Nando’s Peri-Peri to give away free meals via Facebook

As part of its March 20 Baltimore grand opening buzz, the spicy, flame broiled chicken restaurant Nando’s Peri-Peri will be giving away free meals via Facebook.

The “Afro-Portuguese” restaurant that opened a franchise in Gambrills in December, will expand to Baltimore this month with a new eatery at 421 W. Baltimore St, near the University of Maryland Baltimore and the Hippodrome Theatre. The very first Nando’s opened in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987.

Beginning March 18, free Nando’s meals will be offered based on a social media invitation and confirmed reservation time. Those seeking a chicken dinner are directed to the Nando’s Peri-Peri Facebook page for further instruction.

The restaurant is seeking a liquor license from the city’s Liquor Board this month.

Burton Heiss, CEO of Nando’s Peri-Peri USA, said in a statement: “We’ve been receiving high volumes of requests from our customers to open a Baltimore location, and downtown Baltimore is a young, fun market that we believe will quickly embrace the Nando’s brand and food.”

The dish on the Dish Mob

Dish MobWhat do you get when you cross Restaurant Week with a flash mob? A food fight would be a good guess (with enormous fun potential) but the correct answer is slightly more innovative.

Say hello to Dish Mob, a collaboration between Restaurant.com, a site that offers deals on dining, and Cash Mob, a national campaign to encourage support of locally-owned businesses. Cash Mobs have been organized in dozens of cities nationwide, aiming to push as many people as possible into the small shops located in that community.

Organizers are hosting five Dish Mobs — the dining version of Cash Mobs — across the country from Wednesday through March 1. The campaign hits Baltimore on Feb. 26 for a Dish Mob at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, at 6526 Holabird Ave. in Baltimore, co-hosted by local blogger Maggie Miller of Family Frugal Fun.

Katie O’Connor, events coordinator at Jimmy’s, said Miller and several other bloggers are scheduled to arrive around 10:30 a.m. to sample several appetizers: crab balls, coconut shrimp, stuffed mushroom caps and mozzarella sticks.
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Restaurant rendezvous

Baltimore county Restaurant WeekJust when you thought you’d prevailed through the diet-sabotaging holiday season (Pumpkin pie! Christmas cookies! Champagne!) and actually made progress on that health-related New Year’s resolution, there’s another temptress in town.

That’s right, it’s Restaurant Week — the irresistible combination of great food and great deals. But Restaurant “Week” is really a misnomer because diners don’t have just a mere seven days to partake. With prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at participating restaurants, it’s the ultimate opportunity to sample new options on the dining scene or finally make a reservation somewhere pricier than your budget usually allows.

First up in the 2013 Winter Restaurant Week season is Baltimore County, where the promotion begins Friday and runs through Jan. 27 with about 45 restaurants offering one, two or three courses for between $10.13 and $35.13. Among this year’s participants are McFaul’s Ironhorse Tavern, The Peppermill Restaurant & Lounge, Mari Luna Latin Grille, Friendly Farm Restaurant and Artful Gourmet Bistro.

If none of Baltimore County’s offerings pique your interest, head on down to Howard County, where about 20 restaurants are participating in their own promotion from Jan. 14 through Jan. 28.

Howard County Tourism & Promotion chose a global theme for the event, asking restaurateurs to incorporate international flavors into their special menus, which may include one to four courses, priced from $10.13 to $40.13.

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Eat, fly, love

If travelers through Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport have a long enough layover, they should scoot on over to Concourse B to eat, according to The Daily Meal website.

The site recently listed Obrycki’s as one of the world’s 31 best airport restaurants. (Was that a sigh we heard from world-weary frequent fliers who say the bar — or bar-restaurant — is set pretty low for such a list?)

Obrycki’s Concourse B location (there is a smaller bar on Concourse A) opened at BWI in July 2006. The Daily Meal recommends crab cakes, of course.

 

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You want a franchise with that?

The owners of The Melting Pot restaurants are coming north with a chain of fast casual hamburger places called Burger 21, with the first establishment in Maryland set for Rockville.

Burger 21 is already established in the Tampa, Fla., area, and its announcement this week includes planned franchises in Charlotte, N.C., and Northern Virginia.

The company promises to produce food “beyond the better burger.” (That’s a better slogan than the commercial tagline featured at Burger 21’s website: “What burgers would eat if burgers could eat burgers.”)

The menu includes a double-stacked hamburger called “The OMG!” and seafood, veggie, turkey and chicken versions, along with salads (as if!) and milkshakes.

 

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A premium on National Premium

national premiumNational Premium beer — the more refined older brother to Natty Boh — is making its comeback on Baltimore taps Tuesday night thanks to a realtor from Easton who’s determined to return the brew, which was discontinued in 1996, to its former hometown glory.

