Hot Plate: New Happenings at The Elephant, Dining Out for Life, Rye Street Tavern Opens & More

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Upstairs at the Elephant, a new speakeasy-style lounge on The Elephant’s second floor, opened this week.

It’s mid-September, which means fundraiser season is in full swing in Baltimore – and that’s great news for local food lovers. This week brings a variety of different ways to raise money for great causes while eating fabulous food – plus a handful of other fun events and announcements.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around town this week:

Openings & Announcements

This week brings big news in restaurant openings, with a couple highly anticipated spots opening up around town.

Rye Street Tavern, the new spot attached to Sagamore Spirit Distillery,. Chef Andrew Carmellini, the mind behind Rec Pier Chop House in the Sagamore Pendry Hotel, will be helming the kitchen.

Ida B’s Table, a “modern soul food” restaurant from Chef David Thomas, quietly opened last week. Early reports are nothing but great – the drinks and food look fantastic.

Sadly, there’s a little bad news mixed in with all this good. La Folie Wine Bar, which opened in Canton in in 2016, has closed. Owner Bill Irvin hasn’t gone away, though – he is part of the team that recently opened The Avenue Kitchen & Bar in Hampden.

Changes at The Elephant

The Elephant announced a couple changes this week. Now that summer is behind us and people are back to work and school, the Mount Vernon restaurant is bringing back its Sunday brunch. Brunch starts this Sunday, with classic brunch dishes from around the world (think chicken fried steak AND huevos rancheros) and live classical and jazz music in the background.

Also, the upstairs space at the Elephant has been transformed into a speakeasy-style lounge, with a cool cocktail list and street food-inspired dishes like shrimp dumplings and seafood ceviche. As of this week, it will be open from 5 p.m. until midnight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Dining for a Cause

This week brings several opportunities to benefit something good while dining out.

Tomorrow, September 9, head to Canton for the SO BUF Fall Festival, benefiting the Friends of O’Donnell Square Park Fund. The party starts at 10 a.m. and features live music, local arts and crafts, college football and food from El Bufalo and Southern Provisions (that’s where the “SO BUF” comes from!).

On Sunday, September 10, Water for Chocolate will host a charity evening aboard the Braveheart, with proceeds going to the Saint Francis Neighborhood Center. Dishes include chicken and lemongrass dumplings and parmesan risotto balls. If you haven’t been to Water for Chocolate or tried chef/owner Sean Guy’s food, you should – it’s terrific.

On Monday, September 11, a roster of top local chefs will come together for the first ever Bean-E-Fit, an event raising money for Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids, an organization that puts together backpacks filled with healthy food that homeless children can share with their families. The event takes place at the Mt. Washington Mill Dye House and features dishes from restaurants like Linwoods, Tio Pepe, Iron Rooster, Regi’s, Wicked Sisters, The Elephant, Cypriana and The Food Market.

Two of the city’s best dining events take place on Thursday, September 14.

At the Four Seasons, chefs and food lovers will gather for the annual Passion for Food & Wine event, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Maryland. This event always sells out – with good reason. It showcases some of the best culinary talent in town and raises boatloads of money for an excellent cause.

The same night, Dining Out for Life, the citywide fundraiser for Moveable Feast, takes place. Dining Out for Life might be the most fun fundraising event of the year: to raise money for the cause, which is a great one, all you have to do is have dinner at one of the participating restaurants (and there are tons). The restaurant will then donate a portion of your check directly to Moveable Feast. If you haven’t made a reservation, do it now!

On September 15, The Corner Pantry will be providing food for Parks & People’s 7th Annual Picnic in the Park. The event, which takes place on the Parks & People’s campus on Liberty Heights Avenue, raises money to support “positive change in Baltimore City” through a focus on the city’s parks.

Chef’s Table at Grano Emporio

Grano Emporio in Hampden has added a fun new dining option: a chef’s table meal. The deal is this: five courses, each paired with a wine, for four people costs $250, which sounds like a steal.

Night School at Verde

Kids aren’t the only Baltimoreans back in school this week. On Wednesday, September 13, Baltimore Whiskey Company heads to Verde in Canton to host Night School, a cocktail-making class and dinner. The evening will include a three course meal, plus instruction in how to make five different drinks.

Planning Ahead

Here are a few events to look forward to over the next few weeks:

September 20: Taste of the Chesapeake Wine Dinner at Milton Inn 

October 2: Farm to Chef Maryland 

October 12: Moet Oyster Ball at Ryleigh’s