Jeepers creepers, where'd you get them beepers?

July 25, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Forget the pesky dinner bell and the blaring loudspeaker. More and more restaurants are discovering a new way to summon diners to the table: beepers.

One of the newest eateries to go techno-friendly is Tomato Palace, 10221 Wincopin Circle, in Columbia.

Since opening several months ago, the family-style Italian spot has given pagers to patrons who face a wait of 10 minutes or more. As long as the hungry masses stay within a half-mile radius, they get beeped when their table is ready.

"This seems more convenient for guests than if we yelled, 'Jones, party of two,' " says James Brown, a manager at Tomato Palace. "Clients can enjoy their meal without interference."

So far, the restaurant hasn't had a problem with people trying to steal the devices. Mr. Brown says it wouldn't be a smart move anyway.

"Unless you're on the restaurant's frequency," he says, "they're no good to you."

EUREKA: We've haven't struck gold, but we have found a new restaurant in Owings Mills. Eureka, a casual bistro at Sutton Place Gourmet, opened last month for lunch and dinner. The restaurant, in the Festival at Woodholme, replaces the gourmet shop's diner. Under chef Tom O'Brien, the emphasis is on regional cuisine.

His signature dish is Pacific Rim tostadas -- seared yellow-fin tuna served with caramelized won-ton skins. But make sure to leave room for dessert. We hear the chocolate enchilada -- a chocolate shell wrapped around chocolate mousse and finished with raspberry, strawberry and kiwi sauces -- is to die for.

MUSEUM-HOPPING: Chef John Delay has jumped museums. The former chef of the Pavilion at the Walters has gone north to the Museum Cafe. He's helping out executive chef Christopher Cherry as the cafe faces the summer onslaught. This season the outdoor courtyard has been drawing big crowds. (We can attest to this, having nabbed the last outdoor table on a recent Friday to savor our sesame-toasted swordfish.)

Look for the two culinary powerhouses, who have worked together at the Polo Grill, to come out with a collaborative menu in the next few weeks.

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE PAVILION: Barbara Ann Hulick has been named the new executive chef of the serene spot at the Walters. A Culinary Institute of America grad, she has an interesting past, having worked as a private chef for Sargent and Eunice Shriver.

"I didn't stay there long, but it's my only claim to fame," she says.

Most recently she was the executive chef of Church Home and Hospital. Her interest in eating healthfully is likely to cause some adjustments in the current menu.

"I look at the turkey burger," she says. "It's smothered with onions and cheese. What's the point of having a turkey burger, then?"

A TABLE WITH A VIEW: We've heard that every table in the dining room of Fergie's, a new restaurant at 2840 Solomons Island Road in Edgewater, offers a fine view of the South River. Of course, you pay for what you see -- with dinner entrees ranging from $16 to $21.95. The filet mignon, grilled salmon and crab cakes are all the handiwork of chef Henry McDougal, who worked at the Annapolis Yacht Club.

SAM'S IS BACK: After being closed for about six months, Sam's Waterfront Cafe, 2020 Chesapeake Harbour Drive East, Annapolis, lives again. Within a week of buying the place, Mary Randall reopened with grand plans. Two-thirds of chef Philip Sokolowski's menu is seafood -- pan-roasted salmon with Southwestern white bean cassoulet; caramelized sea scallops with a warm zucchini, tomato and basil salad; and bouillabaisse with mussels, clams, shrimp and crab meat.

RESTAURANT STARS ARE BORN: Thanks to "Sleepless in Seattle," two Baltimore restaurants are getting their big break. The Woman's Industrial Exchange and Francie's are both culinary stars in the romantic hit with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Diners at Francie's in Fells Point have been complimenting management there about how glitzy the restaurant looks in the movie.

"It's a real treat," general manager Kimberly George says of the attention. Her only regret: The stars never came in to eat.

Have news about local restaurants, chefs or clubs? Call (410) 332-6156 or write the Real Dish, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, 21278.

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