Purple paint and Red Fish

Table Talk

August 22, 2002|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For months, the red-brick restaurant building stood forlornly vacant on the corner of Boston and Montford streets. Then, a few weeks ago, it flushed purple.

"The paint is called Midnight Mansion. It's supposed to be a gray-blue," says Michael Strati. But, as he discovered, you paint gray-blue on top of red brick, and it becomes ... purple.

So how come Strati named his new restaurant Red Fish? "I liked the name," he says. And, somehow the name Purple Fish doesn't have quite the right ring to it.

Whether it was the name or the color, business boomed as soon as the eatery opened its doors July 14.

"We got busy right off the bat," says Strati. "It's pretty amazing to open a restaurant with no sign, no advertising and already have people in for dinner three and four times a week for the first three weeks."

Strati says the location has something to do with that. It's where Weber's restaurant set up shop and developed a following in the early '90s, bringing many diners to the Canton area for the first time.

"They had a very fresh, contagious thing about what they were doing, and that's what we're trying to do," Strati says.

And then there's the food. "Modern Mediterranean," he calls it. Dishes with a Spanish, Italian, Greek and Moroccan bent are just some of what makes up the menu.

Red Fish is open for dinner from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. A Sunday brunch buffet is available from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Fine dining in a tavern

Another brand-new restaurant that's also going great guns in its first month of business is Ellicott City's Tiber River Tavern. It's the first venture into fine dining for partners Greg Tolker and Rick Shackelford, who own the G.L. Shacks grills in Catonsville and Ellicott City.

Tolker says Tiber River's building - at 3733 Old Columbia Pike - dictated the restaurant's style.

"It was built as a stable in 1840, and totally renovated," he says. "Any other concept than fine dining wouldn't suit the space at all."

Tolker says the 5,000-square-foot interior features stone walls, champagne-colored tablecloths and a 1930s mahogany bar downstairs, all of which give the place a "rustic warm feeling." Upstairs, you'll find a more casual bar.

But rather than the decor, it's the food - and its creator, executive chef Rob Rehnart - that Tolker is particularly proud of.

He says one of the most popular entrees is the Coho salmon pinwheel, served with an herb cheese and spinach filling on an apple-soaked cedar plank ($18.95). Another hit is the Maryland rockfish, finished with an oyster and prosciutto ham beurre blanc ($19.95).

A light-fare menu, which also serves as the lunch menu, includes more traditional pub fare - chicken wings, burgers, a grilled salmon BLT.

Tiber River Tavern is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week and will start serving Sunday brunch at 10 a.m. Labor Day weekend.

Kudos for Rudys'

Rudys' 2900 received quite a pat on the back recently. The American Culinary Federation, which claims to be the largest association of chefs in the United States, just gave its Achievement in Culinary Excellence Award to the Finksburg restaurant. Among the six restaurants around the country given that prize, Rudys' 2900 was the only one in the mid-Atlantic region.

Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please fax suggestions to Sloane Brown at 410-675-3451, or e-mail her at sloane@livetabletalk.com.

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