I never understood why Stella's (1009 W. 36th St.) in Hampden didn't do better. Denise Whiting, who also owns Cafe Hon across the street, opened the cute little Italian restaurant in fTC 1996, then closed it the next summer when business slacked off, then reopened it last winter. Now she's sold it to Suzie Hong, owner of Suzie's Soba in the Belvedere.
Hong fell in love with the location because of the porch in back. She's hired a landscape architect to fill it with plants and flowers and create a decor for the restaurant that's "very natural but trendy."
Although her Belvedere location does well at lunchtime, she's never been able to generate much dinner business. So she'll move to Hampden in the evening, and the new Suzie's Soba will be open for dinner only. "I'll be working 12 or 13 hours a day," she says, "But that's OK -- I'm young."
Look for lots of noodle dishes and maki (seaweed rolls), grilled fish and Korean specialties in the new location. It should open by mid-July.
Expanding Classic Catering
Classic Catering People has been in the news recently because part-owner Edward Dopkin has taken over Alonso's bar and restaurant. With much less fuss, the company has just opened the Greystone Grille at Greystone Golf Course in Baltimore County. The folks at Classic Catering People have in the past brought you Loco Hombre, Nates and Leons and various coffee bars. They are also one of Baltimore's largest caterers. The grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with casual food like deli sandwiches, crab cakes, chili and salads.
When a colleague told me the new executive chef of the soon-to-be opened ESPN Zone in the Inner Harbor had last cooked for the Queen of England, it seemed a bit of a comedown -- no offense, SportsCenter.
The truth isn't quite so amazing, but it does sound as if food isn't going to be as secondary as it is at most theme restaurants. Mark Grimes was trained at Claridge's in London where members of the Royal Family often dine. He graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He's worked as a sous chef at a five-diamond hotel in New Orleans, as a chef at the Pump Room and Maggiano's in Chicago and as a corporate executive chef for an international company.
Problem with wine
A reader wrote recently asking if I had a list of restaurants where it's OK to bring your own wine -- even if they have a liquor license. "We're not just trying to save money," she says, "We're so often disappointed with the selections of wines at good restaurants."
While I don't know of any such listing, many high-end restaurants do let their customers bring their own wines. Expect to pay a corkage fee of as much as $10 for the privilege. You should call the restaurant in advance and ask about its policy so you won't have the experience the reader had: "We received such a cold shoulder from everyone (after the waitress made a big fuss of calling the manager over to loudly discuss our request), we won't do it again. . . . We love that restaurant, but hate their wines."
Pub Date: 6/11/98