While studying flute performance and classical dance at the University of Wyoming, Michelle Shaw's endeavors were hampered by constant back pain. She sought relief through massage therapy and yoga, and this holistic care soon developed into a passion, inspiring her to attend the Baltimore School of Massage. She now helps others revel in muscle relief at Mount Vernon Wellness. Within a private treatment room overseen by a serene painting of Buddha, she eases sports- and work-related injuries, which are often caused by repetitive motion, poor posture, and pole-vaulting over cubicles. To treat these ailments, she draws on an array of modalities such as Swedish, deep-tissue, and reflexology massage. She also employs traditional Thai-massage techniques, which incorporate pressure-point therapy, energy work, and yoga-like stretching to regain bodily balance.
If instead of attending galas, Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre joined a yoga class, the venue would probably look a lot like MV Fitness. Inside a Mount Vernon mansion, stationary cycles face floor-to-ceiling windows beneath a vintage chandelier that is warmly reflected in an ornately framed mirror hung above the fireplace. Enormous wooden french doors open onto rooms full of weight machines and cardio equipment, potted plants filling lungs with fresh oxygen as members get into shape. In between punching bags and wall-mounted weightlifting machines, pop art and stained-glass windows add to the antique space's genuine allure. As Baltimore magazine wrote in its Top Gyms of 2012 column, besides the personal trainers and drop-in group fitness classes, “you’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier gym out there.”
Brunch Café | New American Dinner | Trendy Cocktail Bar | Dog-Friendly Patio
Where to Sit: Since City Cafe is split into three sections, where you sit depends on your dining motives. Select from the café section (for morning coffee), the elegant cocktail lounge (for late-night and happy-hour drinks), or the cozy, split-level dining room (for more leisurely meals).
When to Go: Swing by for dinner on Tuesday, when every bottle of wine is discounted by $10 and select entrees only cost $15.
Inside Tip: When the weather's nice, ask your pooch to accompany you for brunch on the dog-friendly patio.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Sip a coffee while scoping out the tiny, but intriguing collection of books at Read Street Books (229 West Read Street).
After: Get your daily dose of culture at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (1212 Cathedral Street) or the Lyric Opera House (140 West Mt. Royal Avenue), both just blocks from City Cafe.
At a glance, Indigma?s name?a mash-up of ?India? and ?enigma??seems cryptic, but the restaurant?s menu is anything but. Instead, it demystifies the subcontinent?s diverse and richly historic cuisine, grouping each entree by its region of origin and deconstructing its colors and flavors into seemingly innocent ingredients. The team of Indian chefs approaches these with a respect for their home?s iconic recipes, but also demonstrates a willingness to experiment.
Sichuan lamb serves as a touchstone for the cuisine?s Indo-Chinese influences, distinguishing itself from more traditional entrees such as Southern Indian dosas and Northern Indian murgh tandoori, which a reviewer from the Baltimore Sun lauded as ?some the best tandoor chicken I've ever had.? The chefs also create contemporary interpretations of classic flavors, as in the open-face samosas with seasoned potatoes and peas in bowls of crispy pastries.
Located within a refurbished townhouse, according to Baltimore magazine, Indigma?s ambiance mirrors the chefs? commitment to homestyle cuisine with a refined touch. Vibrant colors fill the rooms, which feature salmon, fuchsia, and saffron-yellow walls. At the same time, accents such as crisp white tablecloths and crystal chandeliers add a slight air of refinement to help make first dates feel special and to keep monocle-wearing gentlemen from feeling out of place.
Steve Appel and Lee Whitehead found themselves in a design dilemma regarding the messy home of a wealthy client. She wanted to sell her house, but no one would buy the building in its current state. Instead of passing on the case, the duo visited the home and constructed a battle plan during a 10-hour consultation. Within the week, they'd completely repainted and replaced most of her furniture, readying her for a Saturday open house, and by Sunday, she'd received multiple offers from potential buyers. By Monday, the house was sold. As graphic-design majors and interior-design enthusiasts, Steve and Lee have used their talents in many such situations, under short time limits and with exceptional challenges, to refurbish a range of spaces—even helping famed baker Duff Goldman of Food Network's Ace of Cakes choose furnishings for his lobby at Charm City Cakes.
At Nouveau Contemporary Goods, the duo fills their space with an ever-changing roster of upholstery, dining sets, bed sets, and colorful crystal-infused wallpaper. Modern furnishings such as egg chairs and aquamarine crushed-velvet benches share a mutual territory with traditional pieces such as a red cabinet with a marble top and the actual couple who posed for American Gothic. In addition to showpieces, samplings of glass panels, blinds, and other window treatments ooze inspiration for potential clients coming up with their own projects. Anyone on a tight deadline can also count on the design duo for same-day delivery, be it for full showroom sets or unique recycled artwork and furniture.
The Velleggia family first laid their roots in Little Italy in 1970, establishing a specialty grocery store where they began to sell a combination of imported and housemade Italian foods. Relying on time-tested traditions and natural ingredients, they continue their culinary venture in much the same manner today. The highlight at Casa di Pasta is the store's homemade and hand-cut pastas, from gnocchi and tortellini to 26 kinds of ravioli stuffed with the likes of butternut squash, lobster, or smoked mozzarella and mushroom. Premade pans of lasagna and frozen italian sausages round out the selection of homemade goods that customers can pick up for nightly dinners or to feed groups at parties. Coolers and shelves also brim with olive oils, vinegars, breads, sweets, and cheeses imported directly from the Old World.