Tag Archives: Restaurants

House Rules: Baltimore Bar Trivia Nights Part 3

When we decided to write about the Baltimore area’s bar trivia nights in part one and part two of this series, we had no idea just how many trivia nights there were to choose from locally.

The Chop is nothing if not your humble public servant, and in furtherance of that service we are proud to present you with a comprehensive (as far as we know,as of Memorial Day 2010) list of games so that you may choose either by night of the week, or by the bar or restaurant that is closest to your home.

When we said bar trivia was taking over, we meant it. Now you can see why.

Monday

Belisimo’s- 2900 Baltimore Blvd, Finksburg. 8:00 pm.
Catches- 9727 Pulaski Hwy, White Marsh. 7:00 pm.
Charles Village Pub- 19 W. Pennslyvania Ave, Towson. 8:00 pm.
Charred Rib- 12 W. Ridgely Rd, Timonium. 7:00 pm.
Dark Horse Saloon- 117 S. Main St, Bel Air. 8:00 pm.
DJ’s Sports Bar and Grill- 8894 Fort Smallwood Rd, Pasadena. 6:30 pm.
Field House- 2400 Boston St, Canton. 7:00 pm.
Greene Turtle- 718-722 South Broadway, Fell’s Point. 8:00 pm.
Greene Turtle- 19961 Century Blvd, Germantown. 7:00 pm.
Growlers- 227 E Diamond Ave, Gaithersburg. 7:00 pm.
James Joyce- 616 President St, Baltimore. 7:00 pm.
Manhattan Grill- 5009 Honeygo Center Dr, Perry Hall. 7:00 pm.
Padonia Station- 63 E. Padonia Rd, Timonium. 8:00 pm.
Phoenix Emporium- 8049 Main St, Ellicott City. 7:30 pm.
Pub Dog- 8865 Stanford Blvd, #101 Columbia. 7:45 pm.
Side Pockets- 904 Fairlawn Ave, Laurel. 7:00 pm.
Sunset Beach Club- 11445 Pulaski Hwy, White Marsh. 8:00 pm.

Tuesday

Bill Bateman’s- 8100 Waltham Woods Rd, Parkville. 8:30 pm.
Bill Bateman’s- 566 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park. 8:00 pm.
Della Rose’s- 1501 S Clinton St, Canton. 8:00 pm.
Diamondback Tavern- 3733 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City. 7:30 pm.
Frank and Nic’s- 511 W. Pratt St, Baltimore. 8:00 pm.
Frazier’s- 919 W. 36th St, Hampden. 8:30 pm.
Glory Days Grill- 7939 Ritchie Hwy, Glen Burnie. 8:30.
Glory Days Grill- 1220 E. Joppa Rd, Towson. 8:00 pm.
Greene Turtle- 1604 Ridgeside Ct, Mt. Airy. 7:30 pm.
Greene Turtle- 408 York Rd, Towson. 7:30 pm.
Hazelwood Inn- 4937 Hazelwood Ave, Overlea. 7:30 pm.
Hellas- 8498 Veterans Hwy, Millersville. 7:00 pm.
Hightopp’s Backstage Grill- 2306 York Road, Timonium. 8:00 pm.
Jilly’s- 1012 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville. 7:30 pm.
Jimmy’s- 6526 Holabird Ave, Dundalk. 8:00 pm.
Looney’s- 312 S. Main St, Bel Air. 7:00 pm.
Looney’s- 8180 Maple Lawn Blvd, Maple Lawn 7:00 pm.
MaGerk’s- 120 S. Bond Street, Bel Air. 8:00 pm.
Skipjack’s- 7703 Bel Air Rd, Overlea. 8:00 pm.
Wharf Rat- 801 S Ann St, Fell’s Point. 8:30 pm.

