Casey Jenkins, chef/owner of Darker Than Blue Cafe (3034 Greenmount Avenue, 443-872-4468) is a sweetheart and maybe an urban saint. A native New Yorker, he's so passionate about Baltimore that he's staked his all on Waverly, a desperately underserved neighborhood when it comes to fine dining. Named for Curtis Mayfield's bluesy anthem of inner-city hope, Darker features mammoth platters of Jenkins' fine Southern cooking (he's a Culinary Institute of America grad), like superlative ribs, chicken—both fried and slow-roasted—and fresh greens from the farmer's market around the way. The place may be a modest storefront, but Jenkins has brought considerable polish and pluck to his enterprise. That, plus the force of his irresistibly sunny personality, is worth the price of admission alone. And how could any Baltimorean resist a guy who, when told that his crab cakes were too Northeast, quickly mastered a way with the local favorite that competes with the best. Shine on, Casey.
Issue date: January, 2008