Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sarah and Desmond's Appears To Be Closed

Sarah & Desmond's Bakery and Cafe in downtown Ellicott City appears to be closed. I had heard comments about this, and Wordbones found a district court notice taped to the door yesterday -- as he posted on the Tales of Two Cities blog. Wendi of Bon Appetit Hon emailed me that she saw vendor invoices taped to the door as well.

Sarah & Desmond's was a unique little cafe and coffee shop. I always hope that people's troubles are temporary, but the shop will be missed if they're truly gone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Want To Buy Java Grande?

The Java Grande coffee shop in Ellicott City may be for sale, at least according to Ken who pointed to the following advertisement on Craigslist:
COFFEE HOUSE FOR SALE. Turn Key Coffee House business for SALE. This beautiful, spacious, 2 year old coffee house is ripe for a new enthusiastic, sales focused owner. This coffee cafe is located on a busy route, at a light in a prime location for thousands of travelers to pass everyday. . . . This coffee house is beautifully decorated with large windows that allows customers to enjoy memorable sun rises and sunsets. . . . For a $229,000 investment, the new owner can simply turn the key and begin a new venture in the coffee business. . . .
The ad doesn't identify the coffee house. Ken's comment says the ad is for Java Grande. Certainly, the description -- Ellicott City, busy route, at a light, large windows -- sounds like Java Grande and not really anything else that comes to mind. I had posted in early December about a commenter who had heard talk about a combination of Java Grande and the pottery shop a few doors down -- although an anonymous comment there said Java Grande wasn't closing.

Click here for my take on coffee shops in Howard County.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Have You Heard About a Downtown Ellicott City Cafe Closing?

Not 100% sure what is going on, so I'm fishing to see if anyone has news about a downtown Ellicott City cafe closing.

I'm being coy about the name because I don't want to wrongly say that someone closed if they're just taking a week off for the holidays. But someone posted a credible-looking comment saying they're closed for good, and no one is answering the phone at the cafe. Email me if you know more.

(Update: Sarah & Desmond's Bakery & Cafe appears to have closed.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Link: House of India on Technology & MSG

House of India turned out great food, and Alex of the Technology & MSG blog turned out way better photos than I can ever get at the Columbia restaurant.

Alex wrote a positive review about House of India's lunch buffet -- noting the "subtly regal" interior and highlighting the quality and variety of the buffet.

Click here for my post about the best Indian restaurants in Howard County.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Facci Ristorante -- Wood Fired Pizza Replacing Pasta Blitz In Laurel

A piece of the local Pasta Blitz chain will be changings its name and menu -- and they're bringing wood-fired competition to Coal Fire Pizza.

Beth sent me an email yesterday about stopping at Pasta Blitz on Johns Hopkins Road to discover people building a wood-fired pizza oven and planning a January name change to Facci Ristorante:

I stopped in at my local Pasta Blitz today to get a gift certificate today and the owner (Mr. Gino Palma-Esposito-per his business card) told me that the name and menu are changing January 6th. It will be Facci- ristorante-wood fire pizza-winebar. The fire hearth was being built as I stood there.

He assured me that the gift certificate will be good at the new place and that they will make anything from the current menu that's not on the new menu. Great for my elderly neighbor who loves the place.

Pasta Blitz is a big deal around here, although it hasn't been a regular place for me. So I broke my "no reporting for the blog" rule and called the Clarksville Pasta Blitz where Esposito was happy to talk about the new Facci Ristorante.

The Pasta Blitz on Johns Hopkins Road will be changing to Facci and going for a "city feeling," according to Esposito. They're going to have a bar and full service. He says they're trying to keep prices down, but they sound like they're aiming to compete with casual dining places like La Palapa Too, Victoria Gastropub, etc. They're aiming for a private, soft opening on January 6 and a public opening around January 11.

Facci's wood-fired pizza oven could be spectacular. Esposito is from Naples, and he is importing tomato, cheese and flour for an authentic taste that he says require Italian ingredients. Think $10 for a personal margherita pizza. As I have written before, I know it is hard to deliver reliable, great food. But I'm a fan of Coal Fire on Rte 108 even when it isn't perfect, and Johns Hopkins Road is close enough that I could walk there in the next blizzard if the pizza is good enough.

Again, Facci is only replacing the Pasta Blitz next to the JHU Applied Physics Lab. Officially, it's Laurel, but it is really caught between Columbia and Fulton. If Facci is a hit, Facci said he might change the Clarksville location, but that's in the future. First, we'll need a review of Facci by the Pizzablogger.

