With no fireworks blasting over the harbor or Champagne countdowns at bars and restaurants, it’s shaping up to be a quiet New Year’s Eve in Charm City. But just because revelers can’t hit the town doesn’t mean the party is canceled.
The local hospitality industry has been hard at work coming up with ways to safely bring the fun to the small celebrations happening at home this year. Chefs are whipping up fancy dishes in to-go containers, local bottle shops are featuring their finest bubbly, and many family-friendly events (like The Charmery’s annual Kiddie Scoop Ball Drop that always happens a few hours before midnight) are happening virtually.
Another innovative idea being introduced this year is The Takeout Getdown—an initiative that grants diners access to a virtual dance party with music spun by DJ Impulse and Aaron Brown (aka Sovthpaw) when they order takeout from one of 11 participating bars and restaurants throughout the city. The event was co-created by Brown—who is coordinating the artists and day-of streaming—and local business advocate and marketing specialist Kathleen Overman.
“At the start of the pandemic, much like most of my food and beverage friends, my work reduced by half overnight,” says Overman, who is also the social media coordinator for Verde in Canton. “This year I’ve watched as [Verde] and so many industry friends have tried to reinvent the wheel with new strategies, experiences for customers, and outreach styles—it’s exhausting. And with the service industry support members like social media consultants, event coordinators, artists, and musicians, the story is the same.”
Overman says that, when the second restaurant shutdown happened, “a fire just lit.”
“Something had to be done to support these hard-working humans and help the community escape the social distancing blues,” she says. “I just so happen to love doing that. This is my Christmas present to the food industry.”
Diners who order from the following spots will receive a QR code to access the live party, which starts at 7:30 p.m., along with their carryout order. Here’s a rundown of what the eateries are offering:
The Bluebird Cocktail Room and Pub: Raise a glass to the end of 2020 with the bottled cocktails from this Hampden favorite. Go for a classic Negroni or Old Fashioned, or opt for a holiday box set that includes a sampling of some of the house favorites. Pair the drinks with takeout dishes including burgers, chili dogs, and cornmeal-crusted fried pickles.
Cocina Luchadoras: Treat your quarantine pod to a feast of tacos, tortas, and tamales from this Upper Fells Point spot. The carryout menu at Cocina Luchadoras also includes taco kits and catering trays if you’d like to mix and match meats such as carnitas, asada, and cochinita pibil.
Dutch Courage: It only makes sense that the team at this Old Goucher gin bar would choose to highlight a French 75 on New Year’s Eve. A special take-home package includes a batch of the gin-and-Champagne-infused cocktails along with a box of cheeses, cured meats, and all of the requisite accoutrements.
Fishnet: This Mount Vernon Marketplace mainstay, which offers online ordering and curbside pickup, is inviting diners to chow down on time-honored Lake Trout, crispy catfish sandwiches, ahi tuna tacos, and side orders of gooey mac and cheese.
H3irloom: Chefs David and Tonya Thomas are paying homage to their ancestors with a traditional fish fry—a meal tied to slavery that African Americans now eat on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of good luck and a long life. The special menu includes Chesapeake Blue fried catfish, potato salad, braised greens, and smoked black-eyed peas—all of which can be ordered a la carte or as a family meal that feeds four.
Heritage Kitchen: Chef Rey Eugenio is also sharing his family traditions this holiday with a four-course Filipino feast. Enjoy options such as chicken macaroni soup, boneless beef short ribs with cabbage and a sour tamarind broth, charred Brussels sprouts, and a coconut rice cake for dessert.
Peabody Heights Brewing: If you would rather skip the Champagne and crack open a cold one, look no further than this North Baltimore brewery. Head to Peabody Heights’ online store to stock up with crowlers, a build-your-own gift box, or a six-pack of the classic Old Oriole Park IPA.
Mr. Nice Guy Cocktails: The menu at this Canton cocktail haven is chock full of options to ring in 2021 accordingly. Whether you’re in search of a DIY kit (varieties include mules, vodka sodas, bellinis, and hot toddies), seasonal cocktail, or a spirit from the bottle shop, Mr. Nice Guy has you covered.
Orto: Fill up on pasta and chicken parm from this Station North favorite before the clock strikes twelve. Orto’s special New Year’s Eve “Pasta Club” menu includes two servings of fresh pasta and all of the ingredients to prepare it in your own kitchen. Among the options are ricotta ravioli, butternut squash agnolotti, and short rib ragu and pappardelle.
Sally O’s: Chef Jesse Sandlin is going all out with dishes such as Oysters Rockefeller, cream of crab soup, seared scallops over a brown butter sweet potato puree, butter-basted ribeye alongside a jumbo lump crab cake, and a salted caramel chocolate tart. The two or four-course prix-fixe menu can be paired with specialty wines or pre-bottled cocktails for two.
Verde: This Canton staple is providing everything you need for a festive date night at home. A special menu for two comes with two appetizers, two wood-fired pizzas, two desserts, one bottle of bubbly, and all of the necessary party hats and noisemakers.
If you prefer dinner over dancing, here are a few spots that aren’t participating in The Takeout Getdown, but are offering some stellar carryout dishes:
Alma Cocina Latina: This Venezuelan-inspired restaurant is all moved in to its new Station North digs and slated to open for carryout on January 5. To get a taste of what’s to come, enjoy a three-course New Year’s Eve menu that features dishes such as roasted salmon filet, squash cream soup, roasted whole cauliflower, and caramel coconut flan.
