A tale of two Harborplaces
Under the earlier post on restaurants we miss, there was an abortive discussion on Harborplace in its first few years.
This is a subject I've been meaning to post on. It interested me that there were two different views of Harborplace in the early '80s:
...The wonderful cheese restaurant at Harborplace. Ms. Desserts at harborplace. The good Italian restaurant at the Pratt Street Pavilion that has been replaced by a souped up pizza parlor. ...
The Soup Kitchen in the Light St pavillion
Many of the original restaurants and food stands in Harborplace were inventive and delicious, only to be replaced by second rate chains like the Cheesecake Factory. ...
Posted by: Nick | November 29, 2009 11:42 PM
Nick, you must recall a different Harborplace than the one which opened here in Baltimore in 1980. Its original Italian restaurant was Pronto, which Rouse had to take over after a year or two (yes, it was that bad), and which was succeeded by a revolving door of mediocre Italian joints. The Black Pearl, for "upscale" seafood, closed in short order. City Lights managed to stay open for years, but for no apparent reason other than the view of the harbor. Phillips is just about the only remaining restaurant tenant -- 'nuff said. ...
Posted by: hmpstd | November 30, 2009 6:33 AM
I still remember the excitement we all felt when Harborplace opened. I felt that way in particular because there were suddenly a bunch of new restaurants, none of them chains, to review. Restaurants didn't open as often in those days. Not like now. Here's how I remembered it in the story I wrote for my 30th anniversary as restaurant critic:
At the end of the '70s and beginning of the '80s, something wonderful happened. The new Harborplace was part of it. A number of intriguing, globally inclined restaurants opened there with names like the Black Pearl, Tandoor, Taverna Athena and Jean-Claude's.
But the exchange above inspired me to go back and look up stories on the opening of Harborplace, not just rely on my memories, which were a bit rosy-hued.
In the Light Street Pavilion, it turns out, there were Phillips Harborplace, City Lights, the Soup Kitchen, Jean-Claude's, the Colonnade Market with "fresh meats, fish, and poultry, cheese produce and seafood." (Not sure of the distinction between fish and seafood here.) The Trading Hall offered "baked goods, gourmet food, flowers, coffee and tea and a fine delicatessen."
All that was separate from the Food Hall, which had "a wide variety of ethnic and other foods including ice cream and desserts...an assemblage of 25 specialty eating places."
The Pratt Street Pavilion housed four restaurants -- again, all of them local: the Athenian Plaka, the Black Pearl, Tandoor and Pronto.
Food was so major a part of the new complex that Rob Kasper wrote the lead story in the features section on Friday, July 4, 1980, two days after the Harborplace opened. It was titled "Sampling Harborplace" and the subhead said, "Crowds, clams and chocolate mark an eater's odyssey."
Included among the yellowing clips in the files (these stories were so old they aren't in the computer archives) were some of my reviews, written when my column was still called Eater's Digest. No stars back then, but each review ran with a nice black-and-white photo. It's amazing how unattractive food looks when it's shot in black and white.
Unfortunately, our Sun photo archives don't go back that far either. This was the oldest photo of Harborplace I could find, taken in 1995 -- at Christmas time, obviously.
(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)