Tim Miller, who bought the National Premium brand name and tracked down the recipe last year, is hosting a relaunch party at The Owl Bar beginning at 7 p.m. The beer will be available for $2 all night long, with the first 200 people through the door receiving a free pint glass.

When the National Brewing Company began churning out the stuff in 1936, it was marketed as Baltimore’s more upscale, full-bodied and hoppier alternative to Boh.

But that was then.

In a town with a burgeoning demand for craft beer (read: increasingly full of beer snobs), National Premium likely won’t become the next hot commodity. But Charm City locals have a fierce loyalty toward anything Baltimore-born, so you can bet they’ll embrace the tradition and at least pretend it’s the best thing since… well, the original version.

Miller had hoped to brew the lager right here in Baltimore — where it was first produced by National Brewing Company, along with National Bohemian and Colt 45 — and reintroduce it to younger generations.

He was successful — sort of. Bottles of National Premium are back on shelves but it’s brewed in Delaware.

(Similarly, National Bohemian still enjoys a cult following here but hasn’t been brewed in this city since the ’70s, when the company changed hands. It’s now brewed in North Carolina.)

Miller had hoped Premium wouldn’t have the same story as Mr. Boh and he eventually hopes to find a brewery in Maryland. For now, though, he’ll have to settle for seeing the beer back on bars’ draft lists.

So, beer enthusiasts, as you raise your glasses tonight, make sure you toast to Miller and his quest to reclaim National Premium beer.

Here’s to a hoppy ending.

No delivery of pizza question?

Pizza Hut offered a pizza a week for 30 years or more than $15,000 to anyone who would pose the pizza-centric question “Sausage or pepperoni?” during Tuesday’s presidential debate. But the promotion has been panned — and we’re not talking pan-style pizza — and so the company has backed off.

Debate No. 2 between President Obama and Mitt Romney will be a town-hall-type affair with questions posed by members of the audience at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. After encouraging a questioner to, as Gawker put it, “embarrass themselves on live television before the president of the United States and millions of their fellow Americans” and receiving other criticism — such as from Stephen Colbert — for the stunt, Pizza Hut instead has refocused the promotion on its website. Pizza Hut said it will choose a winner from among those who enter the contest on the site.

A Pizza Hut spokesman said the change was a “natural progression of the campaign” because more people “wished they could get in on it.”

However, the company also said it will honor its original offer if someone does indeed ask the meaty question Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Wendy’s new ‘do

Wendy isn’t letting her hair down, but her pigtails look a little more relaxed. And maybe that will help make you decide to drop in for a burger and a Frosty.

Wendy’s announced this week that the hamburger chain is redesigning its logo as part of a rebranding effort that will include renovating its outlets with cushier seating and flat-screen televisions. The new logo will start appearing on its restaurants in March, and Wendy’s plans to have renovated half of the 1,425 company-owned locations within three years.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick said the company wants to position itself as a “top-end” fast food option.

“Our goal is to be a five-star restaurant at a three-star price,” he said.

Wendy’s has about 6,000 restaurants in North America, with 136 in Maryland, according to Menuism.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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Better latte than never

In Maryland, you can patronize a Starbucks in towns from Aberdeen to Westminster. And if Starbucks could find a town that started with an X, then it would probably put a shop there and complete the alphabet with ones in Yellow Springs and Zion.

So, yeah, it’s not big news that there is a Starbucks just about everywhere. But a diligent blogger has gone to even greater lengths to figure out exactly how ubiquitous the shops are.

James Davenport has devised a map that shows, wherever you live in the continental United States, you’re never more than 170 miles from a Starbucks (which nearly matches McDonald’s, which has made sure you’re never more 107 miles away from a Big Mac). In other terms, 80 percent of the American population has a Starbucks within 20 miles.

But, no, I didn’t post this while sipping on a Caffe Misto, getting biscotti crumbs on my keyboard and tapping away at a laptop while imagining myself to be a Seattle coffee hipster.

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You want some whine with that wine?

The lesson of this story is that the customer is always right — so just take his word for it.

A wine bar in Frederick was fined $300 on Monday, the Frederick News-Post reports, because a manager drank wine while behind the bar. Representatives of The Wine Kitchen at the liquor board hearing didn’t dispute that the manager took a couple of sips, but said he did so because a customer complained the wine was flat.

According to the manager, the wine was fine. But it wasn’t fine for him to be drinking it behind the bar, which is against liquor board regulations. Hence the fine. However, the board said The Wine Kitchen doesn’t have to pay the $300 as long as it has no other violation in the next 90 days.

Just wondering: Do you think the disgruntled customer, his wine-tasting acumen having been dissed, reported The Wine Kitchen to the board?

And in honor of this story:

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