Behind ground-to-ceiling glass windows, giant butterflies flutter in the sunlight. Though they’re only paintings, they cheerfully greet visitors to Vernisage, introducing the upscale restaurant’s often-whimsical atmosphere. Despite the lighthearted decor, chefs practice serious interpretations of traditional Russian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern fare. They craft grilled shish kebabs, peppery dumplings, crepes, and hearty Russian stews using the same recipes that czars once used to melt invading snowmen armies. Servers pair both chilled and hot fare with a range of Georgian, Russian, and European wines to evoke exotic flavor bouquets. A large main dining hall can accommodate grand banquets, while a separate private dining room hosts smaller groups of up to 30 revelers or 60 children standing on each other’s shoulders.
Kolache Kreations adapts generations-old eastern European recipes to bake up fresh, circular pastry bundles loaded with sweet and savory fillings complemented by a menu of coffee drinks and more. Kolache's Old World wizards start with slightly sweet dough and tuck the tender foundation around scrumptious stuffings of fresh fruit, meats, cheeses, or an infinite series of incrementally smaller kolaches.
Inside HoneyBaked Ham, chefs uphold the same traditions that Harry J. Hoenselaar created more than 40 years ago. Back then, he chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop.
To go with the meats, the kitchen whips up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato souffl?. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.
Mad City Coffee's menu greets coffee-breakers and diners with a plethora of soups, salads, and sandwiches to complement coffees batch-roasted in-house. The Powerhouse sandwich ($7.50) karate-kicks hunger in the face with garlic hummus, sprouts, cucumbers, and swiss cheese, and the shrimp-salad sandwich ($8.50) delicately refreshes palates with tender shrimp, mayonnaise, and a hint of Old Bay. Graze through the greenery of one of Mad City Coffee's salads or platters ($4.45–$8.50), or pair up a soup of the day with a lonely sandwich half for a matchmaking special ($8.20–$10). Meanwhile, five daily coffee roasts boost energy ($1.90–$2.45 each), and Happy frappes ($4.75 each) create smiles with house-special espresso and a yogurt base mixed with coffee syrup and knock-knock jokes.
Terri's Cafe and Bakery's chefs plate classic American fare concocted from local beef and dairy, fresh game, market-fresh fish, and breads baked in-house. Inspired by American country kitchens, chefs smother homemade biscuits in sausage, chipped beef, or chipped-venison gravy, and dress light buttermilk or hearty buckwheat griddlecakes in toppings such as blueberries and chocolate chips. Ladled with spiced fig sauce or cranberries and nuts, baked brie warms up lunch-time palates for one of 18 bun-bound delights such as turkey breast roasted in-house, Maryland crab, or 8-ounce burger patties of bison or local beef. Knives come out at dinner to spar for bites of Kansas elk strip steak and engage in fencing matches across tables, and forks pirouette in angel-hair pasta tossed with plump shrimp and garlic. Pairs can dip into a dense, velvety bowl of local South Mountain Ice Cream to get their recommended daily intake of frozen dairy.
Each day, the Timonium and Frederick branches brew eight different types of coffee (Annapolis brews six per day), mining from the Baltimore Coffee & Tea Company's coffee reserve, a treasure cove of 120 different varieties of beans. Types of coffee ($1.60 for 12 oz.) are offered on rotating basis, with flavors such as coconut cream and pumpkin spice introducing new aromas to bored taste buds, as well as Swiss Water–decaffeinated varieties for those that love the taste of coffee but find themselves inadvertently building a shrine to Grease after two cups of regular joe. Introduce yourself to the well-crafted wares of Mother Earth with a cup of tea ($1.95 for 20 oz.)—the shop features more than 1,000 kinds of leaves for consumption, from medicinal herb tea to an Eastern Shore variety—or go full throttle with an espresso concoction ($1.50–$4.25).