Wednesday

Alexander’s Tavern- 710 S. Broadway, Fell’s Point. 8:30 pm.
Austin Grill- 2400 Boston St, Canton. 8:00 pm.
Bare Bones Grill- 9150 Baltimore Natl. Pike, Ellicott City. 8:00 pm.
The Barn- 9527 Harford Rd, Carney. 7:00 pm.
Bill Bateman’s- 805 Aquahart Rd, Glen Burnie. 7:30 pm.
Buffalo Wings and Beer- 1438 Liberty Rd, Sykesville. 7:30 pm.
Camden Pub- 647 West Pratt St, Baltimore. 7:00 pm.
Coconut Charlie’s- 9129 Fort Smallwood Rd, Pasadena. 8:00 pm.
Greene Turtle- 14150 Baltimore Ave, Laurel. 8:00 pm.
Hull Street Blues- 1222 Hull St, Locust Point. 8:00 pm.
Jilly’s- 10030 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City. 7 pm.
Luckie’s Tavern- 10 Market Place, Baltimore. 8:00 pm.
Mad River Bar and Grill- 1110 South Charles St, Federal Hill. 8:00 pm.
No Idea- 1649 S. Hanover St, Federal Hill. 9:00 pm.
The Parkside- 4709 Harford Rd, Lauraville. 9:30 pm.
Piv’s Pub- 9811 York Rd, Cockeysville. 8:30 pm.
Portside Tavern- 2821 O’donnell St, Canton. 8:00 pm.
Sullivan’s- 9624 Fort Meade Rd, Laurel. 7:00 pm.
Taps- 1439 S. Charles St, Federal Hill. 8:00 pm.
Time Out Sports Bar- Cranberry Mall, Westminster. 8:30 pm.
Waterfront Hotel- 1710 Thames St, Fell’s Point. 8:00 pm.
West End Grill- 2049 West St, Annapolis. 8:00 pm.

Thursday

Baltimore Taphouse- 600 S. Potomac St, Canton. 8:00 pm.
Bill Bateman’s- 102 Chartley Dr, Reisterstown. 8:30 pm.
Bill Bateman’s- 7800 York Rd, Towson. 8:30 pm.
DuClaw- 16 Bel Air South Pkwy, Bel Air 8:00 pm.
Ellie’s Place– 8421 Veterans’ Hwy, Millersville. 7:45 pm.
Glory Days Grill- 7939 Ritchie Hwy, Glen Burnie. 8:00 pm.
Griffin’s Grill- 969 Ritchie Hwy, Arnold. 8:00 pm.
Jasper’s- 1651 MD Route 3 North, Crofton. 8:00 pm.
Jilly’s- 10030 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City. 7:00 pm.
Loafer’s Bar and Grill- 6518 Baltimore Nat’l Pike, Catonsville. 7:00 pm.
Manhattan Grill- 5009 Honeygo Center Dr, Perry Hall. 7:00 pm.
Max’s Taphouse- 737 S. Broadway, Fell’s Point. 9:00 pm.
Mother’s- 1113 S. Charles St, Federal Hill. 7:00 pm.
Ropewalk- 1209 S. Charles St, Federal Hill. 8:00 pm.
Tavern 101 (Fairfield Inn)- 101 President St, Baltimore. 8:00 pm.

Friday

Applebee’s- 2450 Broad Ave, Timonium. 9:00 pm.
JJ Muldoon’s- 16143 Shady Grove Rd, Gaithersburg. 7:30 pm.
Old Havela Inn- (???) Main St, Taneytown. 6:30 pm.
Pike’s Diner- 921 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville. 8:00 pm.

Saturday

Jilly’s- 10030 Baltimore Nat’l Pike, Ellicott City. 8:00 pm.
Jilly’s- 1012 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville. 9:00 pm.
Three 9’s- 7705 Washington Blvd, Jessup. 8:15 pm.

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Chop on the Spot: George’s of Mount Vernon

You might be surprised to hear it, but the Chop fully approves of hotel bars.

Most often we find ourselves in one when we’re overseas. Many times hotel bars are the cream of the crop, and some countries’ bars are found to be so wanting that the hotel bar with the western visitors is the only place you can count on getting a decent drink poured and not have to put up with a lot of the unsavory things that are prone to happen overseas.

