A jewel of a loungeA hamburger at Donna's? Yes, now that...

TABLE TALK

November 09, 1995|By Elizabeth Large

A jewel of a lounge

A hamburger at Donna's? Yes, now that the Mount Vernon restaurant has become the Ruby Lounge. The space across the hall from Donna's Coffee Bar has been transformed into a sophisticated bistro, if that's not a contradiction in terms -- still stylish but more informal and more comfortable. The lively menu is "inspired by local ethnic markets," says owner Donna Crivello. (With a hamburger and french fries thrown in for good measure.)

"The emphasis is on 'lounge,' a place to meet friends, relax, have a drink and some great food," adds co-owner Alan Hirsch. Happy hour with reduced drink prices stretches from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

As for the food, prices have been lowered ($7 to $15); and you can get specialties like grilled flank steak marinated in lime and tequila, chicken and sausage stew over polenta, and spicy shrimp and Asian vegetables on couscous. The Ruby Lounge is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner and late-night only.

Sophisticated bar food

Everybody is getting into the act -- the bar food act, that is. Now Linwood's, known for its sophisticated setting and food, has introduced "Au Bar," a new bar food menu with brick-oven pizzas, sandwiches and moderately priced entrees. Thursdays and Fridays there will also be live jazz piano.

Eat your vegetables

Mr. Chan Szechuan Restaurant is a favorite among Baltimore vegetarians because of creations like orange spicy tofu, non-fried dumplings and mustard greens with tempeh. Funk's Democratic Coffee Spot serves eclectic vegetarian food. One World Cafe has a mostly vegetarian, international menu. The Vegetable Garden in Rockville specializes in an all-vegan feast of vegetable, tofu and mock meat dishes.

These restaurants and more are highlighted in the Vegetarian Resource Group's Guide to Restaurant and Stores in Maryland Offering Vegetarian Food. For a copy, send five first-class stamps to the Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore 21203.

Count your blessings: work-free feast

You don't like the idea of eating at a restaurant on Thanksgiving, but you don't feel like killing yourself cooking on your day off. Now there's another choice. Several caterers around town are offering to deliver the holiday meal.

I particularly liked the sound of the Classic Catering People's contemporary Thanksgiving menu: sweet potato soup with buttered pecans, roast turkey with giblet gravy and herbed oyster stuffing, root vegetable mash, haricots verts, cranberry walnut salsa, buttermilk biscuits and dried cherry scones, flourless chocolate cake with chestnut mousse filling and deep dish pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream.

The Classic Catering People, which is affiliated with the Pavilion at the Walters, offers two different Thanksgiving dinners for 10 to 12: traditional ($99.99) and contemporary ($150). That's $15 or less apiece.

Of course, you'll still have to do the dishes.

Power lunching at bargain prices

Cafe Troia in Towson, which specializes in traditional Italian cuisine, has a new "Executive Lunch" for $7.95. The fixed-price ,, menu features daily specials and includes soup or salad, a choice of pastas (a low-fat choice is available every day) and a soda or coffee.

Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, Table Talk, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Or fax to (410) 783-2519.

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