pig Chicken)
6600 Baltimore National Pike
Catonsville, MD 21228
(443) 341-6355

NEAR: Honey Chicken is inside the Lotte Supermarket on Rte 40 in Catonsville. It's an easy drive from Ellicott City. Lotte is on the left side just after the first car dealerships. Inside Lotte, go to the left wall. Honey Chicken is next to the Honey Pig Dumpling stand.

Honey Chicken on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Is Cindy Wolf Considering A Spot in Columbia?

I always weigh whether to write about rumors.  This blog is a hobby meant to share foods and news, so I have two major rules on rumors:  only good news, only rumors about big-time people.

This qualifies:  Cindy Wolf may be opening a restaurant on the lake in downtown Columbia, specifically in the space that used to be Red Pearl next to Sushi Sono and across from Clyde's.

It started with an anonymous comment earlier today that says people are talking about Wolf opening a French restaurant.  But I worked out a few other things that make me think this is true.  Certainly, the Howard Hughes folks have big plans for the Red Pearl space, what with the nearby Whole Foods slated for 2014.  I'm hoping that other people might know more details -- or even be able to get someone to officially confirm the news.

Plus, I'm full up with Cindy Wolf excitement.  In a coincidence, we ate dinner last night at Petit Louis, the current French outpost of the Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf empire.  A blowout for us and worth every dollar.  They run spectacular restaurants.  With almost no inherent interest in French food, I had a wonderful night.  Great food.  Great wine.  Great people.

Mrs. HowChow and I ate at their first restaurant, Charleston, on one of our early dates.  The Foreman-Wolf hallmark is great food, but it's the wait staff that feels almost unique -- serious about food, but friendly to everyone.  They know when to talk food in detail.  They know when to leave you alone.  Last night, our Petit Louis waitress looked impossibly young, and she handled us perfectly with real advice and a light touch -- figuring out quickly that she had overestimated our knowledge of wine, then suggesting terrific glasses.

A Foreman-Wolf restaurant would be great fun in Columbia.  That Red Pearl space was big for a Chinese restaurant, but I assume it could handle a higher-end space.  I hope it would be a good neighbor to Sushi Sono.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Restaurants Are Coming (& Some Are Here); Tigi's Ethiopian, Highland, B&B, Shilla And More

Indian coming to Fulton
'Tis the season for new restaurants.  Tigi's Ethiopian has opened on Rte 40, reports Bella.  That's the first Ethiopian in the county as far as I know.

But it won't be the last new restaurant around here.

We have an entire list of places under construction, including the Highland Inn in Highland, Bean & Burgandy Cafe in Ellicott City, the unnamed Indian restaurant in Fulton, and the Shilla bakery and Ernesto's Fine Mexican on Rte 40.

Tigi's is on my "to do" list -- along with the chicken bulgogi that Kristi found at Lighthouse Tofu.

Anyone know more news?  Opening dates?  Menu plans?  I see a few Web sites that say "coming soon," but I don't know any more.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekend Plan: Sweet, Sweet, Springtime

Thomas Waffles!  Clarkville!
Sweet springtime has arrived, and you can sweeten your weekend with a few short drives.

Thomas Waffles sets up Saturday morning in the parking lot of Kendall Hardware on Rte 108 in Clarksville.  It's a terrific treat.  It's a nice inspiration to get up and start your chores -- get a waffle on your way to buy that grass seed, pick up some mulch, etc.

I'm trying to restart a Friday series with ideas for your weekend.  Three links on a theme to inspire you to get around:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vote For Howard County's Best Restaurants

You can vote on Howard County's best restaurants in Howard Magazine's annual survey of the best places to eat.

The survey is now on-line, and you can vote through May 1 on the Sun's Web site.  New categories:  Best cupcakes and best seafood.

Thanks for Jim who noted the link in a comment.

Comments About Xitomate, Pure WIne Patio, And Recs For Sausage, Growlers And Chinese

Dumplings at Curry & Kabobs
People keep hitting up Xitomate, the new Mexican in Columbia.  They're working through the menu and offering some advice -- S., Stephanie and Clayton all had nice things to say, but concerns about heat and spiciness.

