Earlier this month, the team behind the Harbor East wine bar and restaurant Vino Rosina announced that the restaurant would be closing on July 20. At the time, they said that they were already working on a follow-up concept for the same space in the Bagby building.
And they were. Their new restaurant, which will be named Oliver Speck's, will open sometime around the start of Baltimore Restaurant Week, which begins on July 26.
Executive chef Jesse Sandlin said the specialty at Oliver Speck's - which is named for her pet Juliana pig - will be comfort food and barbecue. Think biscuits and gravy, corn muffins, pulled pork and pork spareribs.
"It will be simple food executed as well as we can," Sandlin said. "This is what I tend to cook on my days off.”
Sandlin helped open Vino Rosina in 2010 but left within a year, only to come back last November. Sandlin said that she and owner Jim Lancaster began discussing ways to bring business back up at Vino Rosina even before she returned.
"We took a look at the neighborhood," she said. "Everyone is doing new American, modern American, small plates and farm-to-table. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the market [in Harbor East] is saturated. Let's do something completely different."
There will be minor renovations to the Bagby space, Sandlin said, which will take on a more casual atmosphere. Instead of presenting a cool wine bar vibe, Sandlin said, Oliver Speck's will be the kind of place where people can come in to watch the game on TV. The new joint will have less of a focus on wine and more on cocktails, bourbon and whiskey, Sandlin said.
Sandlin said she's bringing back her popular 16-legged burger, a combination of lamb, beef, pork and bison meat. And she's planning to start offering fixed price Sunday Supper menus, with main plates of things like pot roast, or as Sandlin calls them, "grandmother's stuff."
She and Lancaster considered a few other options for Vino Rosina’s replacement, Sandlin said, but they ultimately settled on the South, where Sandlin claims family roots on both sides. But she gave another reason. "I’m a fat kid," Sandlin said," and I’m all about biscuits and gravy. "
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