Tag Archives: Last-minute

House Rules: Making Multiple Restaurant Reservations

Getting a table at your favorite restaurant is seldom a pressing problem in the Baltimore restaurant scene. The only place that ever seems to have much of a wait is the interminable, befuddling Cheesecake Factory at Harborplace. They might as well call that place the Waiting Factory. We never understood it. Apparently suburban fatties really like their cheese in cake form, and are willing to queue up for it.

Anyway, while waits aren’t generally a problem, there are certain nights when restaurants do crowd up. Baltimore Restaurant Week is now in full swing, and one of the busiest dining nights of the year, Valentine’s Day, is right around the corner. On big dining evenings like that, most people just pick out their favorite place, zero in on the hot new buzzed-about spot, or pick the nicest restaurant they can afford, try to get a reservation, and then hope the kitchen and waitstaff don’t get horribly backed-up in the weeds. We’ve got a better idea.

If you want a table for two for Valentine’s Day, you should have reserved not one, not two, but six tables last week. (Or you can still try to do it right now.)

Hear us out on this. Reservations are free to make. It doesn’t cost you anything at all. They’re also very easy to make if you are acting well in advance. We’d never suggest that you make a reservation in bad faith and hold up the table, we’re just saying that the restaurant business is business, and your dealings with the restaurant are, in a sense, business dealings.

You’re in competition for a place at the table, literally, with other customers, and making three, four or half a dozen reservations early will place you at a competitive advantage against them. As the date draws closer and the prix fixe menus are released, the New Year’s entertainment is announced, or your after-dinner plans are finalized you can better make your decision, a business decision, on where to dine.

After you’ve decided where to dine, you can easily cancel those reservations you’re not going to use. Remember, it’s just business. The hostess or floor manager is not your boss. Neither are they your parents, college professor or landlord. You don’t need a good reason to cancel a reservation. You don’t even need a poor excuse. You’re the boss. When it comes down to it, the restaurant and the other diners may even be relieved and happy to see a table open up at the last minute and get some breathing room.

As an added benefit, you may be able to help out someone you know by virtue of your advance planning. Maybe a friend of yours screwed around and forgot to make that Valentine’s reservation until too late. Maybe one of your in-laws was going to be out of town, and now will be staying around, but stuck eating at Sip and Bite. You can always tip them off to one of your extra reserved tables, with the restaurant being none the wiser. If you do this often enough, you’re going to be using made up names anyway. Just be sure to give each reservation the same name, as to avoid confusion, and change that name the next time you go out to eat.

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New Year’s Eve 2011 in Baltimore

Here we are, Baltimore, at the end of the year. You might expect your Mobbies winner for best nightlife blog to give you some kind of nice little round up about all the fun things that are going on around town tonight. Nope. We say balls. We already went on record last year as coming out against the amateur hours that are drinking holidays, and New Years’ is the worst of the lot.

Our approach to New Years’ has always been that we’ll go out if and only if we can do it cheaply and easily and if we have a reasonable expectation of actually enjoying the evening. This year, there’s not one thing that came to our attention so we’re staying the hell inside. Gonna get some Chinese food, or maybe roll some sushi, crack open some of that good Christmas booze, watch a couple movies and probably fall asleep at 11:30, just in time to be awakened by one of Baltimore’s favorite NYE traditions… random gunfire.

Montreal. Maybe next year.

So instead you get a post about what we’re not doing. We’re not having anyone over for a late-night sit down dinner. That would have been a pretty decent idea if we’d thought of it a month ago. With New Year’s day being on a Saturday, that would have been another good day for entertaining. Meh. We’re still not fully in the habit of entertaining at home. Next time we’re around for the holidays, we’re going to make sure to host dinner.

We’re also not going to hop on a jet. We’ve been mostly pretty bored all month, and we’re anticipating a pretty dull weekend, so we thought why not throw a few shirts in a bag and go some place? Some place not close but not too far, that we’re not sick of yet; maybe Chicago, New Orleans or Toronto. How cool would it be to say bonne année from Montreal?

At a time when most people are expecting big credit card bills in the mail, we’re anticipating a lot of back rent and BGE money due from roommate. We also took most of our Christmas gifts in cash, so what the hell? Turns out New Year’s weekend is not the ideal time to jump on a last-minute-super-saver-William-Shatner type deal. If we wanted to go on Wednesday, it would be feasible, but then again, it would be Wednesday.

One of 2011’s resolutions will definitely be to get better at planning things more than a week in advance. Happy New Year.

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Best Bets: Best Christmas Gifts under $10

Maybe your workplace is doing a secret Santa this year. Maybe you got an invite to a holiday party and want to bring a gift for your hosts (which is proper and good form). Maybe you need something for the mailman or your kid’s teacher or someone else you don’t really care about at all. Maybe you’re just cheap.

Whatever the case may be, we all sometimes need to find gifts that cost as little as possible. Just because you’re not spending much though doesn’t mean you’ve got to give up on good taste. They say it’s the thought that counts, and if you put a little thought into your smallest gifts, you can make them count, too.

Magazine Subscriptions

You’ve probably heard by now that print media is dying, and that iPads and Kindles are the wave of the future. All that aside, light reading is as enjoyable as it ever was. Magazine subscriptions are ridiculously cheap right now, with most running just over the cover price of one issue, and in most cases you can get two full years for around $10. The Chop recommends Esquire, Baltimore Magazine, Interview, W Magazine, The Atlantic, and Juxtapoz. It’s a breeze to order gift subscriptions online, although shipping of the first issue typically does take some time.

