Combalou moves beyond cheese


October 24, 2002|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Say cheese, and then some, at the newly reopened Combalou at 818 N. Calvert St. in Mount Vernon.

A month after it closed, the fromagerie is back in business with a new owner and a full kitchen. Which means it's not just a cheese cafe any more. New proprietor Harry Wolf has brought chef Ellie Cohen on board to turn Combalou into a full-service restaurant. With waiters and everything.

Cohen says the eatery has gone from serving just cheese plates, salads and light fare to offering gourmet prepared food, rotisserie items and "cheese-related food with a global flair." Cheese is present in almost every dish - if not in the main item, then in its accompaniment.

Appetizers include eggplant Napoleon ($6.95) and salmon cheesecake ($6.95). Dinner entrees include rotisserie chicken with Gorgonzola bread pudding and sauteed spinach ($12.95) and seared halibut with crab saute, accompanied by goat-cheese mashed potatoes ($13.95).

Gourmet sandwiches range from roasted vegetables with mozzarella and artichoke lemon pesto ($5.95) to a French onion steak sandwich - grilled tenderloin topped with caramelized onions and Gruyere, Swiss and mozzarella cheeses ($10.95).

Everything on Combalou's menu is available for takeout, as is the wide selection of specialty cheeses. The restaurant's hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

New Bayou

Come next week, the menu also expands at Bayou Cafe, in the Avenue at White Marsh. The change is one in a series that began about three months ago, when the owners brought in a new manager, Ray Mazzone, to help update the 5-year-old Bayou Blues Cafe. Since then, a new chef, Bill Calvert, was brought in, and the "Blues" part of the name was dropped.

"I was afraid the logo `hot food and cool jazz' was scaring people away," Mazzone says. "I didn't want them thinking every thing here had a Cajun bite to it."

Among the new items on the menu: a lemon thyme chicken breast sandwich ($6.99), a fried tomato sandwich ($6.99), French quarter Alfredo (jumbo lump crab meat, crawfish and shrimp over linguine, $18.99) and a 12-ounce New York strip ($17.99).

The cafe continues its program of live music six days a week, but it's not all blues or jazz every night.

On a sad note, Bayou Cafe's sister eatery, Bayou Blues Cafe in Fells Point, closed its doors in July.

"We tried to do the same music thing, and it just wasn't catching on down there," says managing partner Dr. Jack Gordon.

Bayou Cafe is at 8133 Honeygo Blvd. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. A brunch, with live jazz, takes place until 3 p.m. Sunday. The cafe's lounge area is open until 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Renamed Daily Grind

It's official. The Roland Park coffeehouse known as the Daily Grind is no more. Urban Grounds now stands in its place at 501 W. Cold Spring Lane.

The new moniker is the result of a name-the-restaurant contest, heralded in this column a few weeks back. Owner Larry Horwitz discarded suggestions such as Larry's Latte and Roland Perk and settled on the name proposed by one of his employees, Elaine Fick.

A new logo and sign should be in place within the next two months.

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