New look, new menu at Boston Market

TABLE TALK

Clam bakes at McCormick & Schmick's

September 19, 2002|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Next time you pop into a Boston Market, you might want to settle in for dinner. At least, that's what the management of the roast-chicken chain is hoping you'll do.

All 10 of the chain's Baltimore-area restaurants have been given a face-lift, designed to make customers want to sit and eat instead of pick up and dash. The old white-walled, carryout feel is gone now, company spokeswoman Alyson Kim says. Each Boston Market now boasts soft lighting to accent its new, warm yellows, greens and blues.

Kim adds that customers also will find booth seating and padded chairs, as well as partitions set up to offer more dining privacy.

"Customers would say, `We love your homestyle food, but the dining room doesn't match that effect,'" says Kim. The company hopes there's now a better compatibility between the food and decor.

The Boston Market menu has changed also. Newly added is a grilled chicken breast. It comes as a sandwich or entree fixed your choice of three ways - grilled; teriyaki-style with pineapple; or with barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon. Each entree includes two side orders.

There also are the new grilled chicken Caesar salad, Oriental grilled chicken salad and Southwest grilled chicken salad, all under $7.

Boston Markets are in Baltimore, Timonium, Severna Park, Columbia, Woodlawn, Owings Mills, Pikesville, Catonsville, Ellicott City and Glen Burnie.

Kim says the design and menu changes are part of a nationwide effort that has been moving along state by state.

Summer clam bakes

McCormick & Schmick's is giving summer a big send-off with its summer clam bakes. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Sunday left in September, you can eat outside on the seafood restaurant's patio and groove on tunes by Jr. Cline and the Recliners.

Think of the entertainment as music to digest food by. Because there's a lot to digest: lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, corn and potatoes, all for $19.95. The regular menu, and steamed crabs, are also available.

You'll find McCormick & Schmick's on Pier 5 at the Inner Harbor.

Neighborhood hot spots

Bon Appetit magazine's annual September restaurant issue this year focuses on favorite neighborhood restaurants across the United States. Four of those listed can be found in Maryland. They are the Ambassador Dining Room, Hull Street Blues Cafe and Vespa - all in Baltimore - and Phillips Annapolis Harbor.

Bon Appetit's Amara Staffanell says the magazine's editors polled some food writers (including The Sun's Elizabeth Large), as well as its staff and family and friends of staff.

There were 10 determining factors in the choices. Criteria such as: When there's no food in your kitchen, you're rather eat there than order a pizza; it's the first place you recommend when someone from out of town asks for a good choice; you can eat as well on a Tuesday night as on a Saturday night; your kids aren't treated like aliens; the chairs are comfortable; and there's no drive-through window.

While you `wait'

Next time you think your waiter could brush up on his or her serving skills, you might recommend that he or she read a book. The Waiting Game - The Essential Guide for Wait Staff and Managers (Ten Speed Press, $16.95) is chock-full of all sorts of tips for waiters. Such as? Explaining food terms, serving wine, setting a proper table and dealing with difficult customers. The book was written by three Texans: Mike Kirkham, Peggy Weiss and Bill Crawford. Kirkham was a waiter for years and now manages an Austin restaurant owned by Weiss. Crawford hasn't been in the restaurant business, but he has co-written several books.

Even we restaurant patrons can pick up a few tips. For example, the internal temperature of a steak ordered medium-rare should be 135 degrees. The outside of the meat should feel like the temperature of your chin.

Ooh. This could turn some of us into real restaurant terrors. You know the adage: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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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