If the Sunset Grill seems really fresh-looking, it's not just because this restaurant-bar has only been open a couple weeks. It's also because this is a club with Southern California on its mind.
This translates to design lines as lean as Jane Fonda, a grill-happy menu, a bar logo emulating the sun setting over the ocean, soothing paint colors like sea foam green and rose that are often echoed by the color of patrons' T-shirts, and a blond wood-trimmed bar that seems to attract blond-haired patrons.
It's not the sort of club you'd expect to find in a suburban shopping strip, but there it is in the Loch Raven Plaza site most recently occupied by another club called Sippers.
Inspired by a Don Henley song, the Sunset Grill aims to attract those for whom that performer is a long-familiar name.
"When people get to be my age -- I'm 40 -- they don't want to go into a club where everybody in the place is 21," says owner Tim Barger, formerly a co-owner of Hummers and the Barn. "I want to attract the thirtysomething people who are starting to feel uncomfortable because they're 10 years older than the crowd at many clubs."
So his Sunset Grill goes for a calming seaside ambience without the surf's up shouts found in so many surfside-themed bars. In other words, he does not want any of the hormonal hassles associated with the late Surfside Sally's in Fells Point.
Well, does it work? After all, the Sunset Grill is in Hillendale, not Hawaii.
If this surprisingly good-looking place can overcome what seems like a jinxed location and pull enough Towsonites, it could establish itself as an agreeable semi-tropical oasis. There is a lot of beach-type music coming from the DJ booth Tuesday through Sunday nights. There is enough floor space to dance without bumping into people seated at the bar or restaurant tables, but sometimes it's nice to just lean back and listen to the Beach Boys; let's be honest, a thirtysomething body is not quite what it once was on the dance floor.
The Sunset Grill
Where: 825 Taylor Ave., Loch Raven Plaza.
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.
Menu: pasta, salads, burgers, seafood, grilled chicken and steak.
Credit cards: AE, MC, V.