Tag Archives: Canton

M is for Mama’s on the Half Shell

Mama’s on the Half Shell! Oyster power!

I never hear the name of this watering hole without hearing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to visit this Canton Square stalwart. The happy hour is quite good — specials on oysters and drinks, including Clipper City drafts for $2.50. The specials are only good at the actual bar, though, which is a shame when the weather is so nice. Mira and I stole a seat on the sidewalk on MotHS’s cute patio beneath flower pots rocking gently in the late summer breeze. It was worth the extra money for my $3.10 Clipper City and Mira’s extra-strong mojitos. We shared a plate of oysters (mostly delicious except for the dry Chincoteagues, which was weird since they were more local than the PEIs or Long Island mollusks) and crab dip. The dip was heroic in size but gluey in texture — if I had it to do over again, I’d just order more oysters. Of course, “order more oysters” is my solution to a lot of problems.

When the mollusks were slurped and the pints were drained, Mira and I trekked to Safeway to buy flowers and then walked to Polly’s house. We were two unwise women, bearing the gifts of a mixed bouquet and tipsy good wishes, going to visit the blessed child. Polly’s son, whose coming was foretold at the first Alphabetical Happy Hour back in January, was born in early August. He is quite small and deeply uninterested in his parents’ friends, but he has amazingly soft little feet. Most importantly, his parentsĀ  are lit up like candles to have him in their home. He is a lucky young man, and I am a lucky (less) young woman to have such nice friends to drink with and vist with. M is the halfway point of the AHH, which is not too bad, all things considered. I should probably be up to R by now, especially considering that Polly MADE A WHOLE PERSON since I started this blog, but all things considered, it’s not a bad pace.
So where should the AHH go next?

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C is NOT for Carlyle Club, Charlotte’s, Coburn’s

According to Dining@Large, the Carlyle Club on University Parkway and its sister restaurant Spices in The Colonnade have been shuttered. (Both are supposed to reopen — Spices under a different name — but in the Economic End Times, I’ll believe it when I see it.) I’m sad because both these places figured prominently in my birthday 2007. My dad’s birthday is just a few days away from mine, so we usually do a big family dinner out. At Spices, my mom had a very strong drink, I had two very strong drinks and my dad had very strong three drinks. My dad was pleasantly and hilariously buzzed throughout the meal at Carlyle Club while my mom acted like a put-upon sitcom wife the whole time. They were pissed and pissy, respectively. It was like having dinner with Karen Walker and Deborah Barone.

According to Midnight Sun, Charlotte’s in Federal Hill is a) defunct and b) changing hands. Way behind on that one — how can all these wine bars in Fed Hill go haywire? The Vine, Junior’s, Charlotte’s? Yuppies love them some wine on weeknights! It allows them to believe they are more removed from college than they actually are. And some of the deals were phenomenal.

According to my friend Polly who lives in Canton, Coburn’s on the Square has closed. The greatest thing that ever happened to me there is that once I was seating in the picture window in the front and a bar fight (well, bar-adjacent fight) occurred on the sidewalk immediately in front of me. It was sort of like this. And then on the way out, a guy I knew walked into a parking sign. So I will miss Coburn’s not for its beer or its horrible crowding, but for the slapsticky sidewalk hijinks.

B is for Bartenders

Today was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm in a way that February in Baltimore has no right to be. I’m used to this lion-and-lamb stuff in March, but in early February it’s premature and inappropriate. For example, it briefly seemed counterintuitive to huddle in a dark wood bar and drink dark beers at Bartenders.

I considered rearranging my plans in favor of something sunnier, but that was an exercise in futility. B was a star-crossed letter. The highly flexible rules of the AHH are that the bar must fit into alphabetical order (duh) and ideally be a place I have not been before. These criteria eliminate crowd favorites such as Brewer’s Art, Bertha’s, Birds of a Feather and the Brass Elephant because I’ve been there many a time.

On the flip side, there’s an unlikely preponderance of crappy bars beginning with b in Baltimore — Bay Cafe, Blarney Stone, Bert’s, Bar, Bad Decisions, and Babalu Grill — that I was perfectly fine with never having visited. So with the help of the fine people at the chow.com boards, I zeroed in on Bartenders in Canton. It was a perfect fit. Dark and quiet on a Monday night and staffed with knowing bartenders, it was the perfect place to fill up on beer and pizza with two friends and gossip incessantly about the other two who did not show up. For the rare lulls in conversation, there was Big East basketball on the TV. Perfect.

Bartenders features $6 pizzas on Monday night, a steal any day of the week, especially if you’re pinching pennies during the Economic End Times. My cohorts and I chowed down on a Garden Pie (regularly $11) and were satisfied. If we’d been feeling greedy, another one might have been in order, but we chose to guzzle our calories rather than gobble them. To this end, we quizzed the bartender about the impressive and ever-rotating selection of microbrews on tap and settled on Unibroue Maudite. This Canadian concoction tasted faintly of cloves and Christmas without any cloying richness. As the sun slipped down over the water and a chill slid into the evening air, it was the perfect choice for a winter evening.

Lest Bartenders appear too fancy-pants for your liking, fear not. When I queried the bartender about the management’s process of selecting the impressive range of beers on tap, he responded: “Whatever the fuckin’ drunks keep drinking, we keep ordering.”

So noted, good sir. See you next Monday, or possibly Tuesday, when Bartenders has a taco special. Or on Sunday for the shrimp special. But sometime soon, I’m sure.