In Good Taste

Open & Shut: De Kleine Duivel; Birroteca; Morning Mugs Coffee

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.


De Kleine Duivel: They’ve given us everything from literary-themed cocktails and foie gras  burgers to boozy shakes and gourmet hot dogs. Now, the team at the The Bluebird Cocktail Room is ready to take on yet another concept. Last year, owners Paul and Caroline Benkert took over and quietly began renovating their next-door neighbor on Hickory Avenue in Hampden. Since then, they’ve transformed De Kleine Duivel—the Belgian beer hall famous for its brews on tap and cozy, no-frills atmosphere—into a space that maintains the storied concept while also adding some of the Bluebird flair. “We wanted to preserve the most loved parts of the DKD experience,” Paul said in a statement. “It was important to us to maintain the soul of DKD, and we’re extremely excited to share this loved space again with everyone who’s supported it over the years, but now with a wider range of thoughtful offerings.”

Slated to debut on Friday, February 19, the revamped space will serve the same beloved beer collection from its grand wooden bar. But the updated drink lineup will also emphasize fermentation, with new beverages like a barreled Bee’s Knees, blueberry kombucha on tap, an array of natural wines, and a house lemon soda perfect for making a summer Shandy. In keeping with the preservation theme, locally sourced snacks will include rotating fermented vegetables from Karma Farm, beef jerky marinated in Keepwell soy sauce, and fermented honey-drizzled Tomme cheese served with sourdough focaccia. The menu will be available for dine-in, online ordering, and takeout beginning Friday. When the bar eventually operates at full capacity, it will offer 70 seats plus a deck garden for diners to gather outside. 


Birroteca: Did someone say Duck Duck Goose pizza? After nearly a year hiatus due to the impacts of the pandemic, this Hampden pizza-and-pasta haven made a celebrated comeback earlier this month. In addition to its top-notch lineup of wine and craft drafts (carryout specials include discounted Evolution Brewing six packs and 25 percent-off all wine bottles), the menu gives diners a great opportunity to get reacquainted with old favorites like hand-breaded calamari, wild boar bolognese over pappardelle, and the signature Duck Duck Goose pizza topped with duck confit and fig-onion jam. 

Morning Mugs Coffee: Taking over the former home of Hanover & Hughes Collective in Otterbein is this new java joint from Federal Hill resident Tyler DellaRatta. Coffee, cold brew, matcha, chai, espresso, and a daily selection of pastries are all available for breakfast and lunch service at Morning Mugs—whose name was inspired by a morning ritual that DellaRatta routinely shares on his social media. Every morning when he opens his dishwasher or cabinet, he guesses what color the inside of his coffee mug is going to be. “I started recording my morning ritual, and it didn’t take long for others to catch on and become just as intrigued as I was,” DellaRatta shares on his website. “Sharing these precious moments with my friends and family made each morning that much more important… Now, I am happy to share the Morning Mugs experience with everyone who walks into our coffee shop.” The new spot offers online ordering and operates Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 


One-Hour Dining Restriction Lifted in Baltimore City: After analyzing recent data and re-evaluating many of his COVID-19 restrictions, Mayor Brandon Scott announced earlier this week that the one-hour maximum time limit for indoor dining will be removed effective Monday, February 22. As of now, city restaurants must continue to maintain a sign-in sheet and adhere to the 25 percent capacity for indoor dining and 50 percent cap for outdoor. “Baltimore City continues to have one of the lowest positivity rates in the state, but residents and visitors must remain vigilant,” Scott said in a press release. “Everyone must continue to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings if we want to continue to build on these gains and keep our community safe.”

Clavel: Just when we thought we couldn’t love Clavel any more, the crew at the Remington restaurant recently began to renovate an adjacent Nixtamaleria—which will serve as a space for them to grind corn and make masa for their tortillas. When it’s finished, it will also host a carryout counter that offers lunch and bottles of mezcal to-go. “This has been a long time dream of ours only now made possible through this great pause of life,” reads a recent Instagram post. “This brutal pandemic that has both given and taken with the same hand.”

Dough Boy Fresh Pretzel Co.: This homegrown food vendor—perhaps best known for its pretzel roll cheesesteaks and pretzel bites smothered in creamy crab dip—is starting a new chapter next month. After candidly sharing his struggles to stay afloat throughout the pandemic (Dough Boy Fresh was the first of many local food businesses to receive relief from the Barstool Fund), owner Jeff Carter announced this week that he will be leaving his production space in Dundalk to pursue pop-ups around the Baltimore brewery scene. Throughout March, Dough Boy Fresh will quell carb cravings at Mobtown Brewing in Brewers Hill every weekend (a new collaboration beer with Mobtown called Natty Dough is due out soon) and Key Brewing in Dundalk every Thursday. In an Instagram post, Carter shared that he is in search of a new permanent home to not only prep his food, but also host other pop-ups and food trucks on weekends. 


2/19-2/21: Woodberry Kitchen’s Subculture Pop-Up Menu
The theme for Woodberry Kitchen’s creative pop-up menu this weekend is “subculture”—which the restaurant defines as “a deep dive into deliciousness with anything that can fit on a long roll.” Sandwich lovers can choose from a lineup that fills toasted rolls with everything from fried oysters and falafel to spicy pork shoulder and Buffalo chicken. If you’re in the mood for something classic, try out “The Zeppelin,” topped with griddled Rettland Farm andouille sausage, peppers, onions, provolone, and horseradish mustard. Don’t forget to add a requisite bag of chips and a house-baked brownie when you order online. 

2/28, 3/7, 3/14: Sunday Supper Series at the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore
The Sagamore Pendry in Fells Point has rolled out a new dinner series inspired by the  comforting feeling of sharing a meal around the dinner table at home. Every Sunday, the hotel will offer a four-course, carryout dinner for four that can be reheated in the comfort of your kitchen. This weekend’s menu is an ode to a classic chicken box, featuring honey-brined fried chicken, Old Bay fries, coleslaw, and apple pie for dessert. The best part? A portion of the proceeds from every meal sold will benefit the Living Classrooms Foundation.