Hotter than a Fourth of July firecracker? Well, maybe not. But spicy food will be on the menu when Baltimore gets a new Indian restaurant around the Fourth. The India Cafe is scheduled to open at 201 N. Charles St. in the spot where Strapazza used to be.
The space has been completely renovated, with seating for about 80. The new restaurant will serve both lunch and dinner, and will have free parking after 5 p.m. The menu includes lots of seafood, with dishes like tandoori pompano and kingfish masala, as well as the traditional curries, biryanis and vegetarian offerings.
To salt or not to salt
In response to a reader's e-mail published last week, I got this reply from Brian Boston, owner/chef of the Milton Inn:
"The practice of not placing salt and pepper on our tables started because guests would oversalt food before tasting my creations. They would then send back an entrM-ie they ruined. I don't presume to know how much salt each guest requires, but them having to ask for it prevents this problem because once salt is asked for, it becomes the patron's responsibility and takes the guesswork out of who oversalted the food. This practice seems to be working well for us as we do not have any returned food due to excessive saltiness.
"We are more than happy to bring salt and pepper to the table upon request. As far as pepper is concerned, it is our practice to offer freshly ground pepper, rather than pepper that has been sitting in a shaker. This will alter the flavor as it is exposed to light and air."
And in response to my list of places to eat outdoors, another reader mentioned the Manor Tavern, which has terrace seating for both lunch and dinner.
I don't mean to sound grumpy, but once again Maryland gets ignored in Food & Wine's restaurant issue, which is on the stands now. No, we aren't mentioned in the list of America's best new chefs or the restaurant poll winners from "North America's top cities." (Closest is Washington, where Kinkead's on Pennsylvania Avenue got the Best Restaurant nod and Olives on K Street took Best New Restaurant.)
Good news, though. The magazine does point out that the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels has osso buco on the mutt menu (as in food for guests' dogs).
Also on newsstands now is the July issue of Consumer Reports, in which readers rate 67 restaurant chains. The magazine got more than 68,000 responses to its 1999 survey. Ruth's Chris came in first in the overall ratings and Planet Hollywood was last.
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 410-783-2505; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.