And the winners are ...


May 09, 2002|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Baltimore eateries - and their owners - nabbed top honors at the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Annual Awards Gala last week. "Restaurateur of the Year" went to Steve De Castro - owner of four Ruth's Chris steakhouses, as well as the Havana Club, Eurasian Harbor and Babalu Grill.

The Bicycle was named winner of the Diners Choice Award, new this year. For the first time, restaurant fans could go online (www.marylan and vote for their favorite new place in which to dine out - a restaurant that has been open only since 2000.

First runner-up - the aforementioned Babalu Grill. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse claimed the second runner-up position.

Some old foodie favorites - Di Pasquale Family Italian Foods, Restaurante Tio Pepe and Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop - were among those inducted into RAM's Hospitality Hall of Honor.

Thai times two

The popular Bethesda restaurant Bangkok Garden has opened at a second location - in Columbia's Oakland Mills Village Center. Manager Tom Laohapant says he offers the same Thai menu there as in Bethesda - with food that's different from what many local Thai restaurants serve.

"This is real Thai food," Laohapant says. "It's not sweet [with a Chinese influence], the way many American Thai restaurants make it. That's why a lot of Thai people come to this restaurant."

Another reason could be the prices. Most entrees cost under $10.

Bangkok Garden is at 5810 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Mucho Mexicano

Some changes have been made and more are under way at Federal Hill's No Way Jose Cafe (38 E. Cross St.). New owners Jennifer McMullan, Brent Fleming and Andy Gmitte have just opened the second-floor dining room, after completely renovating that area. And renovations have begun on the menu as well.

"We're getting rid of a lot of items that don't go with our Mexican theme," McMullan says, "like pasta dishes and sandwiches."

And they're beefing up the Mexican fare by adding more tacos, burritos, quesadillas and enchiladas - as well as expanding the list of specialty margaritas to include flavors like mango and raspberry.

"We're also offering a nacho of the week," McMullan says, "like Hawaiian nachos, buffalo chicken or pizza nachos. ... We're a restaurant/bar, and we want to be a place you can get good, quality food at a cheap price." Most of the entrees run between $5 and $13.

No Way Jose Cafe's hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Sunday suppers

After years of being closed Sunday nights, the lights are on now at Canton's Helen's Garden (2908 O'Donnell St). Previously open only for Sunday brunch (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Helen's is now serving dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

However, co-owner Ed Scherer says he and partner Tom Looney aren't offering their usual nightly specials on Sunday. Yet.

"We want to get our feet wet and smooth out all the kinks first," he explains. Sounds like Scherer's mom - the celebrated Helen - taught him well.

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