That's the fun of HowChow comments.  People offering advice and news.  Wendi emailed that the deli appears open at the new Randy and Steve's food store.  She also said gave more information about the new patio coming to Pure Wine Cafe:
Pure is in our (Alexander Design Studio's) retail space on Main Street. In addition to the patio space (and how great is that going to be?), there will be a small dining mezzanine and additional bathroom. I believe there may also be a wine cave that takes advantage of the unique site challenges that you run into when the building is built into a hill with large boulders and bedrock.

The work has been going on for a few months and now but I think we are really in the home stretch. There was a new door cut through the building for patio access. Drywall is up. Paint is going on the new walls. Tile is going down.
But there is more!  People post comments and questions.  It's a great place to learn -- or to give answers to folks in need.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Columbia Clyde's Has Reopened

Has the Clyde's open on the lakefront in Columbia?

They're renovating the Clyde's, but Clayton emailed me to say people seemed to be eating dinner there last night.  Exterior construction was continuing, but people seemed to be eating inside.

Anyone know the details?

(Update:  Clyde's is open in Columbia.  See the comments.)

Here Comes Spring! Strawberry Sign At Gormans

Here comes spring!  Gorman Farms in Laurel has posted the strawberries signs.

Still just "Coming Soon."  But it's exciting just to know that the fields are ripening.

Obviously, the pick-your-own will start when the plants are ready.  Last year, it started the first week of May.  Two years ago, my friend picked the last strawberries in early June.

So keep an eye on the sign and let me know!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bobby Flay Coming To Columbia Next Week

Bobby Flay is coming to the Columbia Wegmans next Wednesday, and you can pick up free tickets to get his new book signed.

Flay is a chef and a television personality.  I'm not a huge celebrity chef guy, but I have always enjoyed his television and his books.  I bet he puts on a good show.

The Wegmans appearance is 6-8 pm on April 24, 2013.  Flay is selling his new book Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction.  You need to buy the book from Wegmans (30% off).  You can pick up vouchers now to get your copy of Barbecue Addiction signed next week.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Venegas Sold To Houston Chef? Changing From A Steakhouse, Bringing Some Celebrity Chef Flair?

Venegas Prime Filet in Fulton may be getting a new owner, a new concept, and a taste of celebrity chef flair.

Robert Gadsby -- former executive chef at the Biltmore Hotel in LA and a 2007 contestant on Iron Chef America -- wants to take over the restaurant in Maple Lawn.  I hear that the deal is real, although they're taking the slow approach on changes and publicity, which seems impressive and thoughtful to me.

Gadsby worked with Ridgwells caterers, according to a Foodie-ism blog profile and a Bethesda Magazine article from 2011.  Now there is a LinkedIn page that says he runs RG's Bar-b-que Cafe in Houston.  I hope some real food reporters can get more details.  I hear that the sale is contingent on working with the developer.  No huge changes now, but Gadsby wants to move from steakhouse to a new cuisine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bake Sale To Fight Kids' Hunger By Local Blog

Salted caramel cupcakes by Jackie
Eat sweet and help raise money to fight children's hunger with the La Casa De Sweets blog.

Jackie from La Casa has done past bake sales, but she is offering delivery as well this year.  She is 
selling cupcakes and cookies to raise money for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry program.

Three kinds of cupcakes at $20 a dozen -- chocolate salted caramel, lemon mascarpone, chocolate peanut butter.  Three kinds of cookies at $10 a dozen -- chocolate chip, fudgy brownie, and peanut butter oatmeal.  Check out the details on Jackie's blog.

Every dollar raised will go to the charity.  She is taking orders until April 22 and delivering the week of April 29.  Treat for your office?  Fun for your family?  Support kids.  Have fun with a local blogger.  Eat well.

You can email Jackie for more information at lacasadesweets@gmail.com.  You can even run your own bake sale -- check out Jackie's blog for more.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pure Wine Cafe Getting A New Patio

Permission to expand?
The Pure Wine Cafe is on my list of places to return in Ellicott City.  We have a few Main Street places that we want to keep in mind as the weather warms up.

