Off to crab heaven

TABLE TALK

April 27, 2000|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,Sun Restaurant Critic

The A-1 Crab Haven at the corner of Old Eastern Avenue and Back River Neck Road may not have the landmark status that Haussner's did, but for many Baltimoreans its closing tomorrow after 54 years will be every bit as sad. The owner, Mike Pangalis, has decided to retire and has sold the property to a private developer.

Known locally for its steamed crabs and traditional Maryland seafood dishes, A-1 also has an art collection: some 1,000 clown figurines, portraits and other clown memorabilia that will be auctioned off tomorrow at the restaurant, starting at 5 p.m.

A-1 has been family-owned and -run since Pangalis took over the restaurant in 1955. All four of his children have worked with him waiting tables, tending bar, helping in the kitchen and managing the restaurant.

The Bicycle bistro

Think of it as a bicycle built for two. The Bicycle, a new bistro scheduled to open at 1444 Light St. in mid-May, is the creation of British chef Barry Rumsey and photographer Deborah Mazzoleni. The two live above the bistro with their 5-year-old. (Another child is on the way.)

"Barry is a cyclist," says Mazzoleni, explaining the name. "When you get on a bicycle you have a sense of freedom, it's healthy and it's fun. We hope [eating here] will be all that."

The bistro's interior is playful, done in bright colors such as lime, lemon, mango and eggplant.

Rumsey has been running The Kitchen in the Cross Street Market for the past 18 months, where he's been turning out gourmet soups and exotic sandwiches and wraps. The Bicycle's menu will be much more ambitious. Rumsey is French-trained, with an interest in Latin and Asian cuisines. Elements of all of those will show up on the new menu.

Open for dinner only Tuesdays through Saturdays, the bistro will serve beer and wine. The owners wanted to be sure there were plenty of good, affordable choices, so the wine list offers "18 for $18."

Shannon's expands

If you've had trouble getting into Shannon's Saloon on a busy night, give it another try. The popular Ellicott City restaurant has added 40 seats to its new, larger dining room, and that's not the only improvement. Owner Buzz Bosica says he's tripled the size of the kitchen as well.

Shannon's opened in 1982 as a small tavern serving cold sandwiches. Four years later it expanded into a full-service restaurant.

"We're not a white-tablecloth restaurant, but we feel our food is white-tablecloth," says Bosica, whose executive chef, Brian Malone, came from Legal Sea Foods in Boston.

Light fare at the Charles

Just when you thought they might not have enough to do, Spike and Charlie Gjerde -- the brothers who brought us Spike & Charlie's, jr., the Atlantic and the new version of the Joy America Cafe -- are opening up a bar that will serve light fare at the Charles Theatre.

It will be open in time for the Maryland Film Festival, which runs tonight through Sunday.

From the mail box...

Re: Noise

"When will restaurant owners learn that their patrons do not come to be entertained with loud and mostly offensive music piped through the loud speaker systems. ... I hope others who agree will join me in complaining to the Maryland Restaurant Association." (Leonard S. Jacobson)

Re: Fried shrimp

"I hope you can give me some guidance with the problem I am having: Discovering establishments that offer exceptional fried shrimp. ... Please offer me choices for excellent fried shrimp, ranging in prices from low to high. I will be eternally grateful for your help in this Worthy Cause." (Mike Musar)

I'm still working on the list.

Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, Table Talk, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278; fax to 410-783-2502; or e-mail to elizabeth.large@baltsun.com.

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