Admiral's Cup full of plans
There's still no word on the food part of Admiral's Cup (1647 Thames St.,  534-5555, theadmiralscup.com), the newest-or maybe oldest-venture of the Kali Restaurant Group. The bar, one of Fells Point's longest-standing establishments, may possess one of the city's oldest pub licenses, which allows the place to serve drink without requiring food. Hence the long delay in setting up the kitchen. As of now, says general manager Kenneth Petty, the planned Chesapeake-influenced menu-a departure from Kali's collection of Greek-themed restaurants-"is a work in progress." Drinking, on the other hand, is already in full force. "We have an upscale wine list, craft beers on tap, and specialty cocktails: crushes, infusions, and smashes," he says. "We'll take you wherever you want to go." That said, he points out, "we're going to be where adults go to drink. We're not a frat-house drinking-binge place. You can quote me on that." The interior is certainly not a place you'd want to trash. Rita St. Clair, whose work is familiar to Kali regulars, chose repurposed sail cloth in nautical blues and yellows for the banquets, reclaimed wood floors and paneling reminiscent of a sailboat interior, and pieces of rigging and sailing paraphernalia to decorate the walls. The carpentry was designed by Brian Thim, who works with St. Clair and has also jumped in on the renovation of nearby Meli. "The guys that did the build-out on the Cup did a fantastic job," says Kali managing partner Darin Mislan. "We were already thinking about giving Meli a facelift, so decided to move them over there while they could get us on their schedule."
Hard work at Maggie's Farm
If the Maggie's Farm in Bob Dylan's 1965 protest song of the same name represents "the man," as Andrew Weinzirl believes, and if the song itself describes Dylan's break from the folk-protest movement, what does the name mean when applied to Weinzirl's most recent venture (4341 Harford Road,  254-2376, maggiesfarmmd.com)? For the new owner of the former Chameleon Cafe, the name reflects a break of sorts from his own ties to "the man"-in this case, gentle Jeff Smith, who has relinquished ownership of his pioneering spot in Lauraville to launch a new enterprise, Maryland Farm to Table, supplying fresh farm comestibles to local restaurants. It sounds a bit topsy-turvy, but all you really need to know is that Weinzirl, late of the Wine Market and a Smith protoge, has taken over the Chameleon, renaming it after the restive-and in this case, enigmatic-Dylan song. Weinzirl, along with business partners Laura Marino (his wife) and Matthew Weaver, is, after all, working at Maggie's Farm, and by all reports, working pretty hard. Take the new Monday night four-course suppers, in which Weinzirl and sous chef Sarah Acconcia go off-menu to present a prix-fixe feast to suit their whims. And Weaver's array of artisanal cocktails, many concocted from small-batch spirits. The biggest change may be that Maggie's Farm is embracing a trend that seems destined to become the norm: little bites, small plates, large plates. Mix and match, you're not stuck with a traditional outlay of courses. You're not tied down to the menu man.
The family cupcakes
Twenty-four-year-old Jason Hisley may have learned to bake from his late Czech grandmother, but it's his mother who's had the greatest influence on the Johnson and Wales grad and Cupcake Wars victor. Hisley runs every recipe for his Towson bakery, La Cakerie (49 West Chesapeake Ave., Towson,  275-4050, lacakerie.com), past his mom, a research scientist for the Army. Whether her vocation of designing and testing tanks and artillery has any direct bearing on the killer pies and pastries created by her son is unclear, but her courage, says Hisley, was inspiring. "When she grew up, she had a lot of opposition" in her chosen field, he says. "It was hard for her as a woman." Hisley, who opened his shop Nov. 3, has plenty of sweets ready for the holidays, including classic pies like pumpkin and apple, a line of hand-dipped chocolates, and his aunt's special cheesecake, made from a secret recipe. And, of course, there are cupcakes. We asked the baker if he has a preferred technique for eating a cupcake (lately we've seen cupcake aficionados daintily slice off the top and invert it-like a frosting sandwich). "There's no clean way around eating a cupcake," he insists. "You just shove it in your face and go at it."