The clientele in a hotel bar is, obviously, mostly out-of-towners. They seem to be of a few certain types, which are easy to identify at the hotel, but are fairly rare away from it. There’s business travelers, who are pretty straight-laced, and then there are people who travel a lot for work, who aren’t what you’d call “businesspeople” and pretty much drink from the time the trade show closes until it opens again. There’s cougars and hospitality employees and tourists and even the Chop.

Geroge's is located inside the Peabody Court Hotel at the west end of Mount Vernon Square.

Sometimes the Chop needs a break. Sometimes we just get tired of Brewer’s Art and Dionysus. Sometimes we want to drink in a place that’s actually not a basement, and be served by someone in a tie and not a Dead Boys T-shirt. It’s times like this when we hie down to one of Midtown’s best kept secrets, George’s of Mount Vernon.

We’ve been to George’s a few times for dinner, and are never disappointed. The ambiance is hard to beat, the food is delicious and without pretense, and the service is much more personal and friendly than you’d expect in such a place. It also doesn’t hurt that the prices are set so that one can easily pick up the check on date night.

We didn’t get the full benefit of George’s though until we went there for happy hour. The bar in there feels more like home than any bar in the city. But not like your fixer-upper Hampden rowhouse… like a really, really nice home.

The 12′ ceilings, crown molding, 10 foot windows, chandeliers, and posh leather furniture all give the impression that you’re in the sort of place that Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein drank when they lived in Baltimore, and hell, maybe they did. There’s something nice about stepping back into the jazz age for an hour, and a stiff old-fashioned in this place will set you right. It’s just the thing to brace you up for the travails of modern life.

Best of all? George’s happy hour is Sunday- Friday, and all beer, glass wines and rail drinks are 2-for-1.

__________________________________________________________

George’s is in the Peabody Court Hotel, 101 W. Monument Street in Mount Vernon. (410) 727-1314.

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House Rules: Baltimore Bar Trivia Nights Part 2

On Tuesday, the Baltimore Chop took a look at the burgeoning pub quiz industry in Maryland. Being fun and free for bar patrons, and profitable for tavern owners and trivia producers alike, the popularity of bar trivia shows no signs of abating any time soon.

The Chop had only played live trivia once before now, so we hit the streets early in the week to see how a few of Central Maryland’s more than 85 (!) trivia nights stack up next to each other pound for pound. There are currently five companies actively producing live trivia events locally, and we made an effort to check out 3 games on Monday and Tuesday evening.

Photo Question: Name the actor who played know-it-all barfly Cliff Clavin on Cheers?

Brainstormer

Our first stop this week was the James Joyce Pub on Monday for Brainstormer trivia. Brainstormer is a large, slick franchising operation based out of the San Francisco Bay area. With several dozen game locations nationwide, it seems the James Joyce is the only place to play in MD. We didn’t get too many details though, since the MC still hadn’t shown up at 7:30 for the 7 pm game. When we asked the bartender about it, she pretty much said ‘Yeah, he just shows up whenever he feels like it; 8 or 8:30.’ Far from an isolated incident, the Washington Post also reported a tardy Brainstormer host a few years ago at a DC Irish pub. With no bar specials to entice us to stay, we thought it best to move on.

Charm City Trivia

It was only a short walk to the next game, when we checked out Charm City Trivia at the Green Turtle’s Fell’s Point location. CCT is active in 4 states with 18 games in MD, and hosts 10 games in the City, including the Wednesday night game at Mad River, which is reputed to be Baltimore’s most competitive trivia night. The game at the Green Turtle was much more relaxed though. In fact, it seemed most of the players had just signed up for the hell of it, because they were there already. The pair of Fell’s townies who’d been drinking since noon certainly fell into that category, and they quickly recruited the Chop to their team. Questions were easy enough, and at the end of 3 rounds (when we all pretty much lost interest) we were good for 4th place, not quite good enough to win the buckets of bar swag and a fistful of bar dollars. The drink special was a none-too-special $2 Miller Lite bottle, but the odds of winning shots at the end of each round were pretty good. Since the PA also connects to the speakers out front, you can sit outside while you play too. We’d recommend it for cheap Monday entertainment.