Facci Ristorante (as of January 2010)
7530 Montpelier Road
Laurel, MD 20723-6014
(301) 604-5555

NEAR: This is on Johns Hopkins Road just west of Rte 29. It is a shopping center that includes La Palapa Too and Kloby's Smokehouse. This is just south of Columbia and just north of Fulton.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Halal "Rice Crispies" At Columbia Halal Meat

The rice crispy treat is a holy dessert in the HowChow family. Mrs. HowChow doesn't like cake, so we cut a giant rice and marshmallow treat in the midst of our wedding reception.

Columbia Halal Meat in Elkridge specializes in, well, halal meat, but they have a pretty good rice crispy treat for sale at the cash register under the brand Halal Crispy Treats -- 59 cents each, two for a dollar.

Most pre-packaged treats are failures, either too sweet or a soft texture that misses the original. Mrs. HowChow loved Starbucks' version, but someone messed with that recipe about a year ago. In our taste test, we split on the Halal Crispy Treat. I thought it was good -- noticeably less sweet than the official supermarket Rice Crispie Treats and a definite snack options. Mrs. HowChow wants her told Starbucks treat back. She thought the Halal Crispy Treat still had a chemical taste common to prepackaged versions. (They're all still better than the Cheerios and Tang bars that my healthy mother served in decades past.)

If you're looking for more-traditional baked goods, check out my post about the best bakeries in Howard County.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grace Garden For Christmas

'Tis the season to try some authentic Chinese food.

Grace Garden in Odenton says that they'll be on open on Christmas, and this is your chance to sample -- or to go back for -- the authentic dishes that get so many people up in a twist.

For more than a year, I have thought Grace Garden was one of Howard County's best restaurant although it is actually a little east of the county line. Even with that, our dinner two weeks ago was better than anything that we have ever had before.

For the first time, we tried the fish noodles and the braised pork, and I haven't eaten anything better all year. The noodles are literally noodles made from ground fish. They have the texture of rustic pasta, and a mild flavor that says meat without being fishy at all. I have no idea how Chef Li puts that together, and, if anything, the pork is an even greater mystery. This is pork belly -- the same cut that people use for bacon. But Grace Garden serves pork that is crispy and tender, a flavor of pork and the spicy sauce. No greasiness at all. We
rounded out with the pea shoots to get some vegetable on the plate, and we packed up containers with leftover pork and pea shoots. (The fish noodles don't reheat well, we were told. So we finished them happily.)

After my first review of tofu pockets and braised beef, I thought this was the best Chinese restaurant in Howard County, but Mrs. HowChow stayed loyal to Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro. The fish noodles and pork pulled her across. While we were still at the table, we were already talking about a Christmas return. Still haven't tried the head-on shrimp that Kevin talks up, but we'll try something new.

Click here for my original post about Grace Garden, which links to a bunch of other bloggers and directions to the Odenton restaurant.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Three Months To Free Rita's (And Spring)

Three months until spring. Just three months until spring -- measured officially by opening day at Rita's when they give away Italian ice from noon to 10 pm. For more about the March 20, 2010 giveaways, click the Rita's Facebook page. Hold on -- the warmth will return.

Thanks to Brian G for the reminder that spring will come. If you need another reminder of spring, check out my 2009 post about places to enjoy ice cream on a summer night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chick'n Pollo To Open Jan. 7 In Columbia

The Peruvian chicken place in Hickory Ridge Village Center should open on January 7 -- at least according to the guys walking out of Chick'n Pollo on Tuesday evening.

I reported by accident. I went past Chick'n Pollo in the hopes of grabbing dinner, but I arrived to find three guys locking up the doors. The restaurant looks just as ready to go as it did in mid-November. But the guys -- who looked like a manager/owner and a contractor -- said that they just got their final approval from the county.

They said they'll open on January 7. The menus suggest that they'll sell Peruvian chicken, along with Mexican food. They're on the back side of Hickory Ridge -- closer to the Luna Bella Pizzeria than the Giant.

Until Chick'n Pollo opens, you need to get your Peruvian chicken at Pollo Fuego in Jessup. Or check out the great fried chicken at Chick N' Friends in the Long Reach Village Center in Columbia.

HowChow: The Worm Edition

I'm reviewing garbage. Seriously.

