The sliders at the newly opened Alexander's Tavern (710-712 S. Broadway) in Fells Point were added to the menu "on a whim," co-owner Charlie Gjerde told me, and they turned out to be one of the most popular items. So popular, in fact, that five varieties weren't enough; a couple more have just been added.
Two or three of these bite-sized burgers, descendants of White Castle hamburgers, have become a trendy appetizer at restaurants across the country. Meatball sliders even made the cover of Bon Appetit magazine this fall.
Chefs at fine-dining restaurants have elevated sliders to an art form, using upscale ingredients like Kobe beef and foie gras. Locally, you can find high-end sliders at Salt in Patterson Park and oZ. Chophouse in Maple Lawn; more everyday versions are on the menus of such chains as Cheesecake Factory.
Sliders started off as mini-hamburgers, but these days size is the only constant. Alexander's has cheeseburger, chili-cheese dog, pulled-pork, grilled-cheese, hot roast-beef and crab-cake sliders, plus a mix-and-match platter of four.
"People like to sit at the bar and share them," said Gjerde.
Changing Mother --It's been 10 years since Mother's Federal Hill Grille opened on South Charles Street, and coincidental with that anniversary the South Baltimore tavern is making major changes. Co-owner Dave Rather says the renovations will add 4,000 square feet, the size of the kitchen will double, the bathrooms are being redone and there will be a new 60-foot bar.
With a new kitchen and a new executive chef, Warren Norris, formerly of Marriott and Fleming's, Mother's will be completely revamping its menu. "We've been pigeonholed as a bar, but we have a separate dining room and upscale comfort food," Rather says. The renovations will include a separate entrance to the dining room, so customers won't have to walk through the bar to get there. The work is scheduled to be completed by February.
Maybe the best news for the neighborhood is that Mother's will offer curbside carryout. Folks will be able to stop in the alley next to the tavern to wait for their food to be brought out.
Cleared for takeoff --Another restaurant is opening that you can't get to unless you buy an airplane ticket. Silver Diner, a local chain, is the latest; it will start serving food Friday in the Southwest terminal at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
If you sit down in the dining room or retro bar, you're guaranteed your food in 10 minutes. There are also three to-go options, depending on how much time you have (two, five or 10 minutes). You can order online before you head for the airport or at the electronic kiosk in the restaurant. And try not to gulp your meal.
Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at email@example.com or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.