It will be a hectic fall for Baltimore diners. But nothing compared to next spring, when projects from Bryan Voltaggio, Spike Gjerde and Foreman/Wolf are expected to open, or at least break ground. The closely watched Chesapeake Restaurant project appears to be gathering momentum, too, following the departure earlier this year of Qayum Karzai.
This fall, most of the corks will be popping in and around the Inner Harbor. Ten Ten, the new project from the Bagby Group, is scheduled to open in late October, and later this fall, the first restaurants in the new Four Seasons Hotel will open. High hopes are attached to both projects.
Adjacent to the Bagby Pizza Company, Ten Ten is the first of two restaurants promised from David Smith's Bagby Group. Christopher Becker, formerly of the Wine Market, and Mark Davis have been announced as co-executive chefs for Ten Ten and Fleet Street Kitchen, the farm-to-table restaurant opening next year.
The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore will open with two of its three restaurants in place. All of them are being overseen by the San Francisco-based chef Michael Mina, whose self-named restaurant is based in San Francisco. The hotel's anchor restaurant, Wit & Wisdom, "will offer a modern American tavern menu of comfort food classics with Eastern seaboard influences." A European cafe is collaboration between Mina Group Inc. and the Los Angeles-based Lamill Coffee. Pabu, a fine-dining Japanese restaurant will open in the spring of 2012.
After 31 years at Harborplace, Phillips will serve its last crab cake at in the Light Street Pavilion on Sept. 18. Phillips will reopen about eight weeks later in the Power Plant, just a few piers to the east. The new Phillips will have something the old one never did: an outdoor crab deck. A May opening date has been announced for Phillips' replacement at Harborplace, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
The days are literally numbered for another iconic Baltimore seafood restaurant. A countdown clock on Obrycki's website is ticking off the days and hours until Nov. 5, when the Pratt Street crab house closes for good. An Obyricki's is part of the Cordish Co.'s planned casino project at Arundel Mills.
Events and promotions A gala dinner is being held Saturday on the Little Italy campus of Baltimore International College to benefit chef Michael Wagner and his family. For information about this fundraiser for cancer research, call 410-752-4710
The annual Dining out for Life to benefit Moveable Feast is Sept. 22. For a list of participating restaurants, go to diningoutforlife.com/baltimore.
The Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food will host its second edition of the Farmer & the Chef, a cooking competition pairing Baltimore chefs with local farmers, on Sept. 26 at the Maryland Science Center. The event is a fundraiser for Days of Taste.
For one week in October, participating restaurants from Philadelphia to Northern Virginia will be featuring fresh, locally caught Maryland seafood on their menus in an innovative program developed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. From the Bay, For the Bay, Oct. 2-9, will benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership (dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fromthebay/).
All in the timing A few restaurants opened too early to be previewed in this article. S&J Crab Ranch opened on Sept. 9 in Towson. The locally owned, family-friendly restaurant serves ribs, "Southern classics" and Maryland seafood, including steamed crabs. (2 W. Pennsylvania Ave., 410-821-6789, sjcrabranch.com). The Corner Bistro & Wine Bar opened in Ridgely's Delight during the Grand Prix weekend. The owner and chef is Wesley Vaughn, who worked for many years at Ruth's Chris. The bistro's general manager is his brother, Derrick Vaughn, who worked with Riccardo Bosio at Sotto Sopra. The opening menu at the Corner includes soups, salads, burgers and sandwiches on ciabatta (213 W. Penn St., 410-727-1155, cbwinebar.com).
And the Valley Inn, a Baltimore County dining institution, has quietly closed after almost 80 years. The owners of the Oregon Grille have made no public comment about their plans for the property.