Table Talk: De Kleine Duivel coming to Chesapeake Restaurant building

A restaurant named De Kleine Duivel is coming to the long-vacant Chesapeake Restaurant complex.
A restaurant named De Kleine Duivel is coming to the long-vacant Chesapeake Restaurant complex. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun)

The ongoing Chesapeake Restaurant project, now under way near the Charles Theatre, has signed on a Belgian brasserie. De Kleine Duivel, which will be operated by Baltimore native Paul Kopchinski, will feature Belgian beers, boutique wines and spirits, and a select menu of traditional Flemish-French dishes in an Art Nouveau setting.

After sitting empty for a quarter of a century, the buildings that once housed the historic Chesapeake Restaurant were purchased in October 2010 from the city by Michael Shecter and Ernst Valery of Station North Development Partners LLC for $2.5 million. Their original plans for the Chesapeake project included restaurateur Qayum Karzai (The Helmand, Tapas Teatro), but Karzai pulled out in the spring of 2011.

After Karzai's withdrawal, Valery formed a new team including himself and his partners in Milk & Honey Market, a gourmet cafe and emporium with branches in Philadelphia and Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood. Meanwhile, the developers continued to seek out a another tenant to augment their own operations. That's where Kopchinski, who had attempted to open a version of De Kleine Duivel in Hampden, comes in.

A mainstay of Baltimore dining for decades, the former Chesapeake Restaurant has been closed since 1987. The property is actually a sprawl of formerly separate town houses. The Belgian brasserie will occupy the two spaces at 1707 and 1709 N. Charles St. A late spring opening is anticipated.

The friendship project Check out this pairing — Ted Stelzenmuller, the chef/owner of Canton's beloved Jack's Bistro, and "gypsy brewer" Brian Strumke, founder of the Baltimore-based Stillwater Artisanal Ales, are opening a Canton pub this spring named Of Love and Regret.

As Stelzenmuller begins to focus on opening Of Love and Regret, he will be keeping one foot in Jack's Bistro. But he won't be at Jack's full time. Stelzenmuller admitted that deciding to move ahead with the new venture wasn't easy.

"It was a big concern," he said. "That weighs on my mind. How will [this] affect Jack's Bistro? But I wouldn't do it if I wasn't confident."

Although he plans to be in Jack's kitchen on Friday and Saturday nights, Stelzenmuller will be entrusting much of the daily running of Jack's to his sous chef, Dave Munyon, who has been with Jack's for a few years.

"He knows everything that I know, and he feels the same way I do about food. If I didn't have the right people in the right places, I wouldn't have done it," said Stelzenmuller, who said that he's passed up other opportunities in the past.

As for the cuisine at Of Love and Regret, which will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Stelzenmuller says it will focus on quality ingredients but with less flashy technique than diners at Jack's are used to.

Stelzenmuller and Strumke have teamed up before, for several Stillwater beer dinners that were held at Jack's Bistro. (Strumke was an early customer of the Canton restaurant.) "I'm excited to work with Brian's product," the chef said. "We're always going to have something that he's brewed. Specials are going to reflect what's just been shipped back to the country."

Of Love & Regret, by the way, is the name Strumke gave to his first import beer in Stillwater Import Series, which he produced in the village of Beerzel, located in the Antwerp province of Belgium.

All Greek to you Baltimore Greek Week is coming back. The second annual celebration of Greek history, culture and food is scheduled to run from March 18 to 25. This year's theme is "The Mediterranean Diet: A Greek Journey Through Food."

Throughout the eight-day event, some 20 area restaurants will participate by offering discounts and special menu items, along with special events like wine tastings, lectures and movie screenings.

The grand finale of Greek Week, presented by the Baltimore-Piraeus Sister City Committee, is the annual Greek Independence Day parade on March 25.

For more information go to baltimoregreece.org.

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