The past couple of years have seen a slew of new breweries start serving their suds in the city—Union, Full Tilt, Public Works—and starting this fall you’ll be able to add Monument City Brewing Company to that ever-expanding list. Based out of Peabody Heights Brewery, a location whose focus is on incubating new brewers without the capital to build their own, Monument City (one of the lesser-known nicknames of Baltimore) was started by brothers Matt and Ken Praay, who, after spending the last eight years honing their craft as home brewers, decided they had created beers good enough to live up to the city’s high expectations. As Ken explained to us, “people in this city don’t brag about stuff, they just produce good things. And we wanted to be a part of that community.” Their first beer, 51 Rye, is a 6.5-percent IPA made with 51 percent rye (an homage to the percentage of the spicy grain required to be considered rye whiskey), and is set to be released as early as Oct. 10—just in time for the start of Baltimore Beer Week.
Although the whole “months with R” rule doesn’t apply to oysters anymore, whenever the air gets crisp we can’t help but want to toss back even more than normal. Federal Hill’s Ryleigh’s Oyster has you covered. Its eighth annual OysterFest is set to go down from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11 and Sunday, Oct. 12, and will feature buck-a-shuck bivalves from 10+ raw bar stations lining Cross Street, live music, craft beer, a meet-and-greet with Maryland oyster farmers, and free admission. Of particular interest is Saturday’s Baltimore Oyster Shucking Championship, a competition that will see Maryland’s top shell-unhingers take the stage and go head-to-head for cash prizes and a coveted paid sponsorship to the national competition. If you want something a bit more upscale, Ryleigh’s Oyster Ball kick-off party takes place Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 7-10 p.m., where $70 gets you unlimited Moët champagne, fruit crushes, beer, wine, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and all-you-can-slurp oysters served from a 16-foot raw bar—swank. Tickets are available at missiontix.com and a portion of the proceeds from both events will go to the Living Classrooms Foundation and the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
Baltimore was lagging behind the ramen train for some time, but in the past year we now have Ten Ten Ramen, deliciously piping-hot bowls from Dooby’s, and soon Ejji Ramen in Belvedere Square Market. Oscar Lee and Jonathan Vong, owners of Chocolatea Café—a spot near Johns Hopkins Homewood campus with surprisingly good lunchtime noodle bowls—are joining up with Jonathan’s brother Ten Vong to open Ejji (Japanese for edgy). Construction is currently wrapping up in the space previously occupied by Ikan Sushi, where, once completed, they’ll be serving traditional Japanese-style ramen with a Malaysian spin. We talked with Ten, who told us they hope to have the noodle shop open by mid-to-late October, at which point they’ll be serving vegetarian miso and a tonkotsu (pork) broth that involves over 24 hours of simmering and prep before it’s ready to be ladled over the noodles, which will be sourced from the ever-popular Sun Noodles. In addition to traditional ramen, they’ll also be serving various types of Japanese sakes and beer along with yakitori, Malaysian satays, and carb-free and gluten-free ramen made with vegetable noodles—a novel concept not often seen in the “my way or the highway” ramen world.
Fork & Wrench, one of Baltimore’s perennially lauded restaurants, has lost its head chef. Cyrus Keefer, who came to the Canton restaurant from Birroteca in the spring of 2013, was quick to make his mark in the kitchen, with us saying at the time “the thoughtful and focused food Cyrus Keefer is serving has made Fork & Wrench one of the best restaurants in the city.” With all of the success he’s had there, we were surprised to hear he was moving on. We talked with Fork & Wrench general manager Ingrid French, who explained that he had the chance to follow his dream of opening his own place and he took it. Richard Gorelick at The Sun reported that Keefer’s new venture will be a casual Asian-inspired spot tentatively called Allbird, with backing from Andrew Dunlap and Sean White of Federal Hill’s Bandito’s—where, in the interim, Keefer will spend his time modifying the menu. Asked what Fork & Wrench’s plans are moving forward, French tells us they’re going to spend the time to find a chef that most closely meshes with the close-knit ethos they’ve created at the restaurant and hopefully will have a replacement within a month.