Showtime Trivia

The next night we were right back at it for Showtime Trivia at Frazier’s on the Avenue. Showtime is currently running 23 area games, five of which are in the city. We found the Frazier’s game to be a nice intermediate/ middle of the road game. It took up most of the larger bar, and was a good mix of regular teams trying to get into the $1000 playoff tournament of all area Showtime teams, and casual players looking to win a $30 bar tab. But with $5 pizzas and $2 domestics as a Tuesday night special, aren’t we all winners at the end of the night?

One thing that was noticeable of the crowd at Frazier’s that seems to be true of trivia players across the board is their decidedly un-hipsterish nature. There’s not a lot of crowd crossover at these things with DJ nights or obscure indie film screenings.

Quiz-a-ma-jig

Quiz-a-ma-jig is the little engine that could of Baltimore Trivia. With only two games in Fell’s Point (Max’s and Alexander’s) it seems to do more with less. We played the Thursday night game at Max’s last winter, and our experience was somewhat similar to that of two Citypaper staffers in 2005. Although the night we went was crowded, like standing room only for more than 2 hours crowded, and very, very loud and shout-y. Factor in a pretty competitive crew of regulars and no effing drink specials and we aren’t in a rush to go back any time soon.

Trivia Maryland

Trivia Maryland runs 13 games in the Baltimore suburbs, but unfortunately none inside the City itself. The closest they get are two games in Towson. If you’re downtown and want to see what they’re about though, you can play all of the “Trivia Maryland World Series” games on their website.

Final Score Trivia

Final Score operates in 3 states, and is the largest player in the local trivia market. With 25 separate events in the area they reach all points of the compass, but have only 3 games in the City. We’ve never been to the Camden Pub, Hazelwood Inn, or Field House for a game, but the Baltimore Sun recently profiled the company’s owner, who turned a pub quiz hobby into a full time job. From what we can tell, most people who host, score-keep, or are otherwise involved in trivia production started out as avid players at their own local bars.

In-House Games

A few local bars even go their own way for trivia nights, some doing it quite successfully. Federal Hill’s No Idea runs its own game, as does Fell’s Point’s Waterfront Hotel with their popular ‘WTF Do You Know?’ trivia nights. Around the corner from them the Wharf Rat has a few ‘best trivia night’ awards under its belt, although local blogger Zombie Girl prefers the atmosphere at Baltimore Taphouse, speaking highly of their regulars and staff.

The original purpose of these posts was to let you know what your options are for pub quizzes and bar trivia in Baltimore, and maybe even pick out a few of the best. At this point, we’ve come to realize that there are so many from which to choose, that we still haven’t fit them all into these two posts, and as far as choosing a favorite, you’re on your own, Choppers.

Next week, we’ll attempt to come up with something more comprehensive to help you sort out all the dates and locations where trivia is happening regularly. It might be a regular post sorted by night of the week. It might be a geographical chart, and it might even be a fancy Google map. We’re also interested to hear your experiences with trivia nights in the comments, and if you’ve played as a regular in multiple trivia games/tournaments or have been a trivia MC in the Baltimore area we’d like to know your thoughts via email to thebaltimorechop@gmail.com.

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House Rules: Baltimore Bar Trivia Nights

Here’s a question for you: When did trivia nights completely take over Maryland’s bars and restaurants?

When it comes to weeknight recreation, it seems to us that our fathers’ generation used to take part in all manner of pub-related activities; everything from league bowling to tournament pool to darts, softball or shuffleboard. When you look around Baltimore’s bar scene today though, one pastime sticks out like a giant green afro: Trivia.

Much like Lost, the lounge was a mental creation of Wayne the Main Brain the whole time.

