Out of the Park
Early reports are that The Yard at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards has undergone a major league transformation and is making every effort to pull itself out of the minors. Chef Bill Downes moved from the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in D.C. to take over the food at the Marriott and aims to give the dining room some local flavor. The renovated industrial-themed interior features murals of local scenes like the Hippodrome and the Domino Sugars sign, and brick walls mimic the look of Camden Yards. The chef is also sourcing locally as much as he can, ordering up produce from One Straw Farm, Roseda beef, and True Blue Maryland crab. Sure, it's a hotel, and the big Sysco truck pulls up on a regular basis, but The Yard is making every effort to pull off a down-home mien. In fact, Downes may have created a new Baltimore classic: the Yard Dog, a quarter-pound bacon-wrapped hot dog, deep-fried and slathered in fennel relish and brown-sugar Dijon.
Oh happy day: Friends and Farms, the Columbia-based food-delivery outfit, has opened two new pickup locations in Baltimore. Full disclosure: I've been tripping up to Timonium every week to pick up my "basket"-three reusable bags filled with an assortment of meats, eggs, veggies, and bread from local farms and other purveyors-once a week for the past couple of months. I'm thrilled by the new location at Gilman School, just a few blocks from home. The company, in operation for about a year, will also be distributing goods downtown, at Stratford University, a spot it launched on Friday in conjunction with the food-truck event, the Gathering. Founded by Philip Gottwals and Tim Hosking, Friends and Farms is a direct link between consumers and local growers, offering subscriptions to weekly food deliveries in three sizes: single, small, and large, with vegetarian options. Last week, we got tilefish, beef, strawberries, rhubarb, heavy cream (pie, anyone?), the usual loaf of bread, and more. Customers can add on to their basket from "The Market," where other items like Zeke's coffee, apple cider, and butternut-squash seed oil are for sale. The crew puts a lot of effort into keeping costs down, and prices, says Hosking, "are more Giant than Whole Foods." For information, visit friendsandfarms.com.
The paper-swathed windows at the Chesapeake Restaurant on the corner of Charles and Lanvale promise an imminent opening, and we're liking what we hear so far. The wildly anticipated restaurant from the folks behind Milk & Honey (in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, as well as in Philadelphia) is slated to open in mid-June, says co-owner Dana Valery. Chef Jordan Miller, from a Philly Milk & Honey, will be "playing off what's available in the area," says Valery, with a seasonal menu of small and large plates, including vegan and raw offerings. Drinks will include craft cocktails and a selection of Union beers. The restrained decor features caramel leather banquettes, subway tile behind the long marble bar, and iron chandeliers.
Spike Gjerde, of the Woodberry Kitchen empire, is now expanding even further. As The Sun reported on Monday, Gjerde is moving Woodberry's canning operations and a small diner into the space that was formerly Crush in Belvedere Square.
Howard's to be Tavern
The restaurant that was formerly Howard's of Mount Vernon (2012's "Best Bar for Smokers") plans to reopen this spring as Tavern on the Hill. Look for more details soon.
We can't confirm yet that M&J's Soul Food is gone for good, but the phone is disconnected, and the restaurant has not been open in some time.