Spike & Charlie's eases into Baltimore's jazz scene

February 28, 1992|By Mike Giuliano | Mike Giuliano,Contributing Writer

Spike & Charlie's

Where: 1225 Cathedral St.

Hours: Lunch served 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; dinner served 5:30 p.m. to midnight Mondays to Thursdays, and 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The next concert at the club is saxophonist Santo Mirabile on Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. There is a $7 cover.

Menu: eclectic.

Credit cards: AE, MC, V.

Call: (410) 752-8144. If you walk past the building at the corner of West Preston and Cathedral streets late at night and hear a jazz ensemble wailing away inside, it isn't just musical nostalgia getting the better of you. Jazz has indeed returned to the site of Ethel's Place, Blues Alley and International Pavillion.

The latest tenant of this seemingly jinxed address, Spike & Charlie's, is a restaurant and wine bar that shows every sign of staying a long time. Not only has it been drawing pre- and post-concert crowds from the Meyerhoff and Lyric, but there is definitely a buzz around town that this place qualifies as a late-night best bet. The eclectic menu has dishes your mama never made -- how about buckwheat ravioli with pumpkin filling? -- and the clientele mix can be just as varied.

Now that Spike & Charlie's has caught on with winers and diners, the brothers who own this swank joint are easing into jazz programming.

"The restaurant is going well, but we wanted to start the [jazz] club in a small way compared to what used to be here. If it works, then the sky's the limit," says David "Spike" Gjerde, who owns the place along with his brother Charlie.

Judging from the first concert, it's working. When trumpeter Jimmy Wilson's FastLife played here in mid-February, not even a treacherously icy night kept 200 jazz-starved patrons from filling the downstairs club that looks much the same as in its exposed brick Blues Alley phase.

There was a relaxed feeling in the club that night -- meaning this was not an uptight see-and-be-seen expense account crowd -- and plenty of folks were sampling a creative late-fare menu of designer pizzas, salads, steaks and seafood.

"We'll try different things in the room, but staying within the realm of jazz," says club manager Michael Brown of the sound of things to come. He adds that you can expect to hear local jazz acts at the club almost every weekend for a cover charge in the $6-to-$8 range.

Upcoming is saxophonist Santo Mirabile, a former sideman for Patti LaBelle, who plays Saturday night; Larzine & New Jack Jazz on March 6; the Mack Rucks Ensemble on March 14; and the Rumba Club on March 21.

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