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May 19, 2008

Wine Market chef leaving and other news


I don't think of Dining@Large as a restaurant news blog, but lately the news has been coming so thick and fast I feel I ought to make note of some of the things I've learned.

Christian DeLutis, chef at the Wine Market in Locust Point, has left for Ireland. His sous chef, Jason Lear, a Baltimore native and a CIA graduate, has taken over the kitchen.

In response to a Midnight Sun post, reader Dick Berwanger e-mailed Sam that Aloha Tokyo in Locust Point has applied for a new liquor license to open a restaurant in the spot where Cobbers was at 1218-20 N. Charles St.

And wait, there's more: ... 

mypanini.jpgDid you know that Stone Mill Bakery in Green Spring Station is now open for dinner 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every night?

The photo above is of Dinner at Your Door. Midnight Sun Sam tells me its stall at the Cross Street Market has been abandoned for at least a week.

Germano's in Little Italy now has a Thursday evening cabaret, featuring performers from theater, popular song, jazz, classical music and opera. 

Tabrizi's is offering a fixed-price menu with a glass of wine for $35 Tuesday through Thursday. The selection, says owner/chef Michael Tabrizi, is eclectic with normal portions. 

I got this nice e-mail this weekend from owner Nelson Carey:

I read your blog on restaurant gift certificates.  In the interest of being a good neighbor, Grand Cru will happily honor ant outstanding Taste gift certificates, tax & tip not included.

Did I mention that Salt now takes reservations?

Subway recently opened a Kosher Subway in Baltimore at 700 Reistertown Road. It’s the fourth Kosher Subway in the country.

Awhile back Andy S. let me know that My Panini has opened in the Pier V Hotel restaurant space where the Peacock Cafe was. Now Sam has sent me a photo.

Oh yes, I did hear from Mel Carter. His new restaurant will serve contemporary American cuisine; will fall into the "polished casual" category, although he doesn't like the term; and the decor will be "pretty modern" with a chef's table.

"It will be a special occasion restaurant where it doesn't have to be a special occasion to go," he says.

His best friend and fellow CIA graduate Brett Lockard will be his executive chef.

Bad news for your daughter's sweet 16 party, Mr. Stravrakis. Your operating partner is predicting a late summer-early fall opening.

(Photos by Sam Sessa)



Posted by Elizabeth Large at 1:30 PM | | Comments (17)


Oh, man, I love the Wine Market. I hope it's just as good with the new chef in charge.

EL - maybe your readers/contacts know something about the Backfin Restaurant in Pikesville. Once in a while I drive by and see the sign still there...

"Polished casual?"

Does that mean I have to start waxing my bald spot?

Polished casual means you can't wear your black socks and oxfords with your shorts.

Backfin closed months ago: the building owner wasn't putting money into it, the operators gave up. It had some pretty serious structural problems.
It used to be a pretty nice place, too. It had an interesting history: it was a stag bar, and used to have a bowling alley (where the bar is).

Susan--is this from "boring Susan" (her term, not mine)? How do you know about the stag bar??? I don't think you can get away with calling yourself boring!

No, I'm not a cross-dresser or a
hooker :-)
My hubby grew up in Pikesville, and heard many a story from his dad. I think all males growing up in Pikesville used to frequent Backfin. At the time, no respectable woman would dare to go to a stag bar. Only loose women would do that.

Thanks for the update, Susan. I couldn't understand why a family seafood restaurant wouldn't work out in Pikesville. I think you have some more variety there (in Pikesville) than years past but odd (at least to me) that there's no place to tear into some hot steamed crabs. Hope the buildings owners plan to put some work into it or to sell it - and hope it doesn't become another Rite Aid (although Lord knows, we could always use another one of them!)

I just looked at the My Panini links. Seems like it would be a nice place for a casual lunch. At the bottom of their sample menu it lists a location in Atlanta. It seems Baltimore is their second location and their website says "Two new locations are planned for the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Scheduled to open late 2008." Does that make it a (gasp!) full-fledged chain?

Does that mean I have to start waxing my bald spot?

I nominate this for the best one-liner of the month.

Second the nomination! I did a spit-take when I read it.

In the 'Other News' category, this was on the USA Today Travel website:

Fast food: Satisfaction reaches all-time high

If you have time for only a quick meal, a snack or coffee on the road, there's a good chance you'll be satisfied.

Customer satisfaction with national fast-food chains reached an all-time high during this year's first quarter, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which was founded in 1994.

"The gap between full-service restaurants and fast-food providers is shrinking," says Claes Fornell, founder of the index.

"Full-service restaurants should be worried because they are becoming more vulnerable to competition," Fornell says.

Full-service chains, including Olive Garden and Red Lobster, combined for a score of 80 on a zero-to-100 scale, while fast-food restaurants scored 78.

Starbucks ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction among fast-food restaurants, and Pizza Hut finished second.

Among full-service chains, Olive Garden was first, followed by Red Lobster.

By Gary Stoller

Personally, I don't consider a 78, or even an 80, a high score.

Backfin was Spaulding's with fab neon signage (chicken with head in box, dancing lobster, and so on) rolled and pleated banquettes, and a stag bar in the back with its own entrance. The front was co-ed.

I didn't get into the particulars of the restaurant history: I figured that it would bore too many people, but yes, it was Spaulding's for many years.
Then there was Roger's Tap Room, down the street, which was later involved in a very mysterious fire/insurance investigation, and evolved into Jilly's with all the palm trees out front.
They were the two places where the local gents would go to escape their wives and have beers with their buddies.

Roger's Tap Room is gone too? Things have changed a lot since I worked in Pikesville back in the 1980s.

How about Gordon's and the Surburban House?

Gordon's is gone.
Suburban House is still there, and I think the same blue-haired ladies who worked or ate there for the last 30 years are still there. It hasn't changed. About 5 years ago I had lunch there with a friend. I was in my late 40's at the time, and I was the youngest person there.

Spam at 11:42.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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