Pure Wine does great small plates, and it's getting bigger, reports Wordbones on Tales of Two Cities.  I had noticed a building permit on our last walk down Main Street, but Wordbones asked around and got the full story -- an expanded dining room and a new patio that sits above Main Street.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Anywhere Know Where To Find Chicken Bulgogi?

Does anyone know a local spot with good chicken bulgogi?

We met my parents for lunch in Fairfax, and the restaurant did a mixed plate with beef, pork belly and chicken.  Terrific variety, and we haven't seen chicken on barbecue menus in Ellicott City.

I'd love a local recommendation.  My next stop may be to get a group large enough to try octopus at Shin Chon.  (Not a Mrs. HowChow favorite.)  But I'd love to try chicken as well.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sonic Coming To Rte 40 In Ellicott City

Sonic Drive-In appears to be coming to Rte 40 in Ellicott City and has posted its first sign -- or at least the first sign that I have seen.

Kathy spotted the sign above on Rte 40 west of Rte 29.  It's the former site of 84 Lumber near Bethany Lane.  On the real estate sign, someone added a sign that says "Join Sonic."

Anyone know the time table?  I remember talk about Sonic in 2010, but I hadn't heard anything recently.  All that I see are some comments about rumors on an Ellicott City Patch page.

(Update:  I had a vibe that Kathy and I were late to the burger party.  Wordbones wrote about the Sonic a year ago.  And Leeann provides a Facebook link below where the Sonic folks say that they hope to break ground this summer.)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Link: Check Out Local Farm Reviews on AnnieRie

If you're interested in local farms as spring arrives, check out the upcoming posts on the AnnieRie Unplugged blog.

AnnieRie started with England Acres and talks up the meats and eggs on top of vegetables.  I have only had fresh eggs a few times -- most recently amid the Great Refrigeration Debate of 2010 -- and I want to try them again.  Bookmark AnnieRie's food posts because she is going to write about more farms soon.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Frozen Gourmet Pasta At C&B Italian Dely

Ravioli and tomato sauce
Want a quick dinner from your freezer?  Want a meal straight from Little Italy?

You can have your ravioli and eat them too if you pick up a frozen package from C&B Italian Dely in Ellicott City.

The $6 container from Frank Velleggia's Casa di Pasta isn't officially a bargain where you can buy a box of pasta for under $2.  But the ravioli makes a pretty special dinner for two.  I pulled the container from the freezer.  I pulled a jar of sauce made from Larriland tomatoes, and we ate with almost no work.
Our Casa di Pasta ravioli was stuffed with ricotta.  A real flavor, but mostly mild and creamy.  Definitely a step up from takeout, and you could jazz up the flavor with a more-interesting sauce.  I don't remember if C&B had other pastas in the freezer, but Casa di Pasta makes a bunch of varieties in Baltimore.  I need to check it out next time.

If you haven't visited, C&B Italian Dely is on Rte 40 east of Rte 29.  Consider a sandwich if you visit.  Also check out the Turkish Family Market and its pistachio candy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Celebrities Come To ______, Like Kloby's BBQ

The Minx Eats crew came to Howard County, and they raved about the barbecue at Kloby's Smokehouse.

Kathy and Neal Patterson wrote the book about Baltimore food -- literally with their Food Lovers' Guide To Baltimore.  But they came down Rte 29 for ribs, wings and other items at Kloby's.   In the Minx Easts post, they raved about the "dirty and old" wings and the ribs.

But even the experts need to be corrected.  The post office may think Kloby's is in Laurel, but we need to draw the line.  As in -- Laurel is east of Rte 29.  Just because the Applied Physics Lab folks wanted to sound like they're near DC, we don't need live a lie.  Johns Hopkins Road isn't Laurel.

It's Tribeco.  ;-)

Harris Teeter Has Opened Near Turf Valley (And It's Getting A New Facci Down The Row)

New Harris Teeter
The Harris Teeter has opened on Marriottsville Road near Turf Valley, and Adam checked it out.

