I got an e-mail from chef Edward Kim saying that as of June 17, he no longer will be executive chef at Saffron Modern American. (Apparently that's the formal name of the restaurant at 802 N. Charles St. in Mount Vernon.)
I talked to him on the phone, and he said his one-year contract has expired, and he didn't want to sign a new one.
When I asked him why he was leaving, he said, "It was interesting and challenging - and let's just leave it at that."
No word on where he's going next. All he said was, "I'll be looking for other opportunities in the Baltimore/Maryland area."
Not your usual Shore place -- Now that summer has unofficially started, I'll pay more attention to what's happening across the Bay Bridge. New this season is Solstice in Berlin (2 E. Main St., 410-641-3589), located in the Atlantic Hotel in the town's historic district, which is a short drive from Ocean City.
The hotel and restaurant have been bought by Sam Chmar and Nino Mancari, formerly chef at Liquid Assets, a popular wine and martini bar in O.C. Mancari also has worked with chefs Alice Waters and Thomas Keller in California.
Chmar and Mancari have combined the hotel's dining room and cafe into one "bistro-style" restaurant, as Chmar describes it.
The emphasis is on seasonal, fresh ingredients from local vendors; and the menu is mostly American with a slight Spanish accent.
Dinner entrees run $19 to $28, or order from the tapas menu if you don't want to spend that much.
More spoons --On weekends, Spoons Coffee Cafe and Roastery (24 E. Cross St., 410-539-6751) often has to turn people away. By the end of the summer, Federal Hill's popular breakfast and lunch spot should have a brand-new space upstairs to seat larger parties and hold events.
Renovations are starting soon, says co-owner Deborah Cogan, who describes the food as local, organic whenever possible and made from scratch on the premises.
Hog heaven, part deux --With all the blogging I did about barbecue last week (baltimoresun.com/diningatlarge), nobody told me about the just-opened Pig Pickers in Ellicott City (3417 Plumtree Drive, 410-465-9663).
Two other Pig Pickers are located in Sea King seafood markets in Catonsville and Randallstown.
Co-owner Bill King says the newest Pig Picker is much larger, with seating both indoors and outside at picnic tables.
Besides the Memphis-style barbecue all three locations specialize in, the Ellicott City branch has smoked beef brisket, smoked turkey breast and - get this - carrot souffle.
Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.