Baltimore lost some great restaurants during the pandemic. I personally have yet to mentally recover from the closure of the Mount Vernon Stable & Saloon on Charles Street. Where else could you find a soft-shell crab sandwich with two crabs for just $16? And don’t even get me started on their dynamite French onion dip.
But the shutdown of many longtime businesses during the pandemic has created opportunities for others. In the past few months, area restaurateurs are adding new locations to their portfolios with rapid-fire speed.
Just look at two of the business owners in this week’s column, Ashish Alfred of Duck Duck Goose and Binod “Milo” Uprety of Alonso’s, who are taking over shuttered Baltimore taverns and restaurants.
Spicing things up at Hamilton Tavern
Harford Road’s Hamilton Tavern may soon become Spice Bar.
Sushme Karkai is the new owner of the beloved neighborhood watering hole, which closed during the pandemic. The building is co-owned by Binod “Milo” Uprety, who also owns Namaste and Alonso’s on Cold Spring Lane as well as a new eatery in Fells Point. More on that later.
Karkai, who is originally from Pokhara, Nepal, says that taking over the Hamilton Tavern is her version of the American dream — owning and operating an American bar.
Uprety, who is involved in the restaurant, says the vibe will be “East meets West,” and the menu will combine American and Indian dishes. Those burgers that Hamilton Tavern was known for will stay on the menu, alongside momo, classic Nepali dumplings.
The new owners are still debating whether to keep the name Hamilton Tavern. They may rename it Spice Bar. The building, too, will get a renovation, so out will go those photos of writer Charles Bukowski in the men’s room, and poems by Sylvia Plath in the ladies’.
The restaurant has a hearing before the liquor board next month; Karkai expects to open in about three months.
I mentioned Uprety owns another new restaurant. That would be Harbor Tandoor on 803 S. Caroline Street, on the ground floor of the Point Place residences in Fells Point. Co-owners are Uprety’s cousin, Mandira Mainal, and chef Ram R. Thapa.
Though Harbor Tandoor has just been open a month, some customers have eaten six times already, says Thapa to try its mix of Indian and Nepali cuisine. House specialties include bone-in chicken biryani, which serves two people.
Uprety has another restaurant, Tandoor Spice, coming soon to Woodstock, Maryland, with partner Dines Thapa. The address is 10805 Birmingham Way #22.
New concept for Fells Point basement bar and Points South
I had been wondering what was going on with the basement bar at Admiral Fell Inn, a charming if slightly spooky haunt that, at least in the pre-pandemic era, was known to have some of the best eggnog in town (and maybe a couple of ghosts). But it’s been closed for much of the pandemic.
Well, that pub, officially named The Tavern at the Admiral — along with another big restaurant within the hotel — will be reopened by restaurateur Ashish Alfred, according to a release from his publicist. Alfred already owns and operates Duck Duck Goose, which sits just above the bar in the Admiral Fell Inn, as well as the newer concept No Way Rosé in Federal Hill.
Alfred is rebranding the basement pub into the Anchor Bar; it’s set to open this fall. This winter, he’ll also launch an old-school Italian concept in the Points South Latin Kitchen space, vacant since 2019. The menu will be geared toward crowd-pleasing Italian American staples like chicken Parmesan and spaghetti. Later, he’ll take over the hotel’s catering and event operations.
Melanie’s Griffith’s Tavern gets a shoutout from Melanie Griffith
If you read my article a few months ago on the new ownership for Hampden dive Griffith’s Tavern, still called “the icehouse” by some locals, you know that the place was recently renamed Melanie’s at Griffith’s Tavern.
I think it’s safe to assume actress Melanie Griffith approves. She recently shared a photo of the bar on Instagram with the caption: “I am honored to have this Tavern, in the city my fathers family hails from, named after me. It looks like a destination one can have “a good ass time”!! And… they serve nonalcoholic drinks! My kinda place.”
‘I’ll have what she’s having’
Elaine Stevens at Alonso’s told me her turkey sandwiches and platters have been selling fast since I mentioned the dish in a recent column.
What are some under-the-radar dishes at local restaurants that you just love sharing with people? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.