Not Your Everyday Hotel Restaurant

DINING OUT

November 22, 1992|By ELIZABETH LARGE

Bistro 300, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 300 Light St., (410) 528-1234. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Major credit cards accepted. No-smoking area: yes. Wheelchair accessible: yes.

When people think of eating at the Hyatt Regency, they think of the rooftop restaurant, Berry & Elliott's. But the Hyatt also has what in another hotel might be a coffee shop, but in the Hyatt is a full-fledged restaurant.

If you remember, Berry & Elliott's used to be the less formarestaurant while the really fancy dining was done in the lush Trellis Garden on the mezzanine. That's where Bistro 300 is now located.

It's a great space, divided into cozy little dining areas witawnings, fountains and a mural of Fells Point as a backdrop. (Notice the pressed tin dividers that are reminiscent of Fells Point ceilings.) The colors are warm; the tables generously spaced apart; the chairs comfortable.

Bistro 300 has been around awhile; what lured us in was the promise of a new Greek menu. I couldn't imagine a hotel restaurant having exclusively Greek food for dinner, and as it turned out this was in addition to the bistro's ongoing menu. Apparently it regularly offers special menus; during the Olympics, for instance, you could get Spanish food. And it's not just food: Several Greek wines and brandies are offered, and serious hellenophiles can start off with a shot of ouzo, the classic Greek aperitif.

What's most interesting about the Greek menu is that it'composed entirely of mezedes, or appetizers. Nothing costs over $4.50. You can choose one of them as a first course, or order lots of dishes and make a meal of them with the licorice-tasting ouzo (an acquired taste) or wine. That's what I would recommend.

All of the Greek food we tried was good: Tender charcoal-broilemarinated octopus ($2.95) had a great grilled flavor. Pites ($2.95), spinach and feta cheese pastry triangles, were hot, flaky bites.

Of course, we had to have dolmas ($2.50), grapevine leaves stuffed with rice. (I would have preferred them with egg-lemon sauce rather than sour cream.) Balancing these was a salad ($4.50) of vegetables and feta cheese with a fine olive oil, vinegar and herb dressing. Taramasalata ($2.95) provided a sharp, smooth dip for the accompanying pita bread. We rounded the mezedes off with arnaki psito ($4.25), two thick slices of rare roast lamb served with new potatoes.

The rest of our meal came from the regular menu. A creamy crasoup ($4.50), with big lumps of crab, would have been a standout if it hadn't been lukewarm. A crab cake ($11.25) was a standout, the backfin seasoned and shaped into a large cake and then sauteed in butter. With it came thick french fries, nondescript coleslaw piled in a radicchio leaf and good stir-fried vegetables that weren't even mentioned on the menu.

For something lighter, I can wholeheartedly recommend thpenne pasta ($7.50). Al dente pasta was lightly coated in a creamy tomato sauce with slices of sweet sausage. Also good were the spicy chicken-and-beef fajitas ($8.25) -- except for the tomatoes, which looked and tasted like they had been grown in Alaska.

About the only thing seriously wrong with our meal was thbread, which is surprising considering that the Hyatt does its own baking. The rolls were completely undistinguished, and I've tasted fresher.

For dessert I was tempted to order the fresh fruit tart simply because it sounded so odd: According to our waiter, it was topped with melon slices. But we thought better of it and had warm upside-down apple pie ($3.25), served with an incredibly creamy ice cream flavored lightly with cinnamon. The apples were great; the crust almost non-existent. Chocolate chocolate torte ($2.95) was too densely chocolate for me, but the chocoholic in my family loved it. And, of course, we had to have a baklava ($3.95) from the Greek menu, which would have been better if it had been fresher.

No one was quite sure how long Bistro 300 will be continuing itGreek menu. By now the restaurant may be featuring some other ethnic cuisine. Still, what I liked about it would hold true in any case. Those who are feeling a little adventuresome can order from the ethnic menu while their more conservative friends can have a crab cake and their kids can get tuna fish sandwiches. All at a moderate price.

Next: Harryman House

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