Two coffee shops, Three chefs

Two coffee shops It may seem that Mount Vernon is becoming a bottomless urn of coffee these days. One recent entry, TriBeCa, audaciously opened across the street from Starbucks, with hopes of luring java geeks from University of Baltimore and MICA with hand-sorted beans, roasted on-site in a precision Diedrich coffee roaster. TriBeCa also gets already-roasted stuff from PT's Coffee, a direct-trade outfit in Topeka, Kan. TriBeCa brews are prepared with the pour-over Chemex, Aeropress, and the espresso machine. Currently, the only food on offer is from Bonaparte Bakery, but owner James Jeon says the carbo-load will soon include bagels and panini. As for the name-derived from Manhattan's Triangle Below Canal-it has no special significance. "My wife picked it out," Jeon says. "She likes the area in New York City." (TriBeCa Coffee Roaster, 1210 N. Charles St., [443] 869-4279)

The master plan behind Dooby's Coffee is boundless, thanks to owner Phil Han's graduated approach. The coffee shop, currently at 4 W. Madison St. (formerly the Rug Shop), will move around the corner to 802 N. Charles St. (once Indigma restaurant) in July, turning the Madison space into an incubator for small businesses, called the Hatch. In other words, Dooby's will inaugurate the Hatch with an atmospheric coffee bar before moving into permanent digs, where it will expand to serve a boutique-y list of wines, craft beer, and a menu of snacks. In the meantime, the Hatch will be available for pop-up shops and restaurants, exhibits, and special events. Han originally tested his coffee-shop idea with a coffee bar at his family's church in Hanover, Md. "We served brewed iced coffee that had steeped for 12 hours," he says. "It was a huge step" to convince members of the congregation to spend $3 for a cup of specialty coffee. Especially, he adds, when an entire lunch in the church basement went for the same price. Nevertheless, the coffee stand raised money for missions, and he won over his audience. "Some were like, 'This is the best coffee I've ever had,'" Han says. (Dooby's Coffee, 4 W. Madison St., later 804 N. Charles St., [410] 644-5500)

Three chefs Fleet Street Kitchen's new chef, Chris Amendola, brings an awesome foodie cred on his resume: His most recent job was working in the kitchen at Blue Hill Farm at Stone Barns in upstate New York. One of the frontrunners in the farm-to-fork, toe-to-tail movement, Blue Hill is also the home of the educational center founded by chef Dan Barber, whom chef Amendola assisted in butchering one of Blue Hill's famous "happy pigs." Chef Chris Becker, who opened Fleet Street Kitchen, will step back into his corporate role as the Bagby Restaurant Group prepares to open its newest spot, Cunningham's in Towson. Amendola found the job listing through industry contacts when planning to relocate east, and he was "stoked [Fleet Street has] their own farm," owner David Smith's Cunningham Manor in Cockeysville. Changes to the menu will be measured, Amendola says, like utilizing fresh, seasonal ingredients such as ramps and fiddleheads.

George Allen, the new chef at b Bistro in Bolton Hill, is a big rabbit fan. The former sous chef at Crush who has also worked at Sabor in May's Chapel and Kincaid's in D.C. otherwise plans to keep up the farm-to-table charm that keeps b on the short list of local-restaurant cognoscenti. Allen comes in on the heels of Chris Clune, who helmed the kitchen for just six months, after Jamie Forsythe left to become farm manager of Fig Leaf Farm, the Howard County farm, which was formerly leased by the owners of b. The first big event on Allen's plate? A 10th-anniversary party for the restaurant, planned for May 19.

B&O Brasserie's departing chef Thomas Dunklin is doing what he's done more than once in his career: leaving to work at yet another Kimpton restaurant. He's passing the toque to chef de cuisine Brad Willits. No news yet on what this shift will mean, but we're guessing a departure from the meat-heavy fare Dunklin preferred. Willits, a Florida native, has already introduced a spring menu featuring crispy rockfish, and cavatelli with shrimp, clams, and baby artichokes. Tuesdays at B&O, Veuve Cliquot Champagne is $5 a glass beginning at 5 p.m. (and $6 at 6 p.m.; $7 at 7 p.m. . . . the specials are over by 8 p.m.). In the meantime, oysters are a buck the whole time.

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