It seems the Baltimore area can't have too many Irish pubs. Claddagh, An Poitin Stil and Mick O'Shea's continue to pack 'em in year-round. Now, an addition to the clan is hoping to develop its own loyal following.
The James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant opened two weeks ago at 616 President St. While it may share the block with two upscale chain eateries -- Roy's of Hawaii and Fleming's Steakhouse -- the James Joyce is not part of a chain. It is, however, the second Irish pub opened by Jimmy Fagan and his wife, Carey, who live in Virginia. Their first pub is Ireland's Four Courts in Arlington.
Jimmy is a native of Ireland, but he isn't the only Irish import at the restaurant. Nine other members of the staff are from Ireland, and, according to Irishman and general manager David Cahill, almost the entire interior of the restaurant and bar was made in Ireland and shipped here.
Declan Sweeney, one of four managers working under Cahill's direction, points out that "Everything here is from Ireland but the light bulbs and the kitchen."
The restaurant is divided into small spaces known as "snugs" through the use of mahogany and stained-glass panels. The intent is to give diners a feeling of intimacy without claustrophobia.
You don't have to be an Irish-food fan to enjoy a meal at the James Joyce. Irish favorites such as shepherd's pie ($9.95) and corned beef and cabbage ($10.95) share the same menu page as crab cakes ($17.95) and seafood linguine ($12.95). There's also a variety of appetizers, salads, soups and sandwiches -- and even a kid's menu.
Cahill says he hopes to attract the tourist trade -- especially guests from the nearby Marriott hotels -- as well as develop a local client base. To kick-start the latter, the James Joyce is offering free parking at the parking lot across the street for the next couple of weeks.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. Reservations are accepted but not required.
A loss, a gain
Regular customers of the downtown Holy Frijoles are in mourning: The carryout closed last month.
Owner Geoffrey Danek says he opened the eatery at 420 N. Charles St. three years ago because plans to expand his full-service Hampden locale weren't working out. But the lunch-only business downtown was always spotty, he says. So when he got the chance recently to expand his original restaurant, he decided it was time to focus more attention on that business.
Plans to expand the Hampden Holy Frijoles from 908 W. 36th St. into 910 W. 36th St. are in the works. In addition, the restaurant just received a six-day liquor license. That means you can now order tequila drinks, beer and wine Monday through Saturday.
Danek says he's now using the North Charles Street kitchen for the catering side of the business.
"The hardest thing about [closing the doors] was that we had a lot of regular customers there," he says. "One customer came in at least three times a week, and she'd always get the black bean taco salad. It's been hard to leave those people."
New in Canton
A Canton nightspot has disappeared, but a new restaurant/bar has taken its place. The Grille opened Nov. 15 where Mara Maru used to be. Murals and light systems from the old club are still there, as well as scads of seafoam and black lacquer tables and chairs.
Along with standard pub fare, the menu offers a lasagna made from the recipe of owner David Dodson's mother-in-law ($13.50), burger sliders (bite-size hamburgers a la Little Tavern, $9.25 for six) and, in a bow to a chicken-and-waffle house special, a 6-ounce fried chicken breast on top of a waffle ($11.50).
The Grille is at 2324 Boston St. Dining-room hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, noon to 1 a.m. Saturday and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday. The bar is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week, with light fare served till 1 a.m.
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