A first look at new Fells Point restaurant from Fork & Wrench owners

Modern Cook Shop, the restaurant and market from the Fork & Wrench owners, is close to opening.

When Modern Cook Shop opens in Fells Point, you could conceivably walk in a dozen times and never have the same experience. Whether you're grabbing a morning coffee and newspaper, taking a charcuterie plate to go, staying for a a dine-in meal, picking up sugar and butter, or purchasing ingredients to make a menu item at home, the new restaurant and market in the Union Wharf building will have it all.

Modern Cook Shop, the hotly anticipated restaurant and market from the pair that brought Fork & Wrench to Baltimore, is nearing its debut in Fells Point, and it's about as versatile as the city's dining establishments come.

The restaurant-bar-marketplace is situated on the first floor of the Union Wharf apartments at the corner of Wolfe and Thames streets. Owners Andy Gruver and Jason Sanchez, the duo behind Fork & Wrench in Canton, have been working on the space for two years. As with their Boston Street restaurant, every detail in Modern Cook Shop is hand-crafted — from the chairs and tables to the cedar-plank ceilings.

The space at 901 S. Wolfe St. is arranged as a seamless maze of shelves and seating interspersed with four bars — one each for baked goods and coffee, hot dishes, charcuterie, and drinks.

Upon entering, guests will peer through a glass window to the charcuterie bar, with a checkout counter and hostess stand to the left. A refrigerated area and the bakery counter is beyond that, where guests will also be able to pick up newspapers from around the world to peruse while sipping their drinks.

The hot bar sits past the bakery portion on the left side of the restuarant, with the main seating area in the center.

"There's no bad seat really," Gruver said. 

A wet bar in the back of the restaurant has 10 taps — two for barrel-aged cocktails, eight for craft beer. And a path lined by more shelves leads back to the charcuterie bar at the front.

Gruver said they're still pinning down the theme of the cuisine, though chef Brian Lavin said to expect plenty of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, with a focus on vegetables. The menu will change seasonally, phasing dishes in and out based on customer demand and available ingredients.

All of the ingredients for the menu items will be prepackaged for customers to purchase from the market and cook at home, too. 

The market will carry plenty of food staples with price points similar to Whole Foods. Eventually, Gruver hopes to offer homemade dairy products like butter and yogurt.

The owners are aiming to be open by Christmas but have not yet set a date. By this time next year, Gruver hopes Modern Cook Shop has become a go-to bodega for nearby residents.

And if the restaurant-market combination wasn't enough to make Modern Cook Shop stand out, it plans to add another unique element: room service. 

Residents of the Union Wharf apartments above will be able to order dishes delivered to their door — "the whole hotel experience at home," Gruver said.

He also floated the idea of creating a community supported agriculture (CSA) group for residents, with food delivery once a week.

And because its liquor license covers the entire first floor of the apartment complex, Modern Cook Shop will be able to cater parties within the building.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the 4,500-square-foot restaurant will heave seating for about 125, with additional tables outside.

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