Phone what used to be Mick's in Towson Commons and someone is likely to answer, "Hello. The Restaurant Formerly Known as Mick's." That's because the owner, Morton's Restaurant Group Inc., just closed the restaurants in the chain. This particular Mick's hasn't been converted yet to what it will be in a month or two: a J. P. Henry's -- the new local chain started by Henry Pertman and Jeff Pressman, formerly of Henry & Jeff's, and Matt Bowman and Howard Rosenberg, formerly of the Chart House.
As of now, the Restaurant Formerly Known As Mick's is open for business with much the same menu as Mick's had, but with daily specials that reflect J. P. Henry's menu. (Until renovations are finished, the Towson kitchen won't be able to handle the full menu.)
Bel Air has had a J. P. Henry's for about six weeks now, at 306 S. Main St. Sometime in April a third J. P. Henry's is scheduled to open in Homewood at 3105 St. Paul St., formerly the site of the Homewood Deli. All three restaurants are family-oriented, with 380-item supermenus.
Meanwhile, Tom Baldwin, chief financial officer of Morton's, says the company decided to close the Mick's restaurants to concentrate on its upscale chains, Morton's of Chicago (one of these steakhouses will be opening in the downtown Sheraton in June or July) and Bertolini's, which serves northern Italian food. (The closest one is in Rockville.)
Cars and crab cakes
Marty Insley says he sells crab cakes and cars. The Annapolis car dealer recently opened Backfins at 1803 West St., which he describes as "an upscale sports bar and restaurant." The signature dish is, of course, the crab cake; but the surprise is that there's no back fin in it. Backfins' crab cake is made with jumbo lump and very little filler, Insley says. It sells for $20.95. If crab isn't your thing, Backfins has fresh fish specials every day, as well as steaks and pasta.
Of course you can get seafood at the Crew's Quarters in Essex, but word of mouth is spreading about Chef Jose Villanueva's Spanish offerings: mussels in green sauce, tapas, paella, a creamy Mediterranean seafood soup. Spanish food not your cup of tea? The international menu includes Brazilian, Italian and Greek dishes as well as traditional American steaks and seafood. Crew's Quarters, 534 Riverside Drive, is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.