Harlem's famed chicken may be coming

TABLE TALK

September 12, 1996|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

Love that smothered chicken? Well, good news. Baltimore may be getting its own Sylvia's early in '97. The East Coast's best-known black-owned restaurant is so successful it's expanding from its home base in Harlem to Atlanta, where a Sylvia's is opening in November. Baltimore is probably next, according to Sylvia Woods' son Van.

"The demographics are right," he says, for a Sylvia's in Baltimore. The Southern-food operation caters primarily to African-Americans but attracts people of all races. The Woodses have already been here checking out sites.

Less is more

"Sometimes when you take away the choices, it makes it easier for people," says Doreen Ercolano, owner of Gemelli Desserts (25 Allegheny Ave., Towson), which until a few weeks ago was a deli as well as a bakery.

After two years of trying to make the deli part of her operation as successful as the bakery, Ercolano closed for renovations for 10 days recently. When she reopened with a new lunch counter and more space for tables, she started offering two (but only two) lunch specials a day. They might be, for instance, homemade chili with cheese bread and a chicken salad sandwich. (All the breads are Gemelli's own.) So far, she says, customers seem to love the limited menu.

Trendy bread pudding

I've come across a lot of good bread puddings lately -- the old-fashioned dessert that's become as trendy as tiramisu. Cafe Hon's version with warm caramel sauce comes to mind, as does the Rusty Scupper's with sun-dried cherries, apples and bourbon sauce. But my current favorite can be found at the Polo Grill. It's warm and light (if "light bread pudding" isn't an oxymoron), studded with melted chocolate chips like a hot, soft Tollhouse cookie. The vanilla sauce doesn't hurt either.

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.

Pub Date: 9/12/96

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