It’s beginning to feel as though trivia is becoming to Baltimore what poker is to Las Vegas. The intrepid intellect could almost quit his day job and become a professional on the trivia circuit seven nights a week (although it can be tough to pay the rent with restaurant gift certificates and the promotional swag from liquor distributors which passes for jackpots in some contests).

Much more than a passing fad (when was the last time you sang karaoke, anyway?) local pub quizzes have become a burgeoning and fairly competitive industry here in Charm City, with several outfits employing full time staffers, as well as several part time trivia MC’s. It’s not hard to see why. Not only is bar trivia a pleasant diversion, it’s also a highly sustainable business model. Bar owners get to fill what might be otherwise empty bar stools on slower weeknights, trivia game producers can trade not only on their own brand, but on the reputation of the host location, and players get to participate in a free, fun social activity with a chance at winning a (ahem) wide range of prizes.

Locally there’s something for everyone, trivia-wise. From the Hopkins PhD candidate to the local Cliff Clavin to the garden variety barfly; from the once-a-year dinner party that stumbles in by accident to the twice-a-week tournament players competing for prizes in the thousands, there are local games to suit all levels of skill and interest. In Chicago they’ve even identified and profiled the 7 People You Don’t Want to See at Your Trivia Night, all of whom can also be found in taverns from Hunt Valley to Annapolis and beyond.

Coming up on Thursday, we’re going to attempt to offer a closer look at the five main promoters producing trivia nights in Central Maryland, as well as your best bets for pub quizzes in Baltimore City.

Stay Tuned.

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The Best Bars to Visit After an Orioles Game at Camden Yards

No trip to Oriole Park is complete without a pre-game beer for happy hour, and between the Inner Harbor, Pickles and Sliders’, Pratt Street Ale House and the Chop’s favorite, California Tortilla there’s no shortage of options near the park.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for post game cocktails. It’s a problem of urban planning that there are no decent late-night bars in the immediate vicinity for baseball fans to patronize. We really liked going to Lucy’s on Eutaw last season, but with their demise, most people we know beat a retreat back to their own neighborhood (or suburb, as the case may be) for their post game drinks.

Drinking close to home is always a good idea, but what about those times when you’re meeting friends, entertaining clients, visiting from out-of-town or otherwise want to extend your evening downtown?

It’s for times like these that we’re proud to present our meticulously researched and true-life tested list of:

The Best Bars to Visit After an Orioles Game

# 5… Mt. Royal Tavern

Mt. Royal Tavern. 1204 W. Mount Royal Ave.

This is about as far as you can get from a sports bar. If you’re coming here to drink with other people in orange jerseys, you’re definitely in the wrong place. If you’re looking for super cheap drinks and easy access to the light rail and JFX, then you’ve arrived. This is also one of the best bars in Baltimore for getting completely, utterly shitfaced. Not for the faint of heart.

# 4… Dougherty’s Pub

Dougherty's Pub. 223 W. Chase Street.

Also near light rail but a bit more hospitable is Dougherty’s. Never too busy, they’ve got plenty of tables, decent bar food, and a good selection of reasonably priced pitchers. They’re also easy walking distance to the rest of Mount Vernon. It definitely beats the cloistered, cacophonous atmosphere of certain upper Mount Vernon watering holes, even if the beer is not hand-made.

# 3… Max’s

Max's. 737 S. Broadway

Also referred to as Max’s Taphouse or Max’s on Broadway, The bar on the square in Fell’s Point is beloved by locals and visitors alike. With 1000+ bottled beers and over 100 taps, there’s a lot to like here. Easily accessible after the game by cab, water taxi, or circulator, you can camp here for the night or use it as a home base for exploring the rest of the neighborhood.

# 2… Mick O’Shea’s

Mick O'Shea's. 328 N. Charles Street.

