This week, we’ll bid a fond farewell to Lexington Market’s East Market and get ready to greet an ambitious new restaurant in Butchers Hill. Also, football season is right around the corner, so get ready with some beer ... and ice cream?
Former Atlas chef to open in Butchers Hill
Here’s a new menu item sure to get the attention of any Baltimore foodie: tuna tartare cannoli.
The unconventional app is just a sample of what chef and restaurateur Matthew Oetting has in store for his forthcoming Butchers Hill bistro. After years working for some big name restaurant groups in Baltimore and beyond he says: “I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”
Oetting, the 42-year-old former culinary director of Titan Hospitality — he created their Smashing Grapes brand — was also corporate chef for Atlas Restaurant Group, launching concepts from Tagliata to The Bygone. Prior to that, he worked for STARR Restaurants in New York as well as restaurateur Danny Meyer.
But: “I was tired of making other restaurateurs multiples millions of dollars,” he said.
His own million-dollar idea, Marta Fine Food & Spirits, will arrive in the former Salt Tavern space at 2127 East Pratt St. Its name is an Italianized tribute to Oetting’s wife, Martha Lee, “for putting up with my crap.”
When the 60-80 seat restaurant launches this year, Marta will offer guests “an old school Italian-American bistro vibe.” The menu will feature about 30 items, including a pasta and crudo section plus bar snacks. “I’m going to do American food with a really strong Italian accent,” he said.
Could it be the start of Oetting’s very own restaurant empire? He hopes so. “I have a lot to offer the people of Baltimore,” he said.
Lexington Market says farewell
It’s the last weekend to visit a Baltimore institution: Lexington Market. The dilapidated East Market will shut down as vendors and city officials prepare to launch the new, $45 million Lexington Market just next door.
“It’s a really exciting time for us at the markets and for the entire city,” said Paul Ruppert, president and CEO of the Baltimore Public Markets Corp., the nonprofit that runs the markets for the city. At the same time: “I think for many people it’s going to be bittersweet.”
At noon on Saturday, merchants from the current market will give speeches and share memories of the 70-year-old building, which replaced the wooden market shed after a fire in the 1940s. The old market bell will be rung one final time before it’s relocated to the new building. “It’s really an opportunity to say goodbye,” Ruppert said.
The old building, which has seen problems such as failing air conditioning and vermin over the years, will become storage and offices for some city agencies and will eventually be demolished, Ruppert said.
One stalwart will remain: Faidley Seafood, which is scheduled to continue operations in the old shed through the end of the year before relocating to a stall in the new market in 2023.
While both owners for Faidley’s and representatives for the city say they are on track for the relocation, the company, a market anchor going back to 1886, still has yet to sign a lease. Crabcake fans shouldn’t worry too much, though. “I’m 99.9% sure they’re going to be moving in,” Ruppert said.
Next week, check out food trucks set up outside the new market, which is set to open sometime this fall, although Ruppert declined to give a date.
Game over for North Ave. Market
North Ave. Market has closed its doors for good, according to a post on social media. “It is unfortunate that we must close the doors, but we would like you to know how much we appreciated your business and support,” said the post shared to Instagram and Facebook.
The arcade and bar originally opened in the historic market building at North and Maryland avenues. Owners did not respond to an email from The Baltimore Banner.
The building had previously been home to Red Emma’s; neighboring businesses included pub Liam Flynn’s Ale House and the Windup Space, a concert venue. All are now shut.
Ravens GOATs you can eat or drink
Ravens football season is so close you can practically taste it. And local businesses are getting ready with foods and beverages named for players considered the “greatest of all time” — the GOATs.
First, we have The Charmery’s “GOATstachio #9,” named for star kicker Justin Tucker. According to a post on Instagram, the flavor — pistachio ice cream with white chocolate chips and a raspberry swirl — is “based off a gelato [Tucker] fell in love with during a recent trip to Italy.” Ten percent of proceeds support an after-school program at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Now comes Medfield’s UNION Craft Brewing with its “G.O.A.T. IPA” named not for Tucker, but for Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed. Six-packs of the beer will be in stores starting this week; a portion of sales will benefit the Ed Reed Foundation, which offers athletic programs to at-risk youth.
More about smearcase
A mention of smearcase in last week’s column caught the attention of reader Barbara Koehler, who promises: “if you want the best smearcase, head to Woodlea Bakery on Belair Rd. Their peach cake is my favorite too.”
The dessert is loaded with memories for reader Michele LeFaivre, of Baltimore, and her late mother, Helen. Although Helen, who was raised in Canton, had advanced dementia before she died, she recognized the Baltimore specialty right away when LeFaivre purchased it from Hoehn’s Bakery before a family gathering.
Although some of the younger generation wouldn’t touch it, “Mom and I, we ate the whole thing,” LeFaivre said.
What are your Baltimore food memories? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An earlier headline to this article referred to Matthew Oetting as a chef for Atlas Restaurant Group; he is a former chef for the company. In addition, the article incorrectly identified restaurateur Danny Meyer as a chef.