Advertisement
Food & Drink

Bits & Bites: New Baltimore-area marina restaurants aim for more than a summer crush, Locust Point burger joint throws it back to 1970s

The seasons are changing — in case the chilly temperatures and overcast skies of the past week weren’t a stark enough reminder.

With highs in the 50s and 60s and rainfall by the bucket, it hardly feels like the time of year for sitting by the water. But the owners of two new Baltimore-area marina restaurants would beg to differ.

Advertisement

“We’re really pushing the envelope, trying to provide a casual but elevated dining experience on the water,” says Jake Kahan, an owner of Sam & Maggie’s Dockside Grill, the family-run restaurant at a boatyard-turned-marina in Pasadena. “I feel like our draw is, and should be, more than sitting on the water and drinking an orange crush.”

This week’s column takes a look at his family’s restaurant as well as Charly’s, a new spot in Baltimore County that also wants to be known as a dining destination rather than simply a marina amenity.

Advertisement

And for those who prefer burgers to seafood, I have an update on the latest project from a local restaurateur in Locust Point.

On the water, but not a tiki bar

Charly's, a new restaurant at the Baltimore Boating Center in Middle River, opened quietly in late September. Though it's on the water, "this is a year-round restaurant," says owner Ryan Perlberg.

Ryan Perlberg started his search for a spot on the water more than two years ago.

Initially, he and business partners planned to buy a building in Canton. But the COVID-19 pandemic and licensing hurdles convinced them to start looking in Baltimore County instead, where they stumbled upon the Baltimore Boating Center, a 70-slip marina in Middle River.

Perlberg, who owns Baltimore spots like Stuggy’s and Rye, set his sights on transforming the boating center’s marine store into a restaurant. Charly’s opened quietly in late September, and has a grand opening scheduled for Oct. 21.

The new restaurant places an emphasis on fresh seafood, offering a raw bar as well as dishes like steamed mussels, lobster rolls and warm cioppino, an Italian fish stew. For the land lubbers, there are Korean barbecue short-rib sandwiches, vegetable curry bowls and deep dish pizzas big enough for two.

The cocktail list goes beyond the classic orange crush — try the restaurant’s elderflower crush instead. Perez Klebahn, Perlberg’s partner at Rye and the beverage director there, had a hand in crafting the bar program at Charly’s, where you can find trendy drinks like espresso martinis, as well as tropical offerings like fruity Painkiller cocktails and Dirty Bananas, a blend of banana, coffee and rum.

Diners can pull up to the dock for food to go, or rent a pontoon boat stocked with rosé, shrimp salad and other snacks catered by Charly’s. Or you can eat in: the restaurant, which is open to the public, has 50 outdoor seats overlooking Sue Creek, but there are 130 seats inside, too, for dining during the colder months.

“We are not chasing the whole tiki bar thing whatsoever,” Perlberg says. “This is a year-round restaurant.”

Advertisement

Still, he’s already thinking about plans for next spring. In the coming months, Charly’s will add games like tetherball and corn hole to a courtyard area connected to the restaurant’s deck.

More than a summer spot

The menu at Sam & Maggie's Dockside Grill runs the gamut of classics like crab cakes to dishes infused with Caribbean and Latin flavors, such as the sofrito braised pork, pictured here.

In Pasadena, Sam & Maggie’s Dockside Grill is a lifelong dream come true for owner Marc Kahan.

Kahan had aspirations of attending the Culinary Institute of America in the 1970s, but life took him down a different path. In 1994, he purchased an unimproved, 1930s-era boatyard on the banks of the Patapsco River and transformed it into Fairview Marina, a 130-slip facility offering covered piers, boat repairs and now, a full-service restaurant open to the general public.

Plans for the dining spot have been in the works for years, says Marc’s son, Jake Kahan. The stars finally aligned this summer for Sam & Maggie’s, which opened Memorial Day weekend.

The restaurant, named for two departed Kahan family pets — Sam, an English bull terrier, and Maggie, an English bulldog — showcases the culinary skills of both father and son.

Marc Kahan focuses on the classics, such as crab cakes and beef tenderloin with roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and asparagus, while Jake Kahan infuses the menu with Latin and Caribbean flavors through dishes like grilled ancho chicken, sofrito braised pork tacos and an Island Burger topped with pineapple, pickled onions, avocado cream and a lemon-chipotle aioli.

Advertisement

A standout of the 50-seat restaurant’s concise menu is the shrimp polenta, a serving of Colossal Gulf shrimp over Italian polenta cakes and a bright sauce made of sweet corn, blistered cherry tomatoes, shrimp stock, Chardonnay and heavy cream.

The rest of the family helps to run the restaurant, too: Jake Kahan’s wife and his mother run the front of house for Sam & Maggie’s, while his children lend a hand washing dishes and doing food prep. His 12-year-old son even hopped on the line during a particularly busy night, pan-searing halibut and assembling plates of the shrimp polenta.

“It’s just been a passion project from the beginning,” says Jake Kahan. “There’s always been an obsession with food in our family.”

Like Charly’s, the Kahans want their restaurant to be viewed as more than a summer spot. This week, Sam & Maggie’s will roll out its fall menu, offering dishes like smoked short rib with a curry braise and seasonal cocktails like the Apple Pie, a spirit-forward combination of bourbon, ginger cinnamon syrup, apple cider and clove.

“We’re off the beaten path — people need to know that there’s something worth coming all the way out here for,” says Jake Kahan. “I think the food we’re doing is worth it.”

Burgers with a retro flair at Fat Patties

New Locust Point burger joint Fat Patties serves up a menu of smashburgers, fries and milkshakes (boozy and non-alcoholic). The fries are cooked in 100% beef fat, inspired by an old McDonald's recipe.
Dish Baltimore

Dish Baltimore

Weekly

Get the scoop on that new restaurant, learn about chef changes and discover your favorite new recipe. All your Baltimore food news is here.

Baltimore’s newest burger spot throws it back to the 1970s with an arcade, retro décor and French fries inspired by a classic McDonald’s recipe.

Advertisement

“The Smashburger was invented in the 1970s, so we really took that and made the vibe a super funky ‘70s vibe,” says owner Kevin Curley of his newest restaurant, Fat Patties, which opened Oct. 3 in Locust Point.

Curley, the mind behind sandwich shop RegionAle and Federal Hill speak-easy The Wurst Bar, decided this next project would take a simple concept — burgers and fries — and “do it to perfection.”

Fat Patties serves up a straightforward menu of smashburgers, fries and milkshakes (boozy and non-alcoholic). But the fries have a twist: they’re fried in 100% beef fat, just like McDonald’s used to do.

The new restaurant takes advantage of a tap wall installed by World of Beer, which used to occupy this space at 1724 Whetstone Way. Fat Patties offers 30 beers on tap, as well as 10 draft cocktails, wine, kombucha and craft soda.

The burger joint is the first for what Curley and business partner Geo Concepcion hope will be a budding chain. Concepcion, the CEO of the Columbia-based sports bar and restaurant chain Greene Turtle, is an investor in Fat Patties through the Founder Growth Platform, a newly launched incubator for restaurant concepts.

“We started working with Kevin on RegionAle, and from my lens I want to be backing really, really talented entrepreneurs who can build brands to be scaled,” Concepcion said. “It’s the first of many to come.”


Advertisement