Chester River Inn, one of the best, is closing


February 20, 1997|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

When people ask me what my favorite restaurant is, certainly one of the ones I always mention is Mark Henry's Chester River Inn on Kent Island. Not any longer. The main dining room closed last Saturday; the bar downstairs will serve its last meal Feb. 28.

Henry was one of Baltimore's most celebrated chefs while he ran the Milton Inn's kitchen for almost seven years. He left to open his own place on the Eastern Shore in July 1994. Perhaps because of the location, perhaps because of the no-frills decor, the Chester River Inn never became the financial success it should have, given the magnificent food.

Now, close to the end of the restaurant's lease and with Henry and his wife, Barbara, "suffering from burnout," as he puts it, he plans to take some time off and then consider his options. Several people have called with possible jobs, he says, some closer to Baltimore than his current location.

Ambassador departs

And speaking of closings, the Ambassador Dining Room at Canterbury Road and 39th Street has once again gone under. That must be some sort of record -- it had been open months, not years, in its last incarnation.

The apartment management had undertaken to run the restaurant, which property manager Steve Sebree says just didn't work. Talks are under way with several operators to get it reopened.

With all its charm, the Ambassador had two problems it could never overcome: parking (or rather very little parking) and visibility (or rather no visibility). Look for a new entrance way and a parking solution next time round, says Sebree.

Pimella's aims high

"I want to be the Dean & DeLuca of Baltimore," says Pamela Bessenecker, owner of the new Pimella's Market Cafe in Federal Hill. A lofty ambition, but she's off to a good start with her pretty shop and inviting California cuisine. Here you can get sandwiches such as turkey with homemade mango chutney, salads (pasta, sweet potato, Venetian chicken), chick-pea tapenade, fresh soups, specialty coffee drinks and a variety of desserts. Chef Colleen Bock has just started adding a couple of entrees to the daily menu, such as poached salmon and cheese lasagna.

Pimella's is at 1117-1121 S. Charles St. Hours are Mondays through Fridays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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