Heavy Seas Alehouse

One of the dining areas at the Heavy Seas Alehouse at 1300 Bank St. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / February 10, 2012)

Heavy Seas Alehouse is scheduled to open officially on Wednesday, taking over the Tack Factory space formerly occupied by Tsunami and Diablita. The key word is "officially." The new restaurant, the first to carry the name of the popular Baltimore-based beer brand, opened its doors quietly on Feb. 7, a week ahead of its announced opening.

But word got out. A day after its stealth opening, the restaurant was nicely filled. The bar was fully occupied, as were many of the bar area's tables, which include two long, community-style high tables. A preliminary version of the first menu from executive chef Matt Seeber was up and running. The one-sheeter pushes off with raw bar and chilled seafood selections before sailing into a couple dozen appetizers, entrees and sides.

A heady lineup of Heavy Seas beers were on draft, and the bartenders, in their Oxford shirts and blue aprons, were promoting the Black Cannon IPA and the Below Decks Barrel Aged Barleywine, which were being dispensed from casks, the way "real-ale" fanatics like it.

Seeber, whose most recent job was at Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak restaurant at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is using various Heavy Seas brews in his broths, batters and glazes, and the menu recommends beer pairings for the entrees.

Among the appetizers are things like marinated lobster salad with ginger lime vinaigrette ($17), fried artichokes with basil pesto ($6.50) and braised bacon with house-smoked tomato and maple glaze, which is served with a piece of crab toast ($12).

The half-dozen entrees include mussels and fries with a Gold Ale broth ($9 or $16), a grilled hanger steak with celery root puree, shiitake mushrooms and smoked bacon ($26), and a 24-hour beef short rib with a glaze made from Heavy Seas' Peg Leg imperial stout ($24).

The most alluring menu item of all — onion rings with a whole-grain mustard and Loose Cannon batter ($5.50).

Heavy Seas is at 1300 Bank St. (at the corner of Central Avenue and Bank). Technically, this is Little Italy, but most people think of as part of the Harbor East development. For more information, call 410-522-0850 or go to heavyseasalehouse.com.

It's bully A 250-seat American bistro named Kettle Hill will open in the old Babalu space in Power Plant Live. Former Oriole Rick Dempsey is a partner in the project, but the principals are Baltimore newcomers Desmond Reilly and Kristopher Karr. Dempsey will serve largely in an "ambassadorial role."

The name Kettle Hill should resonate with scholars of the Spanish-American War — Kettle Hill was captured by Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, along with the better-known San Juan Hill, in a decisive battle on July 1, 1898. For Reilly and Karr, who had been working on a restaurant concept that would evoke the robust America of the early 1900s, it was only a matter of time before they bumped into Mr. Robust himself.

"Roosevelt is an underlying theme of the whole design," Reilly said. Kettle Hill will be robust and rugged, through and through, the partners said, from the decor, which is being guided by designer Brian Swanson, to the menu of "regional American grill fare, based around hearty robust flavors." Joining the adventure is Sarah Acconcia, recently of 13.5% Wine Bar in Hampden, who has been named Kettle Hill's executive chef.

Kettle Hill is moving toward an April opening date,

To Market Chad Gauss has left the City Cafe. His last night as the Mount Vernon restaurant's executive chef was Feb. 5.

Gauss will be opening his own restaurant in the old Hampden Food Market. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant, to be named the Food Market, will include seating for 90 in the dining room, a 12-seat bar and an open kitchen whose focus, Gauss said, will be "basically blue-collar food in a white-collar execution."

Gauss' partner in the Food Market is Elan Kotz, a familiar front-of-house presence at Aldo's in Little Italy. Gauss will be the Food Market's executive chef and Kotz its general manager. Gauss said he hopes to have the Food Market, which is now in "deep construction,"  open by the third week of April.

No word yet about City Cafe's post-Gauss plans.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com


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