Suspended brewing; Mera Cooking Collective; Restaurant G&A

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ALCOHOL BULLETIN

Suspended Brewing’s Josey Schwartz awarded StarChefs Rising Star: Suspended Brewing Co., known for its sustainability and community focus, has had a lot to celebrate lately. Pigtown Brewery just celebrated its fourth anniversary, and co-owner and brewer Josey Schwartz won the StarChefs Rising Star award for top brewer earlier this month. StarChefs has recognized promising industry professionals in four markets each year since 2003, with one of the areas this year being the DC-Chesapeake region. “It’s a dream to be included in this class of very talented people,” Schwartz tells us, adding that it’s “almost certain” that his nomination for the honor comes from his friend and co-owner of Ekiben, Steve. Chu.

As part of Rising Stars Restaurant Week, which now runs through March 29, Suspended Brewing customers who order its star drink (Leda of Peaches, Suspended’s flagship lambic-inspired sour beer fermented with peaches from Maryland) and share an Instagram post of the sip (tagging @StarChefs and using #StarChefsRisingStars) will be entered to win a suspended $100 gift card. “Being able to achieve notoriety like this helps support the mission, and that’s the most important thing,” says Schwartz.

Baltimore Spirits Co. will present the 10K award to MICA students: Here is exciting news for MICA MA or MFA graduate students. Hampden Distillery Baltimore Spirits Co.– which recently launched its new quasi-bar and art gallery within the Union Collective – has launched a $10,000 prize to be given annually to a college student who “shows exceptional promise in painting, sculpture, film, video, mixed media or performance art.” As part of the program, BSC will release a new whisky, in its new “Artist Series”, each year the award is presented, with proceeds funding the prize money. The first edition will be a two-year-old cask-aged single malt rye, available for purchase from the BSC Cocktail Gallery. MICA Class of 2022 is eligible for apply now until April 18. Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement and portfolio of their work. The winner will be announced on June 1.

“We consider ourselves artists as much as anything else, and we’ve been blessed with success in following our creative passions,” BSC co-founder and CEO Max Lents said in a press release. “It has always been clear to us that the soul and spirit of Baltimore are inseparable from its artistic youth. We believe there is no better way to invest in the future of our city than to empower young artists in our community.

OPEN (IN NEWS DIGS)

Restaurant G&A: This iconic Baltimore purveyor of Coney Island hot dogs, which has been around Highlandtown for over 90 years, has finally settled into its new home. The G&A restaurant kicked off its new digs earlier this month in the Honeygo Square mall on Philadelphia Road in Perry Hall, near White Marsh. In our September 2021 issue, G&A owner Andrew “Andy” Farantos, a third-generation owner who started working at G&A as a kid, told us it wasn’t an easy decision for him and his wife, Alexia, to move the business. Ultimately, they decided to reach out to G&A’s large customer base in Baltimore County. “We’re going to do what we’ve been doing for over 90 years and do it there,” Farantos said. (Read our full profile on G&A here, detailing some of his final days in Highlandtown.)

The new location serves the famous loaded hot dogs, as well as burgers and all-day breakfast favorites. A neon sign displays the message “With love from Baltimore” surrounded by old photos commemorating G&A’s history. During its grand opening last week, the onslaught of customers forced the restaurant to sell many items and close early. “Turnout has been overwhelming in the best way,” the owners wrote on Facebook on March 10. The new restaurant hours are Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Mera Cooking Collective: After years of sharing kitchens with other local establishments, this globally inspired work and dining co-op is ready to officially celebrate the opening of its first physical location. Mera Kitchen Collective will hold a grand opening this Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. His space in Mount Vernon at 1301 N. Calvert St., which opened in November 2021, offers plenty of seating, including a lovely communal table in the center of the space. Delicious dishes available to eat in or take out include carne asada fries, lentil soup, falafel sandwiches, rotating desserts and specialties like a whole roast chicken dinner. “This space is an opportunity for our cooks and chefs to fully express themselves, reinvent their food, collaborate with each other, and most importantly, take the Baltimore community on a culinary adventure around the world,” wrote the collective on it’s GoFundMe.

COMING SOON

Hominy Kitchen and Kokee Tea Set join new Lexington Market: Since beginning its staggered rollout of vendor announcements last May, Lexington Market has chosen more than 25 new retailers to move into the new building when it debuts later this year. The latest to join the lineup include Lexington’s current stand Hominy Kitchen and local bubble tea company Kokee Tea. Owned by Deshaun and Najla Scott, Hominy Kitchen will transfer its fried catfish, stewed greens, seafood salad and bread pudding to the new market.

“Our food is made from scratch every day – these are the comforting Southern classics that people always come back for,” Deshaun said in a statement, adding his personal connection to the space. “Lexington Market is very symbolic for me; my grandfather used to bring me here before Orioles games and now I feel like part of the future of the market.

Father-son team James and David Park will debut their second Kokee Tea location – the flagship is at Annapolis Mall – in the new market, featuring a wide range of bubble teas blended with milk, juices, jellies and tapioca pearls. James Park, who also owns Cheap Outlet in the current Lexington building, is certainly no stranger to the market vibe. He looks forward to joining familiar faces and new business owners in the new space. “The whole family runs Kokee Tea,” he said in a statement. “We are excited to have new customers trying bubble tea at our second location.”

The urban oyster: More seafood heads to The Avenue in Hampden. the Baltimore Business Journal reports that The Urban Oyster plans to open a brick-and-mortar store on W. 36th Street this summer. The mobile restaurant run by Chef Jasmine Norton, who has hosted frequent pop-ups at the Baltimore Farmers Market and Hyatt Baltimore Inner Harbor in the past, is known for its raw and grilled oysters, seafood sandwiches and other ocean offerings. The Urban Oyster previously had a storefront in Locust Point, but was forced to close due to pandemic challenges. Norton told the BBJ that at the new location, she plans to bring back her fan-favorite oysters and seafood tacos, as well as adding things like steamed crabs.

“We are excited to be able to complete our operation as we return to a physical location,” she told BBJ. “It’s always been my aspiration to have a restaurant serving all the good food and good vibes, and also as a way for me to share my love of oysters with the Baltimore community.”

INSIDER TIP

A seat at the Foraged chef’s table: If you haven’t yet visited the locavore restaurant of chef Chris Amendola, who recently moved to Station North, now might be the time. On weeknights, the restaurant now offers diners the opportunity to sit at the chef’s table and enjoy a spontaneous seven-course tasting menu based on what is “freshest and most delicious” from the day. Plus, if you fancy the add-on (which is definitely worth it), Beverage Manager Reed Cahill will serve you and talk you through each drink. We visited in early March for the experience and, while we didn’t spoil all the surprises, highlights included a dish of pork jowls with perfectly creamy polenta and a truly exceptional homemade milk punch which was paired with a dessert. Although the special menu is a splurge, it’s an immersive crash course in what Amendola and his team do. Reserve it while you can.

Sarah Kloepple is a professional magazine writer and editor working in Baltimore. She enjoys covering food and drink and the hospitality industry in general. She graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism. You can find his signatures in Meetings today, Magazine Saint Louis, party review, and Popular mechanics.


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