The Teeters tend to be pretty similar.  There is one in Columbia and one in Fulton.  Adam, who blogs at Option Pitch and Waffle Crisp, gave his report:
Pros: Nice interior. Free Cookies for Kids. Good Looking Baked Goods and Pizza. Good selection of basically everything. 
New Facci
Cons: Who pays 1.29/lb for cabbage? Produce and meat prices are high. Hand holding in the store. Funky exiting for parking.
But Adam was really excited by the Facci under construction in the shopping center.  The original Facci Ristorante is on Johns Hopkins Road just off Rte 29.  The owners converted a Pasta Blitz into a casual place with big Italian inspirations -- wood-fired pizzas, some homemade pastas, meat and cheese plates, and a fun, serious take on wine and Italian food.  Now, the north county can get a taste.

Anyone know the timing for the new Facci to open?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Curry and Kabob Brings Nepalese To Columbia (With Indian As Well If You're Branching Out)

Chicken thali at Curry and Kabob
You gotta get to Wilde Lake because this Nepalese food isn't going to eat itself.

Curry and Kabob opened last month in Columbia with a new contribution to Howard County -- a Nepalese menu on top of a northern Indian mix of naan, tandoori and curries.

We went last night, and it's a talented kitchen in a personable restaurant.  Nepalese -- at least to a foreigner's palate -- tastes like a cousin of Indian food.  There are some dumplings and the option for goat, but these are dishes welcome to anyone who likes Indian, plus a twist.

Our table at Curry & Kabob was a real twist.  We started with momos, a steamed dumpling with chicken, vegetables and spices.  They come with a deliciously spicy sauce that looks like tomato.  We kept more than half to save stomach space.

For the main course, we split two.  We went vegetarian for dhajara aalu, a dish made with potatoes and thin-sliced radish.  The radishes were apparently dried, then cooked back tender with the potatoes and a thick sauce.  We went flashy with the chicken thali, a metal tray with rice and a half-dozen small dishes.  Chicken, lentils, two different vegetables, yogurt and rice pudding for dessert.

Each dish showed off the kitchen's skill.  I almost passed on the thali because it had "mixed vegetables," but those turned out to be sautéed watercress with a light sauce.  They contrasted with the earthiness of the lentils and the mushroom-potato-pea curry.

We eat a bunch of Indian.  We love places like Royal Taj and Mango Grove.  But there is a frisson with something new.  Just the lentils were different and interesting.  The radish was spicy and beautifully tender, and I've never seen anything similar.  Go for the new stuff like goat curries and Nepalese vegetables, but be confident that you can order from a full Indian menu like samosas, curries, and tandoori specials.

Now go!  These were wonderful folks at Curry & Kabob.  They chatted us all night.  They explained dishes.  At the end, they asked us to send our friends.  It's a new place, and it's a tough place to run a business since that isn't the business shopping center.  So go!

For more suggestions, check out the comments on yesterday's post.  Curry & Kabob has a lunch buffet, and Clayton recommend a goat curry.  Does anyone know "dhedo?"  The waiter described it as mashed grains.  It comes on some thali variations, and I want to try next time.

Curry & Kabob Restaurant
10451 Twin River Road
Columbia, MD-21044

NEAR: Curry & Kabob is in the Wilde Lake village center. This is just west of the Columbia Mall. Twin River Road comes off Governor Warfield Parkway and runs into Wilde Lake. The shopping center is on the left.  Curry & Kabob is a few doors down from the Melting Pot and the Bagel Bin.

Curry & Kabob Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Nepalese-Indian Spot In Wilde Lake

Columbia has a new Indo-Nepalese restaurant in the Wilde Lake village center -- replacing the former Tokyo Cafe with some unique options.

Curry & Kabob Restaurant has been open at least a week with a menu that looks welcoming for folks who like other northern Indian restaurants -- curries, tandoor chicken, biryani, etc.  But the Nepalese page is new to me -- a bunch of vegetarian dishes, some goat curries and more.

I have been planning a trip since Clayton first mentioned this.  Jessie X and Matthew both emailed me, so we should get people checking Curry & Kabob out.

Curry & Kabob Restaurant
10451 Twin River Road
Columbia, MD-21044

NEAR:  Curry & Kabob is in the Wilde Lake village center.  This is just west of the Columbia Mall.    Twin River Road comes off Governor Warfield Parkway and runs into Wilde Lake.  The shopping center is on the left.