This is likely your best option if you’re staying in a downtown hotel. Mick’s bartender Tricia Murphy recently won the title of Baltimore’s Best Bartender in a very extensive poll by a local paper. O’Shea’s is a little bit of local nestled right next to the touristy harbor, and the place to go if you want to see live Irish music on the weekend or maybe have a post-game drink with some of the opposing players during the week. Beats your hotel bar by a mile.

# 1… Little Havana

Little Havana. 1325 Key Highway.

Our number one choice for a post-game drink is a little out of the way if you don’t live in South Baltimore, but it’s worth the effort to get there. It’s far enough away from the typical South Baltimore bar circuit that it’s mostly free of riff-raff, and as an added bonus you can get free parking nearby at the high school, and walk from there to the park and then to the bar. A mojito or mint julep on their waterfront balcony is the perfect summer nightcap after an evening at the Yard.

Every true Oriole needs a post-game drink.

What are some of your favorite spots to drink after the game? Which ones do you avoid? Honorable mentions here go out to James Joyce, B & O Brasserie, and almost any place in Little Italy.

The Chop is heading back out there for Tuesday bargain night again tonight, and you can bet your baseballs we’ll end up at one of these spots after the game. See you there.

___________________________________________________________

The Orioles play the Kansas City Royals at Camden Yards tonight. 7:05 on MASN 2.

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House Rules: The Chop Approves of Brunch

It’s Mothers’ Day in Charm City, and that could only mean one thing; its time to sit down to brunch.

At this very moment, cooks all over Baltimore are scrambling massive quantities of eggs, bartenders are making sure the Champagne is well-chilled, and servers are already daydreaming about how to spend an apron full of tip money. While Mothers’ Day is very closely associated with brunch nationwide, this scene plays itself out here in town every Sunday, and most Saturdays too. Baltimoreans have fully embraced brunch culture, and if you’re looking for a late-morning repast on the weekends, its almost easier to ask yourself who doesn’t offer brunch around here?

Nothing says decadence like Pernod and eggs Florentine in a fancy hotel on Sunday morning.

The Chop approves of brunch. If you find yourself at a brunch table, you know that you’ve done something right. More than a meal, brunch is a lifestyle choice. Even more than that though, its a lifestyle choice that is almost exclusively the province of the urban middle and upper classes. You won’t find proper brunch offerings at Granny’s Country Kitchen in Podunksburg, WV. Likewise you’ll notice that most of your better options for brunch are more Manhattan than they are Bronx.

Its always been this way. According to some website we found, the English invented brunch near the turn of the century when their aristocratic, fox-hunting, Tory asses came back to the Manor after a ‘hunt’ and had their butlers lay table with a proper meal decidedly different from a traditional English supper. Supposedly the practice was adopted at places like Oxford and Cambridge when the Brits wanted to combine eating with all manner of WASP-y pursuits like tennis matches, crew rowing tournaments, yacht regattas, etc.

Some other website we found suggests that the popularity of brunch is in inverse proportion to the popularity of Churchgoing. This would explain why its so well favored by coastal elite types and not the ‘real’ ‘heartland’ Americans in the flyover states. Still other sources note the link between urbanites who make a habit of drinking heavily late into Saturday nights and look to a long, leisurely meal of fruits, carbs, and protiens (along with a couple of brunch cocktails) as the best remedy for a hangover. The Chop falls firmly into this category.

A little old-fashioned, just a touch elitist, Godless, gossipy, drunk and delicious. Is it any wonder the Chop, and Baltimore, approves of brunch?

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House Rules: Who Should Pay on a First Date

Ahem. This is one of those topics that has been done to death on the internet, radio, TV… just about everywhere. Asking who should pay on the first date is pretty much like saying “Please beat me over the head with your reactionary and ill-considered opinions until I never want to date again.” Any attempt at sincere discussion inevitably devolves into a misguided understanding of Feminism, Chivalry, Economics, Sexual Politics, Chauvinism, etc. etc. etc. While the Chop has heard plenty of opinions, we’ve yet to add our own voice to the fray, until now.

The Chop knows whereof we speak on this one. We’ve been on enough dates of all sorts, including free, that one method of financing them stands out as far and away the best.

