The ad for the new Elliott Street Bar & Grille (3123 Elliott St.) said "formerly Dooby's," which might puzzle some who remember that a Cuban restaurant, La Vida Loca, opened last spring where Dooby's had been. La Vida Loca's life was measured in weeks, not months. It quietly closed, and after extensive renovation a casual, comfortable place along the lines of Dooby's opened its doors in December. The bar is in front; a white-tablecloth restaurant is in back.
The chef, in fact, was at Dooby's in the months before it closed. In his new kitchen, David Gutman has created a menu that emphasizes seafood, with Creole salmon and Oriental tuna two of his signature dishes. There is usually a daily special like shrimp, mussels, lobster meat, scallops and crab in a Chianti marinara over pasta. Prices start at $10.95 for vegetarian pastas and run to $22.95 for pistachio-encrusted lamb.
Elliott Street is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and daily for dinner.
Beyond skewered meats
The Afghan Kabab House (1019 Light St.) was due to open in mid-September, but for obvious reasons the owners decided to wait. Now the Federal Hill restaurant is up and running, with much more on the menu than just skewered meats and vegetables.
You can get marinated lamb and rice with carrots and raisins, meatballs and potatoes with Afghan spices, steamed pastries stuffed with ground meat in yogurt sauce and several vegetarian dishes like eggplant baked with potatoes, onions and yogurt. Two soups are made fresh daily.
The Kabab House, open for lunch and dinner daily, is small. It seats just 35 people. Entrees range from $9 to $12.50, and major credit cards are accepted.
Bargain beef Wellington
Allissa's is a pleasant little shopping-center eatery at 1020 W. 41st St., next to a Super Fresh. It serves pizza and inexpensive Italian-American food, and has specials like all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs, salad and garlic bread for $7 on Tuesday nights.
But every kitchen has to reach for the stars. Allissa's Valentine's Day Specials menu includes beef Wellington (yes, made with puff pastry) salad, broccoli and baked potato for $14.99.
So you want to be a critic?
If you want to be a restaurant critic, you can take part in the current Zagat (rhymes with "kill the cat," the publicist once told me) Survey. In return, you'll receive a copy of the 2002/2003 Washington D.C./Baltimore guide when it comes out in August.
To get a questionnaire, call 800-333-3421, send an e-mail with your name and address to email@example.com, or mail a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to Zagat Survey, 1227 25th St. N.W., Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20037.
The deadline for returning the questionnaire is Feb. 25.
Dine out and do good
Mark Thursday, March 14, on your calendar as a night to eat out. This is the date set for Dining Out for Life, the fund-raising event to provide meals for home-bound people with AIDS. Closer to the event, I'll mention how you can find out which restaurants are participating. Meanwhile, to volunteer to help, call the Maryland Community Kitchen at 410-327-3420.
Sample wine and food
Thursday at Donna's in the Village of Cross Keys is enoteca night, from 5:30 to 7:30. An enoteca is an Italian wine bar where you learn about wines and sample small piatti (plates) to match. Owner Donna Crivello and her partner, Alan Hirsch, will be the hosts. The dates are tonight (Chardonnays), Feb. 21 (Affordable French), Feb. 28 (Wines of Southern Italy) and March 7 (Tasting Australia). The cost is $10 per sampling of four wines.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.