Hot Plate: The Island Room at Pen & Quill launches, Alewife and Cask & Grain close, Pickles to expand and more

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The Island Room, a collaboration between Baltimore Whiskey Company, Lyon Distilling and Pen & Quill, will pop up at Pen & Quill for a month, starting Friday, June 29.

It’s officially summertime, Baltimore, which means it’s time to get serious about al fresco dining, beachy cocktails and crabs. This week, local restaurants have you covered. Here’s a look at what to expect:

Openings and announcements

Ludlow Market, Bar & Bottle Shop officially opened at the end of last week. The business, located in the old Wine Market Bistro space in Locust Point, is a restaurant, bar and bottle shop with a kitchen helmed by chef Christopher Audia.

The Pizza Trust, the new pizza spot in Belvedere Square, opened Friday in the newly revamped space that used to house Tooloulou.

Orioles’ fan favorite Pickles Pub announced last week that it is expanding. A second location will open in Dundalk later this summer and the owner plans to open up to a dozen additional locations over the next few years.

Bluebird Cocktail Room has launched its summer cocktail menu, including drinks like the cotton candy sour, made with Midori, lemongrass vodka, lemon and cotton candy.

This week brought some sad news, too, with the announcement that Alewife closed after service on Saturday, June 16. The restaurant was a staple of the downtown area near the Hippodrome and has left behind some very sad fans.

In addition, Canton’s Cask & Grain closed quietly a few weeks ago; the restaurant is currently for sale. Cask & Grain opened in January 2017 to much fanfare. Chef Paul Hajewski’s food was a hit with locals.

Bikes and Beers Baltimore

Love biking? And beers? This Saturday, combine the two for Bikes and Beers Baltimore, a Baltimore City bike ride starting at Union Craft Brewing‘s new location at Union Collective, and featuring a midway pit stop for refreshments.

There are two course, one 15 miles and one 30 miles. All riders will receive an official pint glass and koozie, and two free beers.

Live at the BBQ

Graffiti Alley, behind the Motor House, will be jumping on Saturday with Live at the BBQ, featuring a street party and dance contest, DJ and Korean BBQ to keep you going.

Brews & bites

This week is a great one for beer dinners, with several stellar choices.

On Saturday, The Outpost American Tavern hosts an RAR Sour Beer dinner showcasing four tart brews produced by the Eastern Shore’s own RAR Brewing, alongside dishes created by the Outpost chef to pair with the brews.

On Monday, June 25, The Brewer’s Art and Rye Street Tavern partner for a Brewer’s Dinner held in the restaurant’s Port Side Loft space. The four-course meal includes dishes like crispy Maine lobster with Marcona almonds, cherries and spring onions, paired with the brewery’s Sagamore barrel-aged cherry sour beer.

Out on the farm

Farm dinners offer an opportunity to enjoy food right at its source, and this week Baltimoreans have opportunities to check out three different ones, courtesy of several restaurants.

On Saturday, Falling Branch Brewery, a farm brewery in Harford County, will host the Parts & Labor team for a pig roast in the farm’s historical barn. The meal includes roasted pig with veggies and a salsa bar, plus an ice cream truck serving dessert.

On Sunday, the La Cuchara crew will travel to Zahradka Farm in Essex for An Evening at the Farm, featuring a lovely open-air meal from chef Ben Lefenfeld, using seasonal produce from Zahradka. Dishes will include chapa roasted wild mushrooms with chevre and whole grilled lamb.

Also on Sunday, The Elephant will host A Night at the Farm Under the Stars at Roots Farm at McDonogh School. The evening will include a five-course meal using produce picked that day from the farm and prepared right onsite.

Rosé at the Bay

On Sunday, Ouzo Bay goes pink with Rosé at the Bay, an “afternoon social” featuring passed appetizers, live music, fashion from cute Harbor East shop Sassanova and 20 different rosés to sample.

Foraging with Foraged

Chef Chris Amendola, the talent behind Foraged Eatery in Hampden, is launching a series of foraging classes to help people understand how to find their own food around the area. The first class will take place Sunday. Each one will be limited to 10 students, so get your tickets early!

Crabby times

It’s prime crab season and local restaurants and organizations–even those that aren’t traditional crab houses–are getting in on the action.

On Saturday, the annual Chesapeake Crab and Beer Festival will take over Rash Field. The festival includes all-you-can-eat (or à la carte) crabs, plus over 50 beers and wines, plus a few spirits.

On Wednesday, June 27, Ida B’s Table teams up with The Real News Network to host The Whole Bushel Live, a crab feast accompanied by artist talks from Brooks Long and Bobbi Rush.

Mt. Washington Tavern’s Crustacean Invasion menu debuts Sunday, July 1 and will last all month long. The menu, which is available throughout the restaurant, includes classics like crab puffs and softshell sandwiches, as well as newer concoctions like a crab and avocado stack.

The Island Room at Pen & Quill

Baltimore Whiskey Company, Lyon Distilling and Pen & Quill are joining forces for a month-long collaboration called The Island Room, a tropical-themed pop-up installation staged in Pen & Quill’s event space.

The Island Room launches Thursday, June 28 Friday, June 29, and will feature tropical drink and food specials, island music, greenery from Remington plant shop B. Willow and a month-long limbo competition.

The pop-up will close with a bang: a Christmas in July celebration on July 28.

Planning for Independence Day

Hard as it is to believe, the Fourth of July is coming up next week. If you’re planning a party, check out The Classic Catering People’s custom 4th of July menu, featuring BBQ-friendly dishes like buttermilk fried chicken and herbed corn salsa.

Planning Ahead

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

July 13: Chef’s Expressions Bastille Day Dinner 

July 26: Crabs & Beer Dinner at Gertrude’s 

August 23: Summer Soiree at The Pendry 

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