While we do sort of subscribe to the old rule of “the one who asked for the date should offer to pay”, we find it absolutely works best when we pay for dinner and she offers to pay for the movie or drinks or whatever comes next. It’s really the only system that’s foolproof against trying to split things between credit cards, trying to be overly judicious about fairness or devolving into score-keeping.

We’ve found that when both parties bring an abundance of generosity to the table, everyone gets the best of both worlds. It works well for all involved.

We’re glad to pay the bar tab, but if she’s buying us drinks we know she’s a keeper.

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Foodie Culture Leaves a Bad Taste on Baltimore Palates

Brace yourselves Baltimore, for the Chop is about to take another potentially unpopular position. Today we’re coming out against food.

Did you know that your own humble Chop has been a vegetarian lo these 15 years? Of course you didn’t. We never mentioned it because we’re acutely aware that no one cares what we’re eating. And by that same token, the Chop doesn’t care what anyone else is eating, which leads to much eye-rolling because in 2010 everyone is anxious to tell you exactly what they’re eating.

We can’t hardly get through the day anymore without getting 20+ recommendations on what to eat. And you know what they say, opinions are like assholes… they leave a bad taste in your mouth. All kidding aside though, food is a lot like music in that it’s something which is consumed by everyone you know every day. Everyone has opinions on it, and everyone thinks their opinion is well-informed and superior, even if it’s not.

People who talk at length about what they’ve eaten or photograph their food for the internet are merely showing off. Showing off is distinctly un-Baltimore.

For better or worse, the internet, cable TV and the general proliferation of information have largely erased what was once thought of as the mainstream. In the new century we’re all renaissance men, and in the same way that people are no longer satisfied with lowest-common-denominator generic rock ‘n roll, Swanson dinners and blue plate specials have also become relics of the last century. Just as iTunes and Last.fm can build you personalized playlists of niche artists, there’s now an endless drone of voices telling you where, what and how you should eat.

Something the foodie movement and food industry have been able to do very successfully is to make people believe the myth that eating well equates to living well. It does not. Most of your great starving artists were just that… starving. Looking back at some of the more revered persons of history (Jesus Christ, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela) they didn’t eat very well at all. Any life worth living has been sustained by food, not centered on it. The TV ideals of sophisticated dinner parties, downtown tasting menus and “authenticity” are merely the by-products of a happy life. You can’t eat your way to happiness.

It’s gotten to the point where the Chop can no longer watch Food Network or the Travel Channel. Can’t thumb through domestic magazines or even read food blogs anymore. It’s a shame, because there are a lot of really great food and restaurant blogs based in Baltimore. It’s just such a crowded niche that it quickly becomes an echo chamber. In someplace like NYC or SF, it may well be different but here there are only so many restaurants, and they’re all known quantities. New ones make or break their names in no time, and they do it the old fashioned way, by word of mouth. After all, a friend’s opinion will always trump a blogger’s.

Something the foodie movement and food industry have been able to do very successfully is to make people believe the myth that eating well equates to living well. It does not.

Just as we’ve turned 30 and reached a sort of ‘musical maturity’ where taste is refined, the old favorites are relied upon heavily, and new artists need to prove themselves substantial to receive much attention, so it is with food. There’s just no pressing need to try every new restaurant, to hit the farmers’ market every weekend, to seek out exotic ingredients or to wow ’em at dinner parties. We just eat what we like.

Speaking of wowing ’em at the dinner parties, that might be the thing that bothers most about foodie culture. People who talk at length about what they’ve eaten or photograph their food for the internet are merely showing off. Showing off is distinctly un-Baltimore. It runs contrary to the entire ethos of this city, where (historically) we all live in rowhouses, go to work together, cheer our teams together, and eat our crabs (or bull-and-oysters, or pancake suppers, or fried chicken, silver queen and tomatoes) together. This rush toward SOLE food is kind of akin to the 6 year old who demands something different from what the family’s eating at dinner.

