Mandoragora finds a niche

TABLE TALK

October 17, 2002|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A new restaurant in Fells Point is offering itself as a halfway point between the area's pubs and fine-dining places. Mandoragora - named for an herb that folks in medieval times believed had magical powers - opened its doors on Aliceanna Street a month ago.

With upscale eateries such as Kali's Court and Louisiana proving to him that there's a market for something more than pub food in Fells Point, Mandoragora owner Fred Khosravi says he set out to offer a casual restaurant that appealed to upper-middle-class professionals.

"I wanted to offer good-quality food for reasonable prices; not a special-occasion place, but someplace [professionals] can go regularly and enjoy good food in a pleasant atmosphere," Khosravi says.

That food includes light fare such as a burger and fries ($6.50); and sauteed eggplant simmered with ground lamb, garnished with crispy fried onions, white sauce and walnuts, and served on focaccia ($8.50).

Entrees range from a crab cake ($21.50) and New York strip ($14.75) to pan-seared swordfish ($10.50) and tomato steamed basmati rice with grilled chicken, goat cheese and basil ($9).

Khosravi says he wanted Mandoragora's atmosphere to be more casual than the finer dining spots. So he complemented the eatery's exposed-brick, original hardwood floors and antique tin ceiling with mustard-yellow walls. He also outfitted almost the entire place with bar tables and chairs.

"I see younger professionals who appreciate the charm and history here on the East Coast, but they enjoy wearing Dockers and tennis shirts for a casual dinner," he says.

Mandoragora is at 1703 Aliceanna St. Monday through Friday, it's open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dinner. Saturday and Sunday, the hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Obrycki's on `Jeopardy!'

The answer: Obrycki's Crab House & Seafood Restaurant. And the question is: What Baltimore eating establishment was the subject of a question on a recent broadcast of the television game show Jeopardy?

Obrycki's co-owner Cheri Cernak says the Fells Point restaurant was mentioned on the Sept. 25 show, under the category "Eating Your Way Across the USA."

Host Alex Trebek's answer: "At Obrycki's in Baltimore, you can feast on this in a savory soup, cocktails or cake." The question - as any Baltimorean worth his Old Bay knows - was "What are crabs?"

"We don't really know how [the Jeopardy folks] found out about us," says Cernak, "but we were very excited about it."

What's more, the following weekend, a number of people from Pennsylvania and New York (the Yankees were in town) came into the crab house, saying they had heard about the place from the game show.

Sushi out, tapas in

Caterer Jerry Edwards is taking over the food side of Redwood Trust. The owner/chef of Chef's Expressions began making his mark at the hot Baltimore nightclub last week by dumping the Trust's sushi menu and introducing a small tapas menu.

The dishes are divided into categories - skewered, wrapped, shelled and sugar-coated. Each features three offerings.

Under skewered, you have a choice of chicken satay, seared scallops or grilled veggies ($7.95-$10.99). Wrapped items are duck spring rolls with a cherry demiglace ($9.95), lobster burritos with fried spinach ($14.95), and beef and blue cheese topped with a Vidalia compote ($8.99).

Shelled choices come served on baby clam shells. The selections are grilled shrimp dip and fried won-ton triangles ($11.95), crab toasts ($12.95) and clams casino ($12.95). Sugar-coated treats are delivered in gift boxes. Take your pick of chocolate-smothered strawberries ($1.95), berries with Grand Marnier, Chambord or Kahlua ($2.95), and truffles ($2.50).

Redwood Trust is at the corner of Redwood and Calvert streets. It's open from 6:30 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday.

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

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