The Loco Hombre makes sane move into Roland Park

THE REAL DISH

April 17, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Our search for the perfect fajita continues with this news: Mexican food is making its way into Roland Park.

Classic Catering People, the union of Polo Grill owners Gail and Lenny Kaplan and Ansela, Michael and Edward Dopkin, is expanding its food fiefdom, having taken over what was once Roland Park Cafe. The group is currently turning the space at 413 W. Cold Spring Lane (near Alonso's) into Loco Hombre, a Mexican/Southwestern restaurant scheduled to open in late May.

The name, which means Crazy Man, has real meaning for Edward Dopkin, president of the business.

"Everybody thought I was crazy to get into this," he says with a laugh.

Crazy and smart, we would say.

With Mexican food heating up the American palate and Roland Park lacking in casual dining spots, it seems a savvy decision for the caterers, who also run the Pavilion at the Walters and Class to Go Cafe, a take-out near the Inner Harbor.

After three years of looking along Cold Spring Lane -- and traveling to Mexican restaurants in Dallas, New York and Chicago -- Mr. Dopkin finally found the space he wanted several months ago.

Tom Power, formerly of the Four Seasons in Washington and now a chef with the business, designed the menu with input from the owners. 9The 35 entrees, salads and appetizers are priced between $5 and $14.

There will be Mexican favorites like fajitas, burritos and tacos, but Mr. Dopkin says presentation will help distinguish the food.

After eating at dozens of Mexican restaurants, he came away with one conclusion: "You seemed to see refried beans, refried beans and refried beans. And they are not pretty. . . . This is not a Taco Bell or Chi Chi's. We wanted the presentation to be pretty."

The visual centerpiece of the room will be a modern desert mural created by artist Richard Sharp and painted by students from the Baltimore School for the Arts.

The 35 entrees, salads and appetizers are priced between $5 and $14.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. (Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday.)

DRIVING THROUGH THE '50s: Baltimore has joined Detroit and San Diego as one of only three cities in the country to have "Classic Drive-Thru Only" McDonald's. Two weeks ago, a '50s-themed drive-through opened at the corner of Patapsco Avenue and Annapolis Road in South Baltimore.

The original single arch is the highlight of the decor, unlike the more modern double arch used today.

With Americans more rushed for time and more nostalgic for the past, McDonald's decided to introduce the concept last year, says spokeswoman Kathy List. Nearly 50 percent of its business already comes from drive-through orders.

Although you can get a Big Mac, Egg McMuffin and other staples, the menu is limited because of the smaller kitchen. If you want a burger of the month (April is Bacon Swiss, we just happen to know), a fish filet or a breakfast biscuit sandwich, you'll have to go down Patapsco Avenue a mile to the next McDonald's.

For the carless, there's walk-up window service. And should you decide that eating your McChicken Sandwich while squished behind the steering wheel isn't ideal, there are 32 seats on the patio outside.

Hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

EMPTY BOWLS, FULL STOMACHS: The Maryland Food Committee may be calling its gala Empty Bowls, but dishes won't be that way once Henry & Jeff's, the Silver Diner and Innovative Gourmet get their hands on them.

They are among nearly 20 restaurants and caterers who will be donating food for the benefit on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Boumi Temple, 4900 N. Charles St.

Although feeding the hungry -- and not feeding attendees -- will be emphasized, guests will be treated to what sounds like an elegant variety of entrees. Henry & Jeff's is preparing Thai chicken salad, the Silver Diner is providing dessert -- banana cream pie, strawberry shortcake and brownies -- and Innovative Gourmet is making grilled Oriental turkey with sun-dried fruit relish and green peppercorn mustard sauce.

There'll also be a dance performance, a silent auction of artwork (including handcrafted empty bowls) and roving entertainers.

Tickets are $100. Call (410) 366-0600 Ext. 121 for more information. Incidentally, food not consumed will be donated to Second Helping, a program that distributes leftovers to soup kitchens and shelters in the city.

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

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