As the World turns: Disagreement closes downtown cafe

THE REAL DISH

January 23, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Has the world stopped?

If the "world" you're talking about happens to be World CafeXBar, it has -- for the moment at least.

A dispute between the landlord and the tenants has closed the ethnic restaurant at 2 E. Lombard St. since Jan., says Gregg Mason, one of the restaurant partners.

Attorneys for either side declined to describe the cause of the disagreement, saying only they are in the process of negotiating resolution.

No word yet on when the restaurant, known for its international fare and funky decor, may reopen.

TEX MEX COMES TO CANTON: The battle of the fajitas is raging around town.

Last week, yet another new Mexican restaurant made its debut in Baltimore, giving competition to newcomers like Lista's in Fells Point and veterans like Mencken's Cultured Pearl in Southwest Baltimore.

This one -- Nacho Mama's at 2907 O'Donnell St. in Canton -- bills itself as a Tex-Mex hangout serving quesadillas, fajitas, burritos, tacos, black-bean soup and other fiery dishes.

(As for alcoholic beverages, the restaurant serves only beer and wine.)

Owned by Patrick McCusker and Darryl Elliott, who also have the eatery next door called Pizza Togo's, Nacho Mama's goes easy on the sombrero-style decor, opting instead for a more eclectic motif: Ocean City beach signs, Colts memorabilia and hand-painted tables.

The partners couldn't entirely resist the Mexican flair, though, and did have chili peppers painted on the floor.

"We don't want to be a college bar or a fine-food restaurant," says chef Todd Schulte. "We're just trying to be a casual place for people to come."

Hours are from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.

FIRESIDE CHOW: In dreary January, nothing is more soothing than dining by a crackling fire.

Others share our preference for the hearth, it seems, because restaurateurs report that fireside tables at restaurants are as coveted as toilet paper at the supermarket these days.

"There are very few people who don't ask to sit next to the fireplace this time of year," says Mark Henry, executive chef of the Milton Inn in Sparks. Although the rustic country place has five fireplaces, even it has trouble keeping up with demand.

And during frigid winter nights, diners often do more than simply admire the orange glow.

"On really cold days, people come in and warm their hands and their derrieres before they sit down," says JoeAnne Whitely, an owner of Gypsy's Cafe in Southwest Baltimore, which has two fireplaces.

At Peerce's Plantation, diners can throw their brandy snifters into the fireplace for good luck -- as long as they first order an $85-a-glass cognac, says Drew Sinnott, catering director for the Phoenix restaurant. (While a few glasses were shattered in December, he didn't recall anyone splurging so far this month.)

SUCCESS STORIES: There's more good news for the Milton Inn. In the current issue of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, it scored big, being ranked the 14th best restaurant in the country, according to a poll of nearly 7,000 readers. Not too far behind was Hampton's, which came in at No. 37.

In the 1994 Zagat Survey of America's Top Restaurants, the Prime Rib was ranked the best in Baltimore, being described as a "supper club [that] combines some of the best qualities of a [New York] steak house with delicious Old Maryland seafood."

ON THE LUNCH FRONT: In the mood for Chinese, but your lunch date wants Italian? Craving a salad? Feeling like soup and a sandwich? These are all within the realm of possibility at Victoria's Cafe & Restaurant, 12 N. Calvert St.

The recently opened breakfast and lunch spot -- which serves a hot buffet with Chinese and Italian food -- is owned by D.C. restaurant veteran Victoria Pang and her husband, Tony. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The eatery, located near the Mitchell Courthouse, is the former site of Treate's, which filed for bankruptcy after Myung Gin Shin, the previous owner, was killed during a robbery several years ago.

LET 'EM EAT CHICKEN: There's no accounting for taste. In recent months, chef Andre Gamard, who formerly worked in Bethesda, was wooed to City Lights at Harborplace to create a sophisticated French and New American menu. In at least one way, he's found diners still prefer standard fare.

Although he now serves duck confit and grilled salmon with roasted ginger, neither compares to his hottest seller: chicken pot pie.

*

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

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