Michael Rork becomes executive chef at Polo Grill

TABLE TALK

May 10, 2001|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

Celebrity chef Michael Rork wasn't able to work his magic on Peerce's Plantation last year when he came on board as consulting executive chef. He'll have an easier job of it as executive chef of the Polo Grill (4 W. University Parkway), a job he took over last week. Tim Walker is running the kitchen day-to-day as his chef de cuisine.

Rork made his name in Baltimore at the deluxe Hampton's in the Harbor Court Hotel. Seven years ago he left for a quieter life on the Eastern Shore, opening Michael Rork's Town Dock Restaurant in St. Michaels.

He just can't stay away from Baltimore, though. Polo Grill's owner, Lenny Kaplan, says Rork has committed to being here 40 to 45 hours a week in the winter and 20 to 25 hours a week in the summer, which is high season for his shore restaurant.

Rork's mission, says Kaplan, is "to get the Polo Grill back to where it used to be. It won't be tricky, just the kind of food he's known for." (That would be contemporary American cuisine.) "He's changing an item here, an item there," adds Kaplan. "In a couple of weeks you'll see some real changes."

No deal for Ruby Lounge

In March, it looked as if the Ruby Lounge (802 N. Charles St.) were going to have new owners. Mary Soto and David Smith, who took it over from Donna Crivello when she decided to focus on her Donna's coffee bars, were ready to sell the chic little restaurant for personal reasons.

"They offered us a deal that was too good to be true," says Soto now. "And it was. We had a contract, but the financing fell through."

Soto, the chef as well as an owner, has been away from the restaurant for six weeks because of surgery. She's back now, and she and her partner are planning to keep the restaurant after all. Meanwhile, Soto says, they've put tables and chairs out front and have introduced a new spring menu with fish, crab, asparagus and strawberries - "Everything that spring brings."

Breakfast at the Exchange

The Woman's Industrial Exchange, that Baltimore institution located at 333 N. Charles St., is now serving breakfast from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as the chicken salad and aspic and other luncheon food that made it famous. And don't say nothing ever changes for the better. The Exchange's yummy ice cream desserts are now made with Moxley's homemade ice cream. (This is the ice cream shop in Towson.)

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 elizabeth.large@baltsun.com.

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