I’ve always considered Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood the city’s cultural district and when you cross over Mt. Royal Avenue it becomes Station North’s Art District, up to North Avenue and a wee bit beyond.
Center to the arts district is the Charles Theatre, bastion of indie and first run movies and close by, at the corner of North Charles Street and Lanvale Streets is Pen and Quill Restaurant, where the original 20th century Chesapeake Restaurant reigned supreme for many years.
The space lay dormant for many years, went through a revival under the name of the Chesapeake but failed to garnish customers. Step in Helmand and Quayum Karzai of the Helmand, B Bistro and Tapas Teatro restaurant group to re-imagine the space, food and beverage offerings.
An evening was opened to local press and social media influencers to partake of Executive Chef Bella Kline’s cuisine; she has been top toque since opening back in late summer of 2014. Chef has created a menu diverse with snacks to handle your munchies while you enjoy a cocktail, brewski or a glass of wine. If you are a bit hungrier, they have you covered with small plates, sandwiches, and entrees. We are a city that loves our oysters, so check out the raw bar blackboard for the daily offerings.
In the main dining room which holds a nice sized bar, tables and banquettes there is a seating area, a long couch, chairs and table that was especially nice for chatting up fellow writers and enjoying a selection of the raw oyster and charcuterie board.
We moved into a private dining room where we sampled current menu selections: House Made Burratta with marinated mushrooms, Pan Seared Scallops with soy glaze and banana ketchup, Smoke Beet Rueben, Lamb & Garlic Pie and their Fried Polenta with baba ghanoush and artichoke hearts. Chef Kline wanted us to taste new items she is contemplating putting on their seasonal menu: Hamachi Crudo, Beef Tartare, Green Gazpacho and Parsley Parisian Gnocchi with spring soubise.
I sipped their Pimms Cup with Shot Tower Gin – quite tasty I must say, but medications dictated I stay away from alcohol at this time. Instead, I enjoyed a lovely mocktail; a cucumber lime aqua fresca.
One of the surprises was how much I enjoyed the Smoked Beet Reuben Sandwich but that isn’t all, my faves were the Buratta, Hamachi, scallops and beef tartare. If you ask everyone who attended they all had different favorites from the evening’s menu.
The dining room/bar was hopping as we left. It is a comfortable place for the local dwellers to drink and dine. As for parking, the parking lot across the street is all of $3 or you can park on the bridge just past Penn Station after 6 p.m. Definitely put it on your dining list and tie in a movie at the Charles Theatre for an ideal evening out.
Pen And Quill – 1701 N. Charles Street – Baltimore, MD 21202 www.penandquill.net 410 601 3588
Open evenings except Sundays Facebook: @penandquillbaltimore Twitter & Instagram: @penandquill