xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Bits & Bites: Helmand chef heads to Hampden; holiday happenings in Baltimore; new brews in Woodberry, Pigtown and more

After last year’s COVID-19 winter, this year’s holiday season is shaping up to look almost like something from the Before Times. The Inner Harbor’s Christmas Village is returning. New businesses are opening, including one from the longtime Helmand chef. Pretty much everyone is facing delays of some sort, whether it’s equipment, permitting or deliveries. If there is one superpower we all get from the pandemic it may be a little bit of patience.

Assad Akbari, former general manager and head chef at The Helmand restaurant in Mt. Vernon, will open Kandahar Afghan Kitchen in Hampden next year.
Assad Akbari, former general manager and head chef at The Helmand restaurant in Mt. Vernon, will open Kandahar Afghan Kitchen in Hampden next year. (Christina Tkacik)

Longtime Helmand chef to launch on the Avenue

Baltimore foodies will remember Assad Akbari from his time as general manager and head chef at The Helmand restaurant in Mt. Vernon. Akbari got his start with the restaurant in 1986 at its original location in Chicago. He and his brother, a server, were laid off during the pandemic. After that, Akbari decided: “You know what, I should open up my own space,” he said. “I want to have something for myself.”

Advertisement

After looking around at properties in Towson and elsewhere, Akbari landed on a storefront at 914 W. 36th for his restaurant, Kandahar Afghan Kitchen. “Hampden was a place I really loved,” he said. When it opens — sometime around January, barring permitting delays — Akbari says diners can expect a full menu of traditional Afghan staples — yes, there will be kaddo bowrani, the beloved baked pumpkin dish he helped popularize at the Helmand. The 36-seat restaurant will be BYOB with no corking fee. His brother, Sadiq Akbari, will be the restaurant’s manager.

From left, Kurt Bonk, of Philadelphia, a consultant, watches as Thomas Bauer, of Lake Constance, Germany, president of German American Marketing, Inc., and Matthew Best, of NE Baltimore, attach light bulbs to the wings of the top level of the Christmas Pyramid they are assembling at the Inner Harbor.
From left, Kurt Bonk, of Philadelphia, a consultant, watches as Thomas Bauer, of Lake Constance, Germany, president of German American Marketing, Inc., and Matthew Best, of NE Baltimore, attach light bulbs to the wings of the top level of the Christmas Pyramid they are assembling at the Inner Harbor. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)

German Christmas Village opens Nov. 20

After a break last year during the pandemic, the German Christmas Village is coming back to 501 Light Street. Here’s your chance to sip mulled wine, eat raclette and shop for German-made Christmas gifts on the Inner Harbor. The event launches with a preview weekend Nov. 20 and 21. Daily operations begin Thanksgiving Day and run through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Thanksgiving sweets to please everyone

Baltimore bakers are pre-heating their ovens and opening online ordering systems for the coming holiday. Try Codetta Bake Shop’s pumpkin pecan cheesecake, the ultimate fall indulgence, or Bramble Baking Co.’s chocolate bonbons — “mini works of art.”

Candy Lane at Center Plaza

Baltimore’s Downtown Partnership is bringing some holiday sparkle to the Center Plaza at 100 N. Charles Street. Beginning Nov. 20 through Dec. 23 stop by “candy themed experience” from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Downtown Partnership’s Michael Evitts described it as the scene in “Elf” where Buddy leaves the North Pole and encounters a field of giant candy canes. Bring your pandemic pooch for an epic holiday selfie.

New brews for Baltimore, eventually

There are two breweries coming soon to Baltimore: one in Woodberry and another in Pigtown.

Pickett Brewing is slated to open at 1130 S. Paca Street in Pigtown, though it’s not clear when. In a blog post last month, owners wrote that the opening date is “the big question” in light of supply chain issues. “Our win last week was learning that our equipment is ‘on the water’. While it was supposed to have already been delivered in July, if it’s on a ship instead of the other side of the world we’ll take it.”

Advertisement

Meanwhile, those ever-present supply chain disruptions have come for Pariah Brewing Co., which is headed to the former Union Brewery space at 1700 Union Ave. “We ran into a few COVID related logistical, administrative and supply chain delays this summer and fall, but are moving quickly now!” co-owner Christa Mitchell wrote in an email. She hopes to have the business open by the end of the year. Barring delays, of course.

Andy Farantos, owner of G&A Restaurant, balances six Coney Island hot dogs on his arm as he fills a carryout order. After 94 years in Baltimore, G&A Restaurant is closing up and relocating to White Marsh.
Andy Farantos, owner of G&A Restaurant, balances six Coney Island hot dogs on his arm as he fills a carryout order. After 94 years in Baltimore, G&A Restaurant is closing up and relocating to White Marsh. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)

G&A Restaurant eyes November opening

Coney Island hot dog fans want to know one thing about G&A Restaurant’s new location in White Marsh: When will it open?

In a story this summer I reported that owner Andy Farantos was looking to open in September. This, after shutting down the restaurant’s Highlandtown location it called home for nearly a century. Restaurant openings are a moving target even under the best of circumstances, but COVID-19 has made that problem even worse. Farantos has confronted delays on items like chairs and glass doors for the patio entrance. “It’s all on backorder,” said Farantos. “It’s kind of a waiting game.”

G&A Restaurant is now planning on launching at the end of November.

Meanwhile, Cocina de la Abuelita is headed to the former G&A space on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown, according to an application submitted to the liquor board. New York City native Alda Garcia is the owner; he did not return a call for comment.

Maisy's shut down in 2020. A new concept called Good Food is set to open in its place.
Maisy's shut down in 2020. A new concept called Good Food is set to open in its place. (Sun photo by Erik Maza)

Is a new restaurant coming to former Maisy’s?

There are plans afoot for the former Maisy’s space at 313 N. Charles St. according to an application submitted to the city’s liquor board. A new concept called Good Food will head to the downtown storefront, which has been vacant since Maisy’s closed in 2020. According to the application, restaurateur Bryson Keens, who previously owned Points South Latin Kitchen in Fells Point, will be the manager.

Baltimore’s Tower Hill Development said it is hoping Maryland will help finance the project. Principal Chris Regan said in an email that the timeline is contingent on getting a Project Restore grant from the state, part of a $25 million fund to incentivize development of vacant buildings. Regan declined to comment further, saying: “Our plans are not clear so we don’t want anything in the public.”

Well, that’s awkward.

Have a local restaurant or dining tip? Email ctkacik@baltsun.com

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement