Weber's appealingly mixes old and new

RESTAURANTS

August 30, 1991|By Lynn Williams | Lynn Williams,Sun Restaurant Critic

Weber's on Boston stands at the crossroads of old and new. Quite literally: To one side are the ranks of expensive new condos lining what is now called (without irony, apparently) "Canton's Gold Coast." Look the other way, though, and the scene is do Weber's on Boston stands at the crossroads of old and new. Quite literally: To one side are the ranks of expensive new condos lining what is now called (without irony, apparently) "Canton's Gold Coast." Look the other way, though, and the scene is dominated by the semi-derelict, but still dauntlessly deco, American Can Company. Nearby, a tattooed man plays with his dog in front of a Formstone row house. He, undoubtedly, was Canton before Canton was cool.

Weber's itself is an old-new synthesis. This restaurant and bar recently opened, but there's been a tavern here for well over a century, and some of the fixtures in the handsomely-revamped building date from Weber's wicked days as a speakeasy, gambling den and, some whisper, brothel.

The look is once again turn-of-the-century, but the mood is more Masterpiece Theatre than den of iniquity. The gorgeous bar is made of hand-carved mahogany, the stamped tin ceilings are stupendous, elegantly-muted paisleys drape tables and windows, and the restoration (by Arc Studios of Fells Point) was overseen by the Maryland Historic Trust. A feast for the senses? Well, most of them. The noise from the bar was deafening. Our taste buds, though, were well-served.

Even standard bar-fare items are done with imagination. Instead of being coated with the usual Tabasco, Weber chicken wings ($4.95) come in a duskier, more complex sauce of chili paste and garlic. Spring rolls ($4.95) are a less orthodox starter, especially spring rolls billed as Thai-style. The curried flavors were Indian, though, and the dipping sauce was a sprightly Chinese hoisin.

My companion was disappointed that the pork chop ($10.25) no longer comes with mashed potatoes. (Customers were complaining if they didn't get a version just like Mom's, one of the owners explained.) But he was happy with the chop itself, at least an inch thick and enticingly char-broiled. While the menu promised a marinade with chilies, honey, vinegar and tomatoes, the result tasted more of simple pan juices -- comfort food rather than exotica.

The sauteed jumbo shrimp ($12.95) could hardly lose with such wonderful ingredients: not only shrimp, but angel-hair pasta, broccoli, shiitakes and just enough garlic and Parmesan. The dish was richly luxurious, but appealingly lightweight and healthful.

Desserts, which included an excellent chocolate cheesecake and an unusually light, warm linzertorte, aren't made in-house, but homemade desserts are promised soon. They should make Weber's even more popular than it already is -- and that's saying something for a restaurant that was almost filled to capacity on a Tuesday night.

Weber's on Boston

Where: 845 S. Montford Ave. (at Boston Street.)

Hours: Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Mondays to Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.

to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays,

.` 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.

Credit Cards: AE, MC, V.

Features: American and international dishes, seafood, light fare.

Non-smoking section? Yes.

Call: 276-0800.

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