Avenue Kitchen & Bar: The team at this Hampden go-to is throwing in a free bottle of bubbly with every New Year’s Eve carryout order. Chef Audiel Vera has crafted a special menu that includes shrimp bisque, filet mignon, jumbo lump crab cakes, baked mac and cheese, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and New York cheesecake.
Blue Hill Tavern: Chateaubriand for two, anyone? This Brewer’s Hill hotspot will offer a few fancy New Year’s Eve specials along with its regular a la carte menu. Look out for options such as calamari salad, surf and turf, a tavern burger, or sous vide duck breast.
Bondhouse Kitchen: This Fells Point newbie is celebrating its first New Year’s Eve in style with a three-course prix-fixe. Start with a bottle of Champagne or sparkling rosé before moving on to an ember-roasted beet salad, sweet potato soup, prime short rib, Maryland rockfish, or apple streusel.
Cafe Gia: Cater your at-home soiree with traditional recipes from this Little Italy destination. Dishes to choose from include shrimp scampi bruschetta, osso buco milanese, lobster tail and lump crab meat over linguine, and a layered panettone tiramisu.
Charleston: Chef Cindy Wolf is presenting a three-course prix-fixe with elegant dishes such as shrimp and lobster bisque finished with cognac, beef short rib and foie gras wellington, venison osso buco cassoulet, and a passionfruit meringue tartlet.
Cosima: At this rustic Italian spot in Hampden’s Mill No. 1, chef Anthony Franklin is offering a three-course menu, as well as a few plates a la carte. Look out for lemon caper crab cakes, lentil soup, fettuccini frutti di mare, crispy duck breast, and a dark chocolate layer cake with amarena cherries.
The Corner Pantry: A festive “Boom, Pop, Fizz” box is on sale at this Mt. Washington staple. Each package includes two confetti wands for midnight, one dozen Devils on Horseback (bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola), one pack of rosemary shortbread, sharp cheddar cheese, and a bottle of Cane Collective’s cranberry fizz mixer.
Duck Duck Goose: Chef Ashish Alfred has prepared a holiday menu that includes your choice of one hors d’oeuvre, a protein, two family-style sides, and a baguette with salted honey butter. Swing by his Fells Point restaurant to pick up dishes such as crab cakes, Quiche Lorraine, herb-crusted tenderloin, citrus-glazed salmon, truffle mac and cheese, and spicy broccolini.
Gunther & Co.: Bring the fine-dining atmosphere to your home kitchen with the special six-course chef’s tasting menu from this Canton hotspot. Among the featured dishes are braised short rib ragu and potato gnocchi, seared scallops in andouille gumbo sauce, poached lobster with squid ink tagliatelle, and a whipped Tahitian vanilla panna cotta.
Gundalow Gourmet: Whether you’re looking for a spread of appetizers and dip platters or entrees for a sit-down meal, let Gundalow do all of the cooking for you. Browse the boutique catering menu to find dishes such as a charcuterie grazing board, caramelized onion dip, fig and brie puffed pastry bites, zaatar-crusted rack of lamb, and roast chicken with dates and olives.
The Local Oyster Drive-Thru Pop-Up: No New Year’s party is complete without oysters. Luckily, Nick Schauman and the True Chesapeake team are hosting a socially distanced drive-thru in the parking lot of Whitehall Mill in Hampden, which will allow fans to stock up from noon to 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The team will offer True Chesapeake’s signature Skinny Dippers (shucked or grilled) by the dozen or half-dozen, as well as giant crowlers of The Local Oyster stout.
Magdalena: Chef Mark Levy’s dinner for two includes a burrata salad, Beef Wellington with braised carrots and a Madeira jus, and red velvet cake with pecan praline crumble.
Mt. Washington Tavern: As this neighborhood haunt prepares to temporarily closed its doors on January 4 until dining restrictions are lifted, owners Rob Frisch and Dave Lichty are encouraging diners to order New Year’s Eve carryout as a way to support the tavern’s 30 staff members. Indulge in house favorites including crab dip, steamed shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops, Sriracha deviled eggs, and chicken piccata.
Papi’s Tacos: This beloved cantina, which has two locations in Fells Point and Canton, is saying “hasta luego” to 2020 with meal packages that feed two or four. Festive choices include a 32-oz house margarita, bottles of Champagne with flutes, guacamole, queso fundido, and tacos with all the fixins’.
Rec Pier Chop House: The three-course feast offered at this Fells Point restaurant inside the Sagamore Pendry hotel will come in oven-ready trays with reheating instructions. Enjoy a bottle of bubbly along with dishes such as a house caesar salad, tuna crudo with meyer lemon, boneless filet mignon, butter poached king crab over bucatini in a garlic cream sauce, and an almond semolina cake with chantilly cream.
Tagliata: A full-blown Italian feast is on the carryout menu at this Harbor East hotspot. The four-course New Year’s Eve offering includes options like maple balsamic Brussels sprouts, lobster and crab stuffed shells, rigatoni alla vodka, beef tenderloin in a red wine sauce, and tiramisu with mascarpone mousse.
The Tilted Row: The chefs in this Bolton Hill kitchen have put together a three-course menu of worldly dishes including spanakopita, she-crab soup, classic coddies with mustard sauce over saltines, pecan-crusted trout, squash-stuffed ravioli, roasted leg of lamb with mint pesto, and bread pudding with creme anglaise.
The Walrus Oyster & Ale House: If you’re ringing in 2021 from Columbia, stop by The Walrus to pick up batch cocktails and specialty wines to accompany oysters, lobster rolls, Chesapeake Bay ceviche, and other seafood specialties.