Business looks to be blooming in Mount Washington's commercial district. On Newbury Street, the Mount Washington Tavern recently celebrated the first anniversary of its reopening after a late-night fire tore through the North Baltimore gathering spot.
There are other promising developments in the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, the longtime home of cozy restaurants like Ethel & Ramone's, Desert Cafe and Crepe du Jour.
Ethel & Ramone's will reopen early next year as Ethel's Creole Kitchen. The restaurant is currently closed for renovations. The Sulgrave Avenue eatery has evolved over the years from its 1993 origins as a coffee and tea room. The biggest change was in 1999, when Edward M. Bloom joined original owner Jeff Berkow and helped relaunch the space as Ethel & Ramone's, a specialist in Cajun and Creole food.
Until recently, Bloom and Berkow had been leasing their space, but Bloom purchased the building in July.
When Ethel's Creole Kitchen opens, it will have outdoor dining porches upstairs and downstairs, and its menu, Bloom said, will paint a more complete picture of what he calls "Maryland Creole" cuisine.
During renovations, Ethel's will continue to do business at the Baltimore Farmers' Market, where it sells jambalaya and Cajun breakfast sandwiches.
On nearby Kelly Avenue, the Nickel Taphouse is scheduled to open on Wednesday in the Kelly Avenue space that was most recently Blue Sage and, before that, The Falls.
Owner Robbin Haas, the man behind the popular Birroteca, has described the Nickel Taphouse (1604 Kelly Ave., 443-869-6240) as a tribute to the unpretentious taverns of his hometown, Buffalo, where your bartender would pour drinks and prepare unfussy fare, like "beef on weck," a roast beef on kummelweck, a caraway roll native to western New York.
A new Liberatore's concept The operators of Liberatore's in Timonium are opening an adjacent wine bar. Liquid Lib's will open on Monday, Nov. 25.
This will be the first wine bar in the Liberatore's family of restaurants, which includes five locations in Harford, Carroll and Baltimore counties. The first location, in Eldersburg, opened in 1988.
"I have been dreaming of opening a place like this for years," said John Liberatore, who operates the Timonium restaurant on Deereco Road.
Liquid Lib's will provide a new option for residents of northern Baltimore County, which is dominated, Liberatore said, by taverns on one end and a handful of fine-dining destinations on the other.
The wine bar will have seating for 85, including 20 seats at the bar. The atmosphere, Liberatore said, will be rustic and cozy, with some seating on sofas in a lounge area. The wine program will feature a "cruvinet" system, a wine station that will allow customers to self-dispense 1-, 3- or 5-ounce portions of featured wines.
"It's a great way for someone to taste a wine without making a commitment to a full glass," said Nicola Angelini, Liquid Lib's wine director.
The menu will consist of small plates and pizza from a gas-fired brick oven.
Each Liberatore's restaurant is operated by a different family member, and each has its own personality. While there are menu items common to all five restaurants, there are differences, too. The Liberatore's in Perry Hall, for instance, is a casual restaurant specializing in pasta dishes. The Timonium restaurant has more of a fine-dining atmosphere and specializes in veal and grilled meats.
For its first week of operation only, Liquid Lib's will open at 5 p.m., but beginning Dec. 1, it will open at 11:30 a.m. for lunch daily.
The Liberatore family has also announced plans to open a steakhouse named Lib's Grill in Perry Hall. The restaurant will take over the former Manhattan Grill space in Honeygo Village.
Liquid Lib's is at 9515 Deereco Road. For more information call Liberatore's Timonium at 410-561-3300 or visit liberatores.com.