Off The Beaten Path

by Scooter Holt

Everyone knows you shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach, but no one ever told me that you shouldn’t help a friend move on an empty stomach. Moving requires food and beer, in my opinion. After schlepping large items of furniture and belongings down narrow flights of steps, may I suggest The Dizz on 300 W. 30th Street, in Hampden. It fit the bill.

Walking into The Dizz is like stepping into a time gone by. Careworn wood bar, old “pleather “ barstools, all the trappings of the old neighborhood bar. This is the kind of place your grandmother used to go soak up suds. Well, if your grandmother was anything like my grandmother Vera. The difference is that this place has become quite the hangout for the younger crowd. The beer list sports some great microbrews, and the bar has all the well-placed favorites. While I was quaffing a Yuengling and munching on one of their extraordinary cheese burgers, Ace of Cakes, the Food Network television series, was filming an episode out on the street. From what I could tell, the cast and crew had managed to convince a Baltimore city employee, driving a small city cart with traffic cones in the back, to race one of their Vespas down the block, bringing normal activity on the street to a screeching halt. Clearly, lunch at The Dizz can be way more entertaining than you bargained for, and at no extra cost.

That evening, it was off to Alizeé, located at The Inn at the Colonnade, on University Parkway. There’s a serious pool of talent in this latest enterprise. Daniel Raffel, formerly of Sascha’s, and currently of his own catering company, A La Carte Catering, is consulting his little heart out on this endeavor, and it shows. The wine list is spectacular, and I sipped on a ‘06 Pouilly Fuisse to kick off the evening. Christian deLutis, formerly of The Wine Market and Corks, is manning the kitchen, and the menu clearly shows his skill is in play here. Now, everyone knows there are two things I love most in a bar: a drink and a couch. This place obviously has the cocktails and a formidable wine list to keep me happy, but it also boasts two richly upholstered couches just screaming to be lounged on. As I caught up with Daniel, I downed a Vanilla Passion martini as he explained that the focus was on modern American cuisine. The wine list is chef driven, which becomes clear as one peruses the list and the menu together. A major draw to Alizeé is the no-nonsense pricing on all of its wines. You can snatch some real gems well under the price most upscale restaurants are charging. Did you enjoy your wine with dinner and you’re wondering where to find it? No sweat. Alizeé will be offering a retail wine shop just across the hall.

The space is wrapped in warm, rich colors, and the bar is extremely comfortable–they even have a piano player on the weekends. All the luxuries at just the right price. Just a helpful suggestion: if you plan on making this your food and drink destination after helping a friend move, make sure to pull yourself together first!

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