Alarm Clock

Ikea is well known for three things: good design, low prices, and shoddy materials. Their DEKAD alarm clock is two of those three things. Made of nothing but glass and steel, it’s as solid as it is stylish. Clean, classic design and a $6 price tag put it right at home in any room. Alternately, their lower level has a ton of housewares, textiles and decor items at budget friendly prices.

Handkerchiefs

A tie may be the default last-minute generic gift idea for men, but a set of handkerchiefs is a fraction of the price, and he’ll probably get more mileage out of them than any tie. This set of Dockers handkerchiefs from Kohls is on sale for $10, and presents well in that cylidrical package which might double to hold pens, change, or whatever.

Christmas Ornaments

A Christmas ornament is another pretty standard go-to gift, but the ones available at Ten Thousand Villages in Fell’s Point are anything but ordinary. This set of three is handmade in China and marked down to the ridiculously low price of $5.00. There are also options from India and Nepal as well as other handmade gifts from all over the world.

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Whether you’re stuffing a stocking, sticking to a budget or treating yourself, any of these gifts will be money well spent. Have you received something inexpensive that made you smile? Come up with the perfect solution for secret Santa, maybe? Post your own economical gift ideas in the comments.

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The Perfect Fathers’ Day Gifts at the Quinntessential Gentleman

In the heated, noisy, and sometimes treacherous downtown streets, the Quinntessential Gentleman is nothing less than an oasis. The shock of comfort and relief a man feels when crossing their threshold is much the same as what the desert wayfarer feels encountering the shady stream or the drifting sailor feels upon washing up on the shore. We know this firsthand; the QG will not just give you a haircut, but provide you aid and comfort as much as you like, and send you off ultimately feeling like a new man whose been given a fresh start.

We told you earlier this week about Rodney Henry, who built his pie shop from the ground up, virtually creating his own market through a constant attention to quality and tradition. Craig Martin has a similar story, and the QG’s unrivaled skill, attention to detail, and posh environment have made them an invaluable asset to the state of Maryland.

Bosca Tribeca leather messenger briefcase. $300.

Comparing the QG to your average barbershop is something on the order of trying to compare a limousine to a bicycle. One look around will assure you that this is no ordinary barbershop. Not only does their wide range of services outshine other shops, but their lounge is head and shoulders above most downtown bars and restaurants. They’ll hold a bottle of your favorite spirit for you, or float you a cold beer or a hot cup of coffee or espresso to enjoy while you’re shooting pool, brushing up on your putting, or taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

What keeps you coming back though is the service. It’s well nigh impossible to go up South Calvert without double checking the back of your neck or the shine on your shoes. Even if you’re hair is in good shape, it’s hard to beat a chair massage and a glass of whisky on the rocks for a little me time. When those geniuses came up with that ‘Find Your Happy Place’ nonsense, they were probably sitting around inside the QG.

QG Humidor Starter Kit. $60.

No matter what sort of dad you’ve got, the Quinntessential Gentleman has something great for Fathers’ Day. We’d highly recommend sending your old man there with a gift card in hand, and if you’ve been asleep at the switch this week you can even browse the menu and print gift certificates out online, which is incredibly convenient.

Even if dad’s not close to downtown, you’re still in luck, as QG offers an ever-increasing selection of accessories and accouterments from high end shaving and styling products to that most traditional of Fathers’ Day gifts, the necktie.

Stewart Stand Money Clip. $30.

While we’ve got to admit that many of their offerings are a little too novelty-esque for our own personal taste (think sports logo cufflinks and ties printed with little repeating jolly rogers), we did find plenty to like in the way of Fathers’ Day gifts. If the Chop had rugrats running around, we’d be thrilled to receive the Stewart Stand Bi-fold Money Clip which is on offer at half of its original $60 price and is perfect for any time you won’t need a full wallet.

We were also quite taken with the Parker Heavyweight Safety Razor. Safety razors have seen quite a resurgence in the last couple of years, and those who use them seem to swear by them. At $45, this thing will likely last forever and pay for itself once you quit buying grocery store cartridges at almost $2 a pop.

Parker Heavyweight Safety Razor. $45.

Some of the best looking cuff links in the store are also the most reasonably priced. The Celtic Cross design is a hell of a lot classier than that ‘kiss me I’m Irish’ button the old man likes to break out on St. Paddy’s day. Matching tuxedo studs are also available if you’re sitting down to dinner.

The Chop does not approve of smoking, but if dear old dad is given to enjoy cigars from time to time, the Humidor Starter Kit will look great in any study. It’s a QG original, and the kit can hold up to 50 smokes and includes an incredible amount of value for only $60. They also carry several high-end cigars in the shop.

QG's Celtic Cross Cufflinks. $45.

Finally, the Bosca Tribeca Leather Messenger Briefcase is something of a lavish gift at $300, but good things cost a good sum. The truth is that this is of such quality that you’ll likely inherit it someday, and it’s stylish and beautiful enough that you’ll actually want to.

Additionally, online orders (save gift cards) are now 10% off until Monday, 6/21 when you use the code “dadgift” at checkout, or you can save that 10% in the store by mentioning that you’re a fan of QG on Facebook.

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The Quinntessential Gentleman is located at 31 S. Calvert Street downtown. 410-685-SHAVE. They accept walk-ins and appointments 7 days a week.

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