Not all that long ago there weren't any good places to eat around the Charles Theater. (Before you start to argue, even the 80s doesn't seem all that long ago to me.) Once the theater expanded in the 90s, we got Tapas Teatro. Eventually Sofi's Crepes came along. And a couple of years ago the Cheapeake Restaurant re-opened to great fanfare after being closed for over two decades. And then it closed right back up again. Thankfully, Helmand Karzai, whose family owns Tapas Teatro, the Helmand, and b Bistro, came in to make the historic space really work. The new restaurant became Pen & Quill, after the original Chesapeake's cocktail bar. Helmand's wife Naomi became bar manager while her sister, Bella Kline, took over the kitchen as executive chef. These changes have made the northeast corner of Charles and Lanvale the place to be once again .
We were invited to partake of a media dinner to taste Chef Bella's food. Though young, she's got serious French technique and the creativity to pair it with unusual ingredients. Some of the items we tasted were on the winter menu, but there were also some dishes she was trying out for spring. No matter the season, all were enjoyable.
The first course included house-made burrata, a mountain of mozzarella filled with mascarpone and cream. Marinated mushrooms cut the richness, and a thoughtful spoon of salt was included so diners could adjust seasoning to their liking. We thought it was perfect as is.
We were really impressed with Bella Kline's dishes and are happy that the old Chesapeake Restaurant building is finally being put to good use. The bar looks like a fun place to hang out, and the drinks list includes local brews, a careful selection of wines, and some creative cocktails. We only tried a gingery Pimm's cup, but would love to go back for more. We'd also like to try Bella's steamed buns and amazing-looking fried chicken sandwich.
Pen & Quill
1701 N Charles St
Baltimore, MD 21202
Posted on Minxeats.com.