The charm of Hutzler's tea room survives in Hampden

TABLE TALK

February 20, 2003|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Going to the old Hutzler's tea room is one of Alice Ann Finnerty's favorite childhood memories. Both Hutzler's and its tea room are long gone, but Finnerty wanted her 16 grandchildren -- and other folks, as well -- to have a Hutzler's-like experience. So she and daughter Kathleen Finnerty Curtis are opening their own tea room in Hampden next Tuesday, aptly named Finnerteas.

The "back when" atmosphere should first hit you when you walk into the tea room. Finnerty Curtis says they wanted to make it "warm and fuzzy, like coming home." So they kept the mantel and refurbished the fireplace in the old rowhouse. The room's colors are fern green, burgundy and gold, and the tables have white cloths and napkins.

As for what you'll eat at those tables, you have a choice of the cream tea ($6), light tea($8), lunch tea($12) or afternoon tea ($15).

Cream tea consists of scones or muffins with a pot of tea. The light tea includes scones or muffins with clotted cream, preserves and assorted sweets such as petit fours, cookies, and mini tarts. Lunch tea is all of the previous, plus soup and a green or fruit salad ($12).

If you want to go full out, afternoon tea includes tea sandwiches -- with fillings such as watercress, cucumber, chicken salad and shrimp salad -- scones or muffins, tea breads, assorted savories, those aforementioned sweets and, naturally, that pot of tea ($15).

Speaking of the tea, Finnerteas offers 22 loose-tea varieties. And you get your own tea press, Finnerty Curtis says, so you can watch the tea steep.

So, how does the experience measure up for the younger Finnerty generation?

"My 2-year-old has already had her first cup of tea there -- herbal, of course -- and we passed with flying colors," says Finnerty Curtis.

You'll find Finnerteas Tea Room at 3547 Chestnut Ave