Bliss in Harford


a deal in Howard

July 16, 2008|By ELIZABETH LARGE

In spite of the name, Harford County's Bliss Coffee and Wine Bar (1402 Handlir Drive, Riverside, 410-272-0505, is a full-fledged restaurant that seats 40 in the dining room, 15 in the bar and even more on the soon-to-be-opened patio. The chef is Lance Lader, who has worked various places in the area, but is currently cooking in the style of his time at Sotto Sopra. Dinner entrees run from $14.95 for a grilled vegetable pasta to $24.95 for a fillet wrapped in bacon with a black-cherry reduction.

Owners Sarah Ortiz-Brown and Claudio Brown moved to Harford County from California when he retired from the military. They learned to love wine on the West Coast and have tried, says Ortiz-Brown, to create a wine list for their wine bar that's "esoteric" and international. They also offer a good variety of specialty coffee drinks (and a 6 a.m. opening time on weekdays).

The space is "modern, upscale and chic," Ortiz-Brown says. Live entertainment is offered several times a month.

Bliss is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; until midnight Friday; 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

A NEW VIN? Christopher Paternotte and Vin in Towson have parted ways. Paternotte, the creative force behind the restaurant, believes that "fine dining in Towson is an uphill battle." And he's facing the closing of Vin on Aug. 3 for an indeterminate time during the coming Towson Circle construction.

Reed Cordish, vice president of the Cordish Co., which financed the restaurant, says Vin will be closed through the end of this year but may reopen before the circle construction is completed.

At the moment, Paternotte's sous-chef, Justin McGaunn, is heading the kitchen.

Cordish says that when Vin does reopen, he hopes Paternotte returns as a consultant. If so, he "doesn't see any reason to alter the concept" to make Vin a more casual eating place.

GOOD DEALS For its first try at the promotion, Howard County isn't just having a summer restaurant week, it's having restaurant weeks. From Monday to Aug. 3, participating restaurants will offer a three-course, fixed-price menu for $20.08 at lunch and $30.08 at dinner. Some of the county's best-known restaurants are participating, including Aida Bistro, Iron Bridge Wine Company, Kings Contrivance, oZ. Chophouse and Tersiguel's. The complete list can be found at

Baltimore's summer restaurant week starts July 26, with more than 90 restaurants taking part. Go to for more details.

When you think about it, it's a good deal. After all, the price is tied to the date, so it only goes up one cent a year.

GOOD EATS Sampson's, a popular Baltimore soul-food restaurant, has moved from Fayette Street to a new location at 353 N. Calvert St. This is where you get your Southern specialties like lake trout, fried chicken, pigs feet, collards and candied sweets, as well as subs and sandwiches. Sampson's is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

A DOG AND HIS PIZZA Iggies in Mount Vernon is open again after being closed for vacation, with a new pizza and a new Italian greyhound. The pizza is Pizza Bocce (sausage, tomato ragu, broccolini, mozzarella and garlic oil). The dog is also named Bocce, a 12-pound male adopted July 2. More good news: Iggies has started serving Pitango Gelato, an organic brand made here in Baltimore.

ORGANIC FAIR FARE Organic cotton candy? I don't think so. But this weekend's Artscape will feature for the first time an Organic Food Court. The catch is that not everything served in it is organic, so it's a bit of a misnomer. Think of it instead as "green," with healthful offerings, some organic, no fried food, and biodegradable containers. The OFC will feature such goodies as salads from Swiff Salads, vegetarian meals from Yabba Pot, drinks from Zia's, wraps from Station North Arts Cafe and pies from Dangerously Delicious Pies.

This year, by the way, there won't be one major food court, but many smaller ones. The OFC will be in the parking lot across from the Charles Theatre.


Check out restaurant critic Elizabeth Large's daily blog ( for restaurant news and notes and reader feedback. Don't miss Top 10 Tuesdays.

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