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October 8, 2008

A chef who's staying, and restaurants that are introducing new menus

KevinMiller.jpgI got an e-mail yesterday evening from Jeanne asking if Kevin Miller was still the head chef at Ixia in Mount Vernon. Her mother had said she had read in my column that he had left.

I hadn't reported that, I told Jeanne, but I would call the restaurant today to find out. I spoke to Anissa Cadar, Ixia's special events planner, who says Kevin is there now and will be staying. They are old colleagues: he and she met when they were being interviewed for the jobs on the same day in 2001.

While I'm talking about e-mails, I've gotten several from restaurants about changes in their menus. A lot of that seems to be going around -- because of the change of seasons, but also because of the economy. Here's what I know: ...

Tsunami, located with its sister restaurant, Lemongrass, just east of Little Italy, has revamped its menu in major ways. Prices are lower, and I'd be interested to hear if anyone has tried it recently.

RA Sushi in Harbor East has added a lot of new dishes and cocktails to its menu, but this is what caught my eye:

Last month RA extended its Happy Hour through Saturday, offering food and drink specials from 3 to 7 p.m. Sushi and appetizers on the Happy Hour menu are now reduced to half-off the regular menu prices. Drink specials range from $1 to $5, and include beer, sake and a wide variety of specialty cocktails.

Clementine in Hamilton sent me their fall menu, which included:

* Roasted Rosemary Brined Bone-in Chicken Breast w/ Sauternes, Wild Mushroom & Honey Sauce over Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Chilled Roasted Asparagus $18
* Grilled Vande Rose Baltimore Strip w/ w/ Sautéed Chesapeake Oysters & Leeks Finished w/ Brandy & Cream & Mashed Spuds w/ Sautéed Veggies $23
* Lemon Baked Wahoo w/ Crawfish Sweet Corn Slaw, Rice & Stewed Chili Tomatoes & Okra $18

Shall I tell you about the announcement I got about the new Jonathan Ogden cabernet? Nah. I'm getting hungry; I think I'll go home and fix dinner.


(Photo of Kevin Miller by Kim Hairston/Sun photographer)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:29 PM | | Comments (13)


Tsunami, ... has revamped its menu in major ways. Prices are lower, ...

Glug glug glug ... that's the awful sound of something big going down the drain. Ten months in and you're still trying to find something that works. Game over. RA stole your hipster mojo dudes.

It would help if Tsunami had a website that actually worked.

The last time I looked, their web site was still in development after nine months in business. That indicates a lack of seriousness or capital to me. Anyway it signals to me that things are not well-managed at the top.

EL: That's another big sign that your restaurant is in trouble - no web site or a terrible one. It is the 21st century equivalent of the restaurant sign with some of the letters burnt out:

I remember being shocked that an expensive huge footprint high profile place like that had the IT skills and commitment of a lemonade stand. Very bad move. It says undercapitalized to me.


The Ogden wine cannot be shipped to Maryland, who else would buy it?

Based on promises of a re-tooled menu and renovated building and commericals on 98 Rock (I don't usually listen to that for the record - I like WTMD); we (GF and ) tried out The Harryman Grill (I believe that's what they have changed their signs to read) last weekend. We took the ads to believe that the menu would be more affordable. We were underwhelmed. They had 3 or 4 soups at 8 bucks a bowl. Raw oysters were 2 bucks a piece which is what they're charging in NYC for oysters. We generally pay anywhere from a dollar a piece to a buck and a half per in Balto. The menu was very small and only the appetizers were really interesting to me. I thought the entrees sounded pretty blah and expensive. Some of the appetizers were pricey too in the over $10 territory. The wine list seemed much smaller and the least expensive bottle of wine was about $25. I was happy enough with my food but what we ended up getting, one bottle of inexpensive wine, oysters and salmon burgers; capped by one after dinner drink each was pretty expensive. If I knew I was going to put down that type of mula I would have gone to someplace ... well...better...

Jason -- according to this item on the blog of The Sun's Bill Ordine, the Ogden wine (for which Reliable Churchill is the local wholesale distributor) will be available in some Maryland wine stores. (Unfortunately, State law prohibits Marylanders from mail order wine purchases.)

Latest update on what's going in at the old GAMPYs: The front of the building has been retooled with new windows and door. The interior has been painted; their chairs and glassware have been delivered. There is a deli case just inside the front door. No name or planned opening that I could see. They sure are taking their time with the refit. I think it would be cool if it's partnered with the liquor store next to it.

Oh, you gang, please talk more about Web sites, and whether and how they influence your perceptions of restaurants. (Confession: they do mine.)

And how does that make you feel Mr. gorelick?

Web sites certainly influence how I feel about a restaurant, but a horrible website isn't a deal breaker.

What I want is the hours, address (bonus points for cross streets and or a link to a map) and the menus. With prices, please. It is also nice if they mark vegetarian or vegan chow (bonus points for gluten-free) as this makes it a lot easier when I'm trying to figure out where to go with people who have special needs diets.

On my fantasy list would be listing what buses stop nearby. If a restaurant has information about parking, they should about the bus.

Craptastic flast-fests that bury what little information their is reflects badly on anyone involved.

The fact that MDers can't get mail-order wine just sux.

I've joined a wine club ( Four Seasons Wine) and the wines they send are absolutely the best! I was getting a mix of whites and reds, but switched to reds only because of the health benefits. I've had a Bonardo from Argentina that was most excellent and I currently have a Spanish red, Iglesia Vieja, uncorked that runs a very close second.

Instead of slots, MDers should lobby the legislature to allow mail-order wine.

PCB Rob, I believe legislation has been introduced for several years in a row to allow Marylanders to receive wine by mail order. I would love to be able to order wines from Williamsburg Winery in Virginia. The problem is, lobbyists for Maryland wineries manage to quash the proposed legislation every time. Maryland wineries don't want it, so their lobbyists kill's that simple.

Dottie -- actually, according to the Maryland Wineries Association, they're all in favor of laws allowing direct mail order purchases. I believe that the opposition is being spearheaded by local liquor distributors, the middlemen who would be cut out of the action if direct mail order purchases were allowed.

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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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