When you want food for yourself, you'll find great stuff at Howard County's organic markets. But you should ask at the same markets to get some food for your worms. Roots in Clarksville and MOM's Organic Market in Jessup will happily give you their old produce to add to your compost pile. They're crucial at this time of year when I have piles of shredded leaves, but no grass clippings on the horizon.

 Last winter, I got two pick-up loads of leaves and mixed in a dozen or more boxes of old vegetables over the course of the winter -- turning the pile every week or two and adding more vegetables when nothing recognizable remained. By spring, I had spectacular compost to start my own vegetable garden and a few thousand worms happily crawling through the pile.

Of course, this is a review. All trash is not created equal -- at least, it isn't packaged equally. First, Roots has a salad bar, so half of the trash is trimmings and cutting that break down fast. Second, Roots stores its trash in plastic bags. I'm super-grateful to MOM's for giving me their stuff, but it's often in open-slat produce boxes, which have leaked liquid in my car. Not a crisis, but you want to put down plastic to catch the liquid.

No  matter where you get the vegetables, you can break up any whole fruit by either stamping on it or cutting it with the edge of a shovel. Apples, squash, and cucumbers all compost faster if you bust them up and expose their inner flesh to the worms and bacteria that do your composting work.

In all seriousness, nothing improves a garden like compost, and nothing makes better compost than a mix of organic fruits and vegetables. Your worms will love you for it.

If you're going to get old vegetables, call ahead in the morning, and the produce folks will generally set aside a few bags/boxes for you. They like you to pick up in the afternoon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Biscuits At Victoria Gastropub

The photo is terrible, but the biscuits at Victoria Gastropub are one of the great food trinkets that you'll get around here.

House of India puts out papad as you peruse the menu. But that's the only competition that I remember for the square biscuits that I ate as I faked reading the options at Victoria.

Like I was going to order anything other than the best burger in Howard County. They put out a basket right after the water glasses. I had the time to split the biscuit in half and spread butter thinly across each piece in turn. Absolutely delicious, then a smile when Mrs. HowChow asked for a second basket.

(Update: I posted again about Columbia's Victoria Gastro Pub in 2010.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bon Fresco To Start Breakfast This Week

The talk at Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery in Columbia is that breakfast service may start as early as this week, including egg sandwiches on the bakery's own breads.

(Update: See Momteachs comment below that breakfast hasn't happened and isn't on the plans in May 2010.)

Bon Fresco on Oakland Mills Road at Snowden River Parkway is a real treasure. They serve fresh, flavorful fillings on their own baguettes, ciabattas, and other breads. These are interesting, intelligent sandwiches that really qualify as one of my best restaurants in Howard County.

Saturday, we stopped to split a sandwich on the way to Target, and we were very happy to see every table full. We stopped back for a baguette that became French toast on Sunday morning.
Breakfast will be another way to get our Bon Fresco bread!

"Japanese" Peanuts At Panam Supermarket

Imagine an M&M remade by some crazy modern chef.

You enrobe a peanut with a tasty coating and crunchy shell. But instead of sweet milk chocolate and a candy shell, you create a savory shell from flour and starch and then dust each one with chili powder.

That savory shell makes a snacks that classy enough for a cocktail party. That chili powder provides a zesty bite -- so zesty that my stomach noticed after about the 10th handful. I put the peanuts aside to avoid a chili overdose.

Mexican snackers eat these peanuts by the bag. For some reason, they call them Japanese peanuts -- and the only explanations appear on Web sites that seem less than credible.

You can pick up the El Chilar brand Japanese peanuts at the Panam Supermarket in Laurel. Bags are about peanuts are a about $2. If you stop by Panam, definitely check out the produce and the meat department. Also watch for a woman outside the door selling hot tamales and other Mexican food.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tutti Frutti Has Opened In Ellicott City

The tart yogurt trend expanded again without my noticing -- which is why it's lucky that the Kevin & Ann Eat Everything blog wrote last week about the new Tutti Frutti on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.

This is yogurt like the Yogiberry in the Columbia Mall and Mangoberry in Catonsville, but it's better because Kevin reports that there was non-stop mochi. (Although they charge by weight so heavy mochi eaters should still consider buying their own toppings at the H Mart.)

Thanks also to Eric who posted a comment about the opening last week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

WPost Critic Says Bistro Blanc "Worth The Drive"

If you want to go to Bistro Blanc soon, you had better make your reservations today.

