New tavern is heedful of Needful's breakfasts


April 05, 2001|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

Needful Things, the coffee shop at 2921 O'Donnell St. in Canton, has been sold and should be reopening this week as Coburn's Tavern and Grill. If you were used to stopping by Needful Things for your first meal of the day, not to worry. Coburn's is one of the few taverns in Baltimore to be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. (Owner-chef George Platis says he wasn't planning to serve breakfast until neighborhood folks begged him to.)

When Platis first came to Baltimore from Brooklyn, N.Y., he ran the Camden Club and has since worked in the kitchens of Foster's and Anastasia's. His specialty is regional American cuisine, but you'll find paella and seafood fra diablo on the menu as well. Signature dishes include crab pot pie and a veal and shrimp napoleon. Expect to pay between $10 (if you order a sandwich) and $40 a person at dinnertime.

Eventually, Platis says, he plans to do some tableside cooking in the small dining room. (It holds 22 tables.)

"People tell me I'm a cheerful guy," he explains. "And I like to talk while I cook."

Farewell to jr.

This Tuesday jr., the offshoot of Spike & Charlie's at 1501 Bolton St. in Bolton Hill, served its last meal. The Gjerde brothers, who owned the small, casual restaurant, say they hadn't been able to get a long-term commitment from the landlord.

Non-greasy Mexican fare

The new Baja Fresh in Hunt Valley is packing them in (it's on York Road just north of Valley View Farms). The image of Mexican food as fast and greasy has gotten a makeover in recent years - thanks in part to places like this popular California-based chain. Salsas, guacamole and just about everything else are made fresh daily on the premises. (Columbia got its own Baja Fresh a couple of months ago.)

Grill, not griddle

Hampden, which has more than its share of friendly neighborhood eateries, has yet another one in the new Sierra Grill at 1105 W. 36th St.

Owners Kelly Rindone and Todd Creager hail from this area originally but for the last 10 years lived in Arizona. So you'll find a definite Southwestern flair to their mostly American menu.

Most of the food - like the chicken, steak and burgers - is prepared on a grill. "That's grill, not griddle," says Rindone. "Some people don't know the difference."

Dinners are under $10, except for the rib eye steak ($13.50) and salmon ($11.50). There's also an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar for $6.75.

Sierra Grill is open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner.

Nina's adds entrees

Nina's coffee shop on the corner of Calvert and Centre streets is reinventing itself as a serious lunch place. Soon you'll be able to get entrees like crab cakes and teriyaki salmon as well as sandwiches, salads and sushi. And when the warmer weather gets here, look for locally made gourmet ice cream and Saturday hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (It's now open Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, Table Talk, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; fax to 410-783-2519; or e-mail to

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