In Good Taste

Open & Shut: The Corner Pantry; Ropewalk Tavern; NiHao Baltimore

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.


The Corner Pantry Expands: Since it opened on Valentine’s Day in 2014, many Mt. Washington dwellers have made this breakfast-and-lunch spot a part of their regular routine. Come March, the cafe will offer even more to love by nearly doubling its footprint. The spot will expand into the vacant space next door and add an additional 1,150 square feet. With more room to breathe, husband-and-wife owners Neill and Emily Howell plan to add a second counter for faster service, optional private dining and meeting space, and an expanded kitchen that will allow them to amp up catering. Plus, there will be more opportunities to host events and cooking classes for customers.

“Since we opened nearly six years ago, we have been able to produce some really incredible food out of a 400 square-foot kitchen,” Neill said in a statement. “Our business has evolved based on the feedback and needs from our customers, and we know expanded seating and offerings are what we can add at this point in our journey.” The owners plan to remain open for most of the construction period, which will begin in January.

Cosima Brings Names New Executive Chef: There’s been a slight shift in the kitchen operations at this Southern Italian destination along the Jones Falls in Hampden. Longtime chef de cuisine Jonathan Hicks was recently promoted to executive chef. But, rest assured—Baltimore’s own culinary queen Donna Crivello isn’t going anywhere. She’s stepped into the role of concept director at Cosima, where she will continue the restaurant’s monthly cooking classes, add tutorials for children on the weekends, and oversee private events. “As the granddaughter of Cosima and daughter of a Neapolitan mother, I absolutely love the warmth of Southern Italian hospitality,” Crivello said in a statement. “Those ideals are at the root of the restaurant, and I’m excited to be able to maintain and expand them.”

Bird in Hand Adds Bar Program: Since opening near the Johns Hopkins University campus three years ago, students and neighbors have relied on this collaborative spot—from the teams behind the Ivy Bookshop and Woodberry Kitchen—for a strong latte, espresso, or pastry. Last month, the cafe added to its offerings by launching “Bird Bar,” a collection of wine, beer, and cider to pair with the food menu. In keeping with Bird in Hand’s hyper-local philosophy, the list features Baltimore purveyors including Peabody Heights, Union Craft, and Oliver Brewing Company.


Ropewalk Tavern: For nearly six months, Federal Hill revelers have missed the strong drinks and lively piano bar at this neighborhood staple. The McFaul family—who also runs three Ropewalk locations on the Eastern Shore—closed their flagship in July to make some fun upgrades in honor of the bar’s 25th anniversary year. And at the grand reopening party earlier this week, the team unveiled refreshed bars, new arcade games like Skee Ball and basketball shoot-outs, and a bowling alley upstairs. Swing by to play some of the new games, shoot a round of pool, and sip one of Ropewalk’s 150 featured beers.


Angels Ate Lemons: The weekend before Christmas, Socle—the Old Goucher complex that houses Larder, Sophomore Coffee, and beer garden and natural wine bar Fadensonnen—will welcome yet another attraction. This new weekend concept invites guests to taste some of the worldly wines from Fadensonnen’s storage room in a daytime setting. Named after a line in an Etel Adnan poem, the experience is meant to foster “deep conversation and togetherness,” according to a message posted to Instagram. Angels Ate Lemons marks yet another innovative bar program from Lane Harlan, who also oversees Clavel and W.C. Harlan nearby in Remington.

NiHao Baltimore: We’ve been keeping tabs on this Baltimore expansion from culinary icon Peter Chang, who began his career as a chef at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. He has built an empire serving Sichuan specialties at strip-mall restaurants throughout the DMV, as well as at his fine-dining spot Q by Peter Chang in Bethesda. Earlier this year, word spread that the chef and his family planned to take over the former Fork & Wrench space in Canton. Though the restaurant isn’t slated to open until February 2020, the family was given a warm welcome last weekend when they hosted a pop-up at Artifact Coffee—giving diners a sneak peek at what the menu might look like when NiHao Baltimore officially opens.

Tofu skin salad and Sichuan pickled baked rockfish were among the featured dishes from Peter, his wife, pastry chef Lisa Chang, and chef Pichet Ong. (Ong is the James Beard award-nominated chef behind Brothers and Sisters located inside The Line Hotel in D.C., which also houses Artifact sister-spot, A Rake’s Progress.) Stay tuned for more details on NiHao’s highly anticipated grand opening in 2020.