On Sunday, food critic Tom Sietsema will publish a two-star review of the Glenelg restaurant in the Washington Post Magazine -- full of comments that you shouldn't miss certain dishes and under a headline saying "worth the drive." Thanks to Trip Klaus for alerting me to the oncoming review. Thanks to HowICook, I got to share the early read.

Congratulations to Raj, Marc and everyone at Bistro Blanc. Originally, I posted the entire review because it was on a public page of the WPost's Web site, but one I was concerned might be linked back to my source. This is just a taste because BillZ found the official page:

Bistro Blanc? The name of the wine shop and restaurant in rural, wealthy Glenelg comes as a bit of a surprise when I make the establishment's acquaintance. Everywhere I look, I see dark evidence to the contrary: red wines, burnt-orange walls, amber lighting and servers in black uniforms.

WPost To Review Bistro Blanc?

There is talk that the WPost's restaurant critic is writing about Bistro Blanc -- the restaurant on Rte 32 in Glenelg that serves the small-plate, seasonal-vegetable trend.

Trip Klaus mentioned the possible review in a comment last week. He says it might be a group review, not a profile of Bistro Blanc. But he says Tom Siemesta has had several telephone interviews, presumably with the restaurant owners.

I have had one terrific evening at Bistro Blanc, but so many other people bolster my good memories that I still think it is one of the best restaurants in Howard County. Any attention from the WPost has to be good -- except, of course, a real pan.

(Update: Bistro Blanc's owner mentioned in a comment that Baltimore Mag is reviewing them too.)

(Update2: Siemesta's review will be out this weekend in the WPost Magazine, but you can also read the Bistro Blanc review here.)

"Secret" Menu At Frisco Grille

The Baltimore Beer Guy tipped me to Frisco Grille's secret menu back when I was bemoaning the fact that Hunan Legend's secret menu wasn't a secret anymore now that I had circulated a translation and the owners had done their own.

To truly parallel the Chinese "secret" menu at Hunan Legend, Frisco's menu would only be readable by people with a slight beer buzz. But the "secret" menu is actually handed to everyone as a little sheet titled "adaptions and new items." Anyone can ask for specials like buffalo chili and a flank steak sandwich with chipotle barbeque sauce, sriracha sauce, avocado and goat cheese.

I have had Gus' Green Tacos -- firm white fish sauted in a mixture of tomatillo sauce and the house-made green hot sauce. It's a nice taco, and I especially liked the mango salsa on the side. I always love food that surprises me. I don't know that I would have ordered tacos with a creamy sauce lined across them. But Gus' Green Tacos had a really nice balance -- little
creamy, little lime-sour and just enough heat to be refreshing. That's a nice addition to a restaurant that serves a southwestern menu with highlights in the burritos and the pub items like onion rings and a unique spicy mustard. The food compliments a beer selection that is more curated and aimed to please beer aficiandos.

Most of the Frisco Grille secret menu is modifications of the regular menu, and they warn that they're mostly served spicy. I doubt they're hitting the heights of the Two Youngs' soon du bu, but that Adam Bowl lists chipotle, two hot sauces and spicy mustard in a single dish.

As the BBG reported last week, Frisco Grille is expanding into the tailor next door. They'll double their beer taps from 20 to 40. (Still no reliable report about where the tailor is going.)

Frisco Grille is one of Howard County best places for beer in Howard County. It is also in a shopping center with several strong places, including Hanamura, Riverside Coffee, Noodles Corner and Pub Dog. Great place to check out some casual food.

Frisco Grille & Cantina
8865 Stanford Boulevard
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: Frisco Grille is off Dobbin Road south of Rte 175 in a shopping center with Pub Dog. From the north, take Rte 175 and turn south on Dobbin Road at the intersection with a Chik-fil-A and a Kmart. The shopping center is on the left after the second light. From the south, take Snowden River Parkway and turn left on McGaw Road at the light with Apple Ford. Turn right at the light with Dobbin, then look for the shopping center on the right.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feast at Shin Chon Garden

Tables have collapsed under less food that Shin Chon Garden spreads out for its sliced meat barbeques.

The restaurant renovated last year to add grilling tables from wall to wall. Each table has a built-in grill with a vent sitting overhead like something from a science fiction movie.

