Table Talk: Howard County keeps it local for summer restaurant promotion

Farm-2-Table focuses on the county's bounty

  • Nora Crist gathers summer squash and cucumbers for Summer Solstice Farm. July 25 kicks off the second annual Farm2Table summer restaurant week.
Nora Crist gathers summer squash and cucumbers for Summer Solstice… (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore…)
July 26, 2011|By Richard Gorelick, The Baltimore Sun

Howard County's summer dining promotion is under way. Farm-2-Table Summer Restaurant Weeks started Monday and continues through Aug. 8. While its winter restaurant weeks have an international theme, the summer promotion focuses on the county's bounty.

Participating restaurants are offering fixed-price menus featuring local produce, products, cut flowers, seafood, herbs, meats, eggs and game, often paired with Maryland wine or local beers. As with the winter promotion, the summer restaurant weeks are an all-inclusive affair, with restaurants allowed to set prices from $10.11 to $40.11.

This is the fourth year for Farm-2-Table, which encourages working partnerships between the county's chefs and farmers.

Participating restaurants include Aida Bistro & Wine Bar, Alexandra's Restaurant at Turf Valley, Bistro Blanc Restaurant & Wine Lounge, Cafe de Paris, Coho Grill, Kelsey's Restaurant, Flavors of India, Greystone Grill, the Kings Contrivance Restaurant, Iron Bridge Wine Company, the Melting Pot, Mango Grove, Ranazul, Portalli's, Second Chance Saloon, Stella Notte, Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant, Town Grill, Union Jack's British Pub, Venegas Prime Filet, Victoria Gastro Pub and the Woodstock Inn.

Not every menu needs to be a literal interpretation of the Farm-2-Table theme, but it's disappointing to see so many menus featuring salmon, and even mahi-mahi, which have nothing to do with Maryland aquaculture. Rockfish does show up here and there. For that matter, there isn't much attention being paid to the area's livestock, at least not on the posted restaurant week menus, which seldom mention the sourcing of their kitchen's poultry, beef and pork.

There are exceptions, like Aida Bistro and Victoria Gastro Pub, that seem fully engaged by the keep-local theme. The most appealing restaurant week menus, though, have been produced by an unlikely venue. At least I was surprised. Alexandra's, the restaurant at Turf Valley is offering a compact and focused menu of Maryland, things like pan-seared rockfish, Maryland tomato gazpacho, Chesapeake soft shell crab sandwiches, and Gunpowder Bison flatiron steaks. The lunch menu at Alexandra's is $15.11 and the dinner menu is $30.11.

For a complete list of participating restaurants, go to

Rub on wheels Michael Marx has sold Rub, his restaurant in Riverside. The new owners will not be keeping the barbecue concept, which is fine with Marx. He's taking the smoker with him.

The smoker is a Southern Pride wood-burning oven. "It holds 700 pounds of meat," Marx says. "I can serve 1,000 people with it."

Rub is hitting the road. Marx says Rub will now operate out of a trailer, which will take up temporary residence on the lot at Miguel's Cocina y Cantina, his Mexican restaurant in Locust Point. He will work the next few months on stabilizing the smoker and should be fully mobile by mid-September.

Selling Rub was different for Marx than selling Blue Agave, the still-running Federal Hill restaurant that he founded and that still bears his stamp.

"With Blue Agave, I wasn't looking, it came to me. With Rub, I won't say I wasn't looking." He was approached last year, but Marx never came to terms with the suitors. "They came back and they were more serious," Marx says, and this time he agreed to sell.

"I'm just ready to get away from bricks and mortar," he says. In addition to the mobile Rub operation, which he will use exclusively for catering, Marx is planning to launch a food truck. "I've been thinking about it for a year or so. And now I can do it."

Look for Marx's food truck to join Baltimore's fleet early next spring.

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