CHEF CHRIS SCANGA ON THE NEW MILTON INN, WHAT DRIVES HIM AND MUCH MORE
Over the last few months, I’ve slowly been working on an interview with Chef Chris Scanga, who is both the Executive Chef and a Partner at The Milton Inn, along with Tony Foreman and Chef Cindy Wolf. I am continually impressed with this guy. He’s approachable, quietly confident and funny. And he works very, very hard.
Here it is. Hope you enjoy it. Get to The Milton Inn ASAP.
TWO NEW VEGAN RESTAURANTS NOW OPEN DOWNTOWN
Two vegan restaurants have opened in the 414 Light Street building downtown. Both are owned by Matthew Kenney, who has plant-based restaurants in many cities. I’m excited to try Double Zero, which offers pizzas, small plates and desserts for lunch and dinner (gluten-free crust also available). Their other restaurant in the building is Liora, which looks like a beautiful little brunch and dinner spot. (The Baby Gem Caesar and Curried Cauliflower are calling my name.) They offer $5.00 parking (a steal at the Inner Harbor!) if you park in the garage at 414 Light. Can’t wait to try it later this summer.
A $5 GAME CHANGER AT DIPASQUALE’S
I don’t really offer “pro tips” but, dang. This one occurred to me this past week when I was at Di Pasquale’s new location in Canton. I bought a $4.99 container of their housemade olive spread to make myself a muffuletta sandwich. I haven’t actually made the sandwich yet, but have been snacking on the olive spread with crackers and it’s insanely good. So nice that Joe Di Pasquale himself waited on me — gotta love supporting a local business! I also got the Real Italian (my favorite Italian cold cut, tied with Palmisano’s) and some beautiful mortadella. And, I didn’t have time to stop at Sprout’s next door, but will next time.
Do you love a pretty rim on a cocktail as much as me? Well, this article by my friend Jess Mayhugh at Thrillist will tell you more about some bartenders’ favorite rim ingredients and it”ll give you ideas to try on your own drinks at home. It’s not all salt and sugar, people.
PUT A RIM ON IT
My favorite takeaway from the very wise Dre Barnhill at Clavel: “Whether it’s salt for margaritas, pink peppercorns for a Paloma, or sugar for a Sidecar, only doing half the rim gives the guest a break and a choice.” Never really thought about that, but it’s very smart!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT AS YOU HEAD OUT TO RESTAURANTS
This week was a weird week. Very randomly, I made plans over the past month with friends for four nights in a row this past week. I’m fatigued at that point, thankfully spending my Sunday alone. (It’s all about balance!) I gotta say going out felt really good and odd at same time. Every place we visited was busy. Like super busy. Servers, bartenders, managers, all running, smiling, thanking guests, as they do.
It’s important to keep in mind that for restaurants, the pandemic is far from over. Not even close. As things begin to feel ‘normal’ to guests (after all, hospitality is about making guests feel comfortable), please keep this front of mind: your favorite restaurants are still struggling. Many folks are barely hanging on…they’re very short staffed, dealing with very high food costs and so many more challenges. One friend told me the other day that he has to keep using recycled plastic products indefinitely due to staff shortages. Picture this: one place I went a few months ago had the same ONE person greeting guests, taking temperatures, making the cocktails, running payments and bussing tables. And he was amazing. I just can’t imagine how that feels. Others cannot open up seating at their bars because, again, not enough staff. Some places are staffed by nearly 100% new employees and will be looking to hire again when college students head back to school in a few weeks. I know this is not fun stuff to share, but it’s very important to be aware.
Please visit your favorite places, maybe try some new ones. They need you. If you go out for a meal, as always, be patient and tip as much as you possibly can — 25% minimum is where I currently am. To me, dining out is a huge treat. I don’t want to ever forget that.
Here are some highlights from this past week’s adventures. So good, so thankful.
(A very, very good) crab cake at Thames Street Oyster House
Scallops at Thames Street Oyster House
Thank you so much to everyone who’s told me they enjoy this weekly newsletter. I’m always amazed at how the content just sort of comes together. Baltimore is getting back. Keep supporting our local restaurants.
And, as always…I ask that you send this on to a friend or two — and follow me on Instagram: amylangrehr.