Which is silly, because the best food we’ve ever had comes literally from our grandmothers’ kitchens. Recipes from Mrs. Kittering and the Junior League are every bit as delicious when you make them now as they were when they were made decades ago.

Anyone who really wants to eat well is encouraged to skip the trendy restaurants, and try the basement of the nearest Methodist Church instead.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: PPM Blue Hill Edition

Whew!

After last night Baltimore, the Chop sure as hell needs a drink! Fortunately, we’re in luck, because there’s not one but two great groups of folks we’re out to drink with tonight.

First we’ll be heading out to Blue Hill Tavern for Planned Parenthood of Maryland’s ongoing series called the Drinks and Discussion Happy Hour. If you’ve never been to a PPM event before, rest assured, the vibe is very laid back and the structure is quite loose and free-form, but at the same time they’re always held in some of Baltimore’s finest establishments, and the style and fashion will have your head spinning. If you want to come out, dress to impress. The event runs from 6 to 8 pm and admission is free, but of course the more you drink the better it is for women’s health.

PPM's Young Professionals Drinks and Discussion Happy Hour is at Blue Hill Tavern tonight. 6pm.

We’d show up anywhere they wanted to hold it, but we have to say that we’re really excited to get down to Blue Hill, which opened shortly before we left for Europe, and which we haven’t had a chance to visit yet, even though the buzz is good.

Its also convenient, since this being the second Wednesday of the month, its also time for the bi-monthly meeting of Baltimore Drinking Liberally, which is just a few blocks up Conkling Street at the Laughing Pint. Drinking liberally is also informal, and as we mentioned before, new members are always encouraged to come out.

Baltimore Drinking Liberallymeets tonight at the Laughing Pint. 7 pm. All are welcome.

Political theater has seldom been more absurd than it is this week. Eric Massa is crazy as fuck. Did he have cancer, or was he checking interns for prostate cancer? Maybe he cancerfied Glen Beck on that show yesterday.

Sarah Palin proves that she really is a dummy by taking notes on her hand on national TV. She also apparently likes Socialism, since she gets her healthcare in Canada.

Roy Ashburn is a big fag. Look dude, we know its hard to come out of the closet and all, but its even harder to come out while you’re losing your state house seat and facing drunk driving charges and having everyone you know suddenly hate you. But you know what? After your career, you deserve to take it up the ass.

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What We’re Not Doing Tonight…

That’s right Baltimore… today it’s all about what we’re not doing tonight. Namely, We’re not going to the Walters’ for Ignite Baltimore #5. Mainly because we were in Europe and couldn’t put ourselves on the RSVP list in time. We got the wait list, but standing around Charles Street in the cold all night while the rest of you try to become the mayor of the the Walters on Foursquare is not our idea of an enchanted evening.

Ignite Baltimore #5 is sold-out at the Walters Art Gallery tonight.

For those of you unfamiliar, Ignite Baltimore is a wildly popular quarterly speaking series in which volunteers are given five minutes and 20 slides to say anything they want about anything they want. Now, the Chop is all for events with an intimate feel, and we love it when organizers remain fiercely independent in the face of success, but we cry foul on Ignite. You see, this isn’t the first time we haven’t been able to get in the door, and the event has reached the point where they’re simply refusing to grow. We say ideas are cultural currency, and supply should equal demand. They need a bigger venue.

We’re also not attending the Citypaper Cosmic Cocktail Party at the AVAM. Frankly, $50 is a lot of money to dress up and get drunk on a weeknight, especially since the event is only 3 hours and not in any way charitable.

'Dirty Boots...'

What we are up to tonight is another date. And this one is what you’d call a hot date. In fact, some of you may even remember Cowboy Boots from way back in October. We’re really pretty excited that she remembers the Chop, and we’re going to propose for our first date that we flee the hip district altogether and head up to Clementine for a nosh and a couple of Stonewall Pints, made of Ace pear cider, bourbon and fresh ginger. A little more laid-back than the first time we met, we hope.

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