Go to Shin Chon with four people. Pick two orders of meat -- the basic sliced beef bulgogi, some sliced brisket, maybe the kalbi rib meat or the sliced pork. Supplement with something with a few vegetables like the rice and vegetable bowl called dolset bi bim bop.

You'll be shocked at the way that the food flows. First, you'll receive your appetizers like steamed dumplings or a thin omelet. While you're still looking at that, your waitress will clatter down panchan, a half-dozen little bowls of side dishes. Mostly, vegetables like kimchi, seaweed, or lightly-pickled items like cucumbers or radish. A tofu. Maybe potato salad. Maybe shredded meat or a tiny dried fish. Once, we had a salad made with octopus, but you can ask if anything looks too adventurous for you.

Then comes the meat. The waitress will light your grill and bring out a plate with your thin-sliced meat. She'll cover the grill with meat. Then one of you can take the tongs and turn the meat yourself. You don't need to be a top chef. The meat is cut so thin that you just watch it color from raw to cooked. Then, you start serving it out to everyone at your table. Take your time. Grill in three or more rounds so that everyone enjoys a leisurely pace.

You'll get other plates as well -- covered metal bowls of rice and small plates of lettuce leaves. With bulgogi and dolset bi bim bop, we got a bowl of miso soup and an omelet in a cast iron bowl. You want to sample both. Just use a spoon to scoop out omelet. It's extremely hot, but deliciously light. We also got about three different sauces -- one to put on the bulgogi, one to mix into the bi bim bop, and an oil/salt/pepper mixtures that I think was dipping sauce for the brisket.

The beauty of Shin Chon Garden is that you have a dozen flavors -- the panchan, the omelet, the main courses, the sauces. You pick and choose. For bulgogi, you make little wraps with lettuce, rice, meat and the spicy sauce. (Ask for rice noodle squares for an alternative to lettuce.) For the brisket, we dipped in the oil/salt and made more wraps. Alternate with tastes of panchan, which you can just pass around the table.

Shin Chon is one my best restaurants of Howard County because every feast has been delicious. Waitresses are happy to answer questions -- to match each sauce with the appropriate use. Panchan change and offer small new treats. It can also be a bargain. For four people last week, we ordered a steamed dumpling appetizer and three main dishes: two meats and dolset bi bim bop. You're eating a huge shot of vegetables so you leave satisfied, but not engorged.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Is Java Grande Closing/Moving?

Has anyone heard about changes at Java Grande, the coffee shop on Rte 40 near Rte 29?

Kevin posted a comment on my post about coffee shops in Howard County that he had heard about a combination of Java Grande and the pottery shop a few doors down. Either the coffee equipment would move to the potter stop, or the pottery stop would move into Java Grande.

Anyone know more?

(Update: There is an anonymous comment below that says Java Grande is not closing. I'm unclear if I'm supposed to read into the use of "any time soon" and "right now." I'm probably paying too much attention to the details.)

Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday

I went to Rick Bayless for simple Mexican recipes, but he has lured me deeper and deeper into Mexican cooking because flavors outweigh the work in every recipe.

I braised a lamb shoulder last weekend. I hadn't intentionally braised anything before. I hadn't even seen a lamb shoulder. Ironically, Mexican Everyday is Bayless' cookbook of relaxed, simple meals. His Chicago restaurants and his prior books introduced Americans to many Mexican ingredients, but Bayless had a reputation for demanding that people spend hours looking for specific chili varieties and fruit that didn't have English names.

Mexican Everyday (and the accompanying PBS series) was Bayless' chance for accessible recipes. It is worth buying just for the straight-forward tomatillo salsas-- one fresh and one roasted. Tomatillos are available year-round at Lily's Mexican Market or any of the Asian grocery stores, and they still firm a long time in the crisper. The fresh salsa is basically a puree of tomatillos, garlic, chilis and cilantro, and Bayless' instructions have made countless weeknight meals where the salsa is the main flavor with tortillas, cheese and some chicken or beans. That is the entry-level drug that will soon have you trying your hand at jalapeno-baked fish, chipotle shrimp, and a fresh lime sorbet that were all clear and successful.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Columbia Halal Meat in Elkridge

Howard County's butchers have added a spiritual flavor with Columbia Halal Meat that has opened on Rte 108 and stands out for lamb, goat and some other cuts perfect for winter cooking.

Columbia Halal Meat is actually just across the line in Elkridge, but it's worth crossing Rte 108 if you want halal meat or if you're just looking for cuts like the lamb shoulder that I purchased over the weekend.

