Some states are locking people down — only to get their food and household supplies thrown at their door — like "Silence of the Lambs." Some states trust their citizens —judgment during the pandemic, adhering more to the old cowboy song, "Don't Fence Me In," by by Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter.
Other states, like Maryland, are asking local jurisdictions to determine their own guidelines.
During December's holiday season, on Baltimore City's newly elected mayor's first day in office, his first official action was to close all restaurants to dining. The Baltimore City/County line has changed numerous times throughout the years. Without a Checkpoint Charlie, it's only natural that folks in shutdown counties meander over to the ones that are at least trying to have some semblance of normal.
The State of Maryland currently requires masks for those above the age of 5 at all public indoor establishments and all outdoor establishments where social distancing is not possible, with an exception for consuming food or beverages. There are fluctuating limitations on capacity in Baltimore County, along with limitations on opening hours that are a combination of legal restrictions and economic realities for the business owners. Best to call them right before you head out.
Falls Road, a historic spoke off the Mason-Dixon Byway with origins as a Native American trail, follows the Jones Falls and served as a thoroughfare for cotton and grist mills getting their goods to the Port of Baltimore.
As you leave the city, where parks have been renamed and historic statues toppled, there's a sudden and remarkable change in scenery. Along the picturesque road, you'll find renowned horse farms, stately homes, prep schools entering their second century, parks, bike trails, quaint individually owned shops and historic places to eat.
Even now, The Valley Inn remains the place to see and be seen:
(Photo by, and courtesy of, the author. Used with express persmission)
Indoors features a variety of styles, to fit every mood: there's an oyster bar, a tavern space, even a special occasion dining area. The huge outdoor patio — that feels more like a resort — was thoroughly renovated a few years ago, with a game space, firepits, patio tables, wooded areas and an outdoor bar with flat-screen TVs: perfect for watching the game or the Preakness race.
They've cleverly enclosed that bar for the winter, allowing for good social distancing between tables.
The building dates from 1832, where it's been in continuous use as a tavern, aside from the Prohibition years. There's been scant change to the architecture. One of their great classic cocktails is The Southside, a simpler take on the Mojito.
What began as a grocery store in 1938, is now John Brown General and Butchery. It retains its vintage vibe when stores used to house their owners in back. The elegant stone building was laid at a diagonal to the road and uses an old annex structure as a coffeehouse. The butchers break down meat, including locally sourced meats, right up front. There's a restaurant serving flavorful hot and cold meaty sandwiches for lunch at their outdoor picnic table for now.
The store section has local veggies, special condiments and upscale liquor for sale.
What was an obscure dive bar has been utterly transformed in the past year as a beautiful log cabin-like tavern, frequented by horse trainers, bikers and cool professionals in the know: The Butler Cabin. Before the pandemic, they had great live bands, but there's still lots of flat-screen TVs, a roaring fire, billiard table, computerized jukebox. The streamlined menu has affordable, next-level munchies like Southern-style Angus hot dogs. The bar itself has everything from your favorite brews to rare liqueurs.
Up the road and a mile to the west is farm-to-glass Farmacy Brewing.
Located on a spacious working horse farm, this family-owned microbrewery grows the flavoring produce for their special seasonal beers right on site. With lots of space and outdoor tables, they have social distancing taken care of. There are also live bands, just check the schedule.
You're welcome to bring your own food to eat.
Up Falls and a mile to the east is family-style eating, just like the good old days: Friendly Farm. Dine inside with picture windows overlooking the farm or outdoors in their gazebo or around one of their several ponds.
After you order one of their classic local specialties – crunchy fried chicken, Maryland crab cakes, etc. — the table is served all you can eat appetizers, homestyle side dishes, beverages and dessert. In case you're wondering, yes, the melt-in-your-mouth sugar biscuits are worth the carbs!
Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the youngest girl to solo with the Chicago Symphony. Having traveled the world, Tamar shares flavors, history, arts and insightful interviews with fascinating folks from all walks of life. She’s held her own on TV with celebrities like Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren, Dr. Phil and Peter Frampton. Tamar has a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore. She is a practicing member of the Maryland Bar and a Kentucky Colonel. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman Reports — More Here.
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