By Karlyn DeSteno
If you are like me, usually I’m completely stumped when it comes to spots for mid-week dates. I can clearly remember the places that didn’t go so well for mid-week, apparently. But after some consideration I decided to turn to dating pros for suggestions: married friends. It turns out it pays to ask the experts. From fine dining to casual coffee, here are the top three picks for mid-week dates in Baltimore City.
Dinner Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Bar Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 5 p.m. – midnight
Henninger’s is one of Baltimore’s hidden gems, deftly combining classic Bawlmer quirk (black and white photographs of the Kennedys with Martin Luther King Jr., World War II memorabilia, historic paintings, the background strains of 40s-era golden oldies) with genuine, intimate elegance. A dozen or so small, candlelit tables fill the dining room, which feels and smells more like a home away from home than a mere restaurant. And indeed, this ambitious East Coast American menu is crafted and cooked by Henninger’s two owners and resident chefs, married couple Jayne and Kenny Vieth. The two enforce a no reservations policy (except for large parties), so come early and dine happy. We suggest the bacon-wrapped shrimp in Pernod sauce for a decadent appetizer, and the pepper-seared tuna or filet mignon for an entrée—but you’re unlikely to find a miss on the menu.
The Owl Bar at the Belvedere
Bar Hours: Sunday Noon – 11 p.m.; Mon – Tues 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Wed 11:30 – 12:30 a.m.; Thu – Fri
11:30 – 2 a.m.; Sat 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.
The Owl Bar, downstairs from the historic Belvedere Hotel, is full of stories. The legend goes that prohibition-era revelers read the signals in the owl’s eyes to tell if the coast was clear for drinking. If the Owl’s eyes were blinking, the taps were flowing, and if unblinking, the crowd was teetotaling. The halls of the Owl Bar are filled with pictures of notables who once frequented the bar or the hotel—Mark Twain, Clark Gable, the Duchess of Windsor, and plenty more. The décor is dark, ornate, and classy, but drinks are reasonable, and dress is casual. The menu is diverse American bar fare: sure to satisfy and excellent for the price, but nothing gourmet. Our one gripe is the inconsistent musical choices—Aerosmith didn’t seem to match the historic vibe—but that’s an occasional trouble only, and if the ghost of Clark Gable can overlook it, so can I. Brush up on all the history of this great bar and impress your date, or at least have something to keep the conversation going!
Bohemian Coffee House
Café Hours: Sun 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Mon – Wed 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Thu 10 – 12 a.m.; Fri – Sat 10 – 3 a.m.
If alcohol isn’t your mid-week social lubricant of choice, head on over to the Bohemian Coffee House for a schmancy coffee drink and conversation. Live music occurs almost nightly, with some of the best acts in town playing, amazingly, for free. (Tip to impress, gents!) Food is casual and café-style. The café features plenty of vegan and gluten-free options made in-house or fresh by local bakeries like Sweet Sin and Dirty Carrot, plus traditional gourmet pastries from French Oven Bakery–possibly the best chocolate croissants we’ve ever tasted. The baristas, by the way, are intuitive about dates. And if alcohol suits you later, you’re just a few steps away from Liam’s Tavern and the Club Charles for a casual nightcap.
Karlyn DeSteno is a writer and artist living in Baltimore, Md.