Columbia Halal Meat is a small Indian grocery store with rice, spices, boxed meals and other items that you can get at any of Howard County's Indian grocery stores like Food Cravings and Desi Market in Columbia and Eastern Bazar or Apna Bazar in Laurel.

As the name promises, Columbia Halal's claim to fame is the small halal butcher in the back. Obviously, the meat is crucial for Muslims who follow the religious rules. But it's an asset for anyone who wants to step outside the supermarket meat section. First, Columbia Halal sells cuts -- like whole lamb shoulders and whole goats -- that you can't just pick up in a plastic tray. Second, the butchers at Columbia Halal handle your order personally.
They're running a bandsaw right in view, and they'll cut your order however you want.

Clearly, not the spot for vegetarians (although I did see Mango Grove flyers next to the cash registers). But it's a resource for people who want that special attention. I bought a lamb shoulder. Initially, I couldn't find the "shoulder" on their list of cuts. I'm such a child of the supermarkets that the butcher had to point out that "leg" and "shoulder" mean the same thing on a sheep. It's not like sheep have arms.

Overall, it's a nice store. A good resources for the basic Indian ingredients if you live near Rte 108. The butchers let me stand around for a while probably because I didn't look their regular customers, but they were happy to help once I explained what I needed. They sell chicken, beef, goat and lamb. Next time, I need to ask if they grind their own beef in the store. I'm looking for a source for hamburger that didn't come from a factory, and Columbia Halal might just be my partner to grill.

For other butchers, check out my post about meat markets in Howard County. The other local option for Halal meat is the Ceazar International Market in Elkridge near Rte 100 and U.S. 1. I haven't looked for meat there in months, but they advertise on their Web site that they have bulked up the offerings.

Columbia Halal Meat
6520 Old Waterlook Road #J
Elkridge, MD 21075

NEAR: This is in the shopping center next to the Food Lion on Rte 108 near Rte 175. Turn into the Food Lion from Rte 108 and turn curve left into the shopping center that also includes a Chinese restaurant and a

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Link: 100 Foodie Ideas For Baltimore

Grab today's Sun for Elizabeth Large's list of the 100 things that a Baltimore foodie must try.

You can also check out the list on the Web. Howard County makes the list, but not well. No. 57 (Image 44) is to check out the Super H or Lotte in Catonsville. No. 64 (Image 47) is to eat pit beef from anywhere without a door -- but the photo is Uncle Grube's in Elkridge. There must be some Howard County gems to replace a few stops on the Sun's tour of "Old World delis."

Definitely check out the Dining @ Large post where Large asked for people's ideas. Inspired by Large's original post, I took a shot in October at a Top 20 "Food Experiences" for Howard County. What else do you suggest?

Coal Fire Pizza Reviewed By The WPost

Coal Fire Pizza got a positive review in today's Washington Post Food section. Writer Martha Thomas liked the signature sauce, and she noted that Coal Fire is making mozzarella in-house daily.

I'm a Coal Fire fan, although people should both peruse the mixed feedback from people who love or hate the crisp coal-oven crust and read the PizzaBlogger's observation that the pizza quality depends on who cooks your pie. I wrote last month about the difficulty of creating consistently great dishes.

I'm doubly impressed that Coal Fire's pizza survived a drive back to Thomas' home. Based on the WPost's abandonment of Howard County, I assume she drove a long way. Long ago, Columbia was so important that the WPost sent interns to cover the regular staff's vacation. (I drove three-hours roundtrip from Virginia for two weeks, and they were too cheap to cover even a penny of mileage.) But I gave up on the WPost covering anything around here. Last time I checked, the Going Out Guide editors hadn't found a single restaurant to recommend in Howard County -- except for Great Sage that they think is in "nothern Montgomery County."

Thanks to emkenton for alterting me to the review. Although the Going Out Guide ignores us, the WPost Food section has, if anything, improved even as newspapers suffer. I read it religiously until the WPost removed its machines from the Laurel MARC station.

If you want to comment about Coal Fire Pizza, please do it on the original post with all the other comments.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Frisco Grille To Expand, Says BBG Blog

Frisco Grille in Columbia will expand and double its beer taps from 20 to 40, according to the Baltimore Beer Guy blog. No firm date, but it's a big plus for one of Howard County's best places for beer.

(Update: The BBG says in a comment below that Frisco is taking over a tailor next door.)