Saturday, December 20, 2014

Johnny's Bistro on Main & Bean Hollow - Historic Ellicott City, MD

Located in the heart of Ellicott City's historic district, Johnny's Bistro on Main is a quaint eatery that serves traditional favorites with a creative twist.  

The restaurant, named after owner and managing partner Johnny Breidenbach, serves rustic sandwiches, paninis, tapas, innovative salads and gourmet pizza "with a creative touch."

I was joined by Gracie on this culinary adventure. We both decided to order a sandwich from "Between the Bread" selections listed on the menu that arrived with skinny fries and a pickle. 

The "It's a Wrap" caught my eye - a grilled Tuscan chicken, fresh mozzarella, sliced proscuitto, mescaline greens, roasted red peppers, herbs and garlic aioli ($9.99).  The saltiness of the proscuitto and seasoned, tender chicken combined with the fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers packed a nice a one-two punch of flavors in my mouth. The ingredients were extremely fresh. I would have preferred less garlic aioli but that's just my preference.  Next time I will ask for the spread on the side.
It's a Wrap 

California Dreaming
Gracie ordered the California Dreaming sandwich - roasted turkey with apple wood bacon, guacamole, lettuce and tomato served on rustic herbed ciabatta ($9.99). It was a hit with Gracie who decided to opt out of the bacon slices. I took a bite and agree. The bread was outrageously good. I could have eaten just the bread and been one happy Dude. 

Creme Brûlée 

For dessert, the "Freshly Made Creme Brûlée with Vanilla Bean" ($5.99) was calling our names from the "Sweet Temptations" menu. We gave it a shot.   Although it was a small portion and we were full from the sandwiches, it was so well made with fresh ingredients and so tasty that we didn't leave a morel.

We continued our evening in historic Ellicott City by walking around the downtown area admiring the antique stores and restaurants all dressed up in Christmas fashion. We stopped into a nearby coffee house (we both have a passion for coffee) called Bean Hollow Coffee and Connections - a cozy vegetarian and vegan coffeehouse/restaurant that serves a ridiculous variety of coffee all day long (up to 10 pm except on Sundays) along with a selection of food including desserts, sandwiches and salads (last order taken at 9:30 pm).

Gracie was filled with mucho happiness from her coffee 

Bean Hollow dressed in its holiday finery

Gracie ordered the Americano- a full-bodied espresso shot poured into a cup of hot water. This coffee keeps the integrity of the espresso taste without the strength of a regular, unadulterated espresso shot. I ordered the triple Americano (an americano with three espresso shots).

Bean Hollow was a terrific place to end our historic Ellicott City journey.

Before the night ended, we took a ride to the Christmas house in the near-by Beaverbrook neighborhood in Columbia, MD to visit the Christmas house at 5034 Durham Rd. 

It looked exactly how I remembered the house - just spectacular with what's reported to be over 200,000 lights.  I think Gracie was impressed too. 

Sadly, we learned from the people we met walking around the Christmas display that this is the LAST year the house will have a big show for the holiday. Read more about the house here  I highly recommend you visit this Christmas light display before it shines no more.

- Charles 

Johnny's Bistro on Main on Urbanspoon

Bean Hollow Roastery & Espresso on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Galway Bay Irish Pub & City Dock Cafe - Downtown Annapolis, MD

I traveled to Annapolis recently to meet my friend Gracie who recommended we eat at Galway Irish Pub. 
Located in the historic area on Maryland Avenue, the restaurant is only blocks away from the Governor's mansion, State House and the Annapolis waterfront.

Our waiter Shane was terrific. He offered several suggestions that turned out to be fantastic.

Gracie ordered a traditional Irish speciality, the Shepard's pie -  ground beef sirloin cooked in a casserole with onion, peas, and carrot, topped with mashed potatoes.

Here's what Gracie had to say about the dish, "mmmonmMMMMMmmmMMMmm tasty." The complexity of flavors from the fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes, tender beef, and fresh vegetables make one sinful pie. We both thought the presentation was awesome too.

Gracie is full of abundant joy from her pie
The antique bookshelf and brick
wall gave the restaurant
 a traditional and cozy feel 

I ordered the Grilled Chicken & Irish Bacon sandwich - a breast of chicken charbroiled, topped with a grilled strip of Irish Bacon and melted cheddar, served on a toasted Amoroso roll. This was my first time trying Irish Bacon and OHHHH BOY was it delicious.

The chicken breast was tender with just a tid bit of charcoal for flavor. Although this sandwich combination is not unique, somehow this Irish Pub found a way to make it standout. Maybe its the salty Irish bacon. Or the sharp cheddar cheese. But it was great.  The steak fries just made the entire dish sing with their hot, crisp outside and tender, soft inside.
After enjoying a great dinner, we continued the evening with a walk around downtown Annapolis admiring the stores and restaurants all dressed up for Christmas. We stopped into a nearby coffeehouse, City Dock Cafe, where one of Gracie's friend Haley was working.
City Dock Coffee dressed in its holiday finery 
City Dock Coffee is a quaint, cozy coffeehouse located near the bottom of Maryland Avenue.
The Powerhouse coffee

Since I had a long drive home at night, Haley recommended the Powerhouse coffee - coffee mixed with three espresso shots. It was slightly bitter but packed a powerful punch. Without a doubt, the drink did help me stay focused and alert my whole ride home.

Garcie ordered the Americano - a full-bodied espresso shot poured into a cup of hot water. This coffee keeps the integrity of the espresso taste without the strength of a regular, unadulterated espresso shot.

City Dock Cafe was the perfect spot to end a fun night. The staff was friendly and the coffees well mixed and tasty.

Thanks to Gracie for showing me around historic Annapolis.
The Americano 

Galway Bay Irish Restaurant on Urbanspoon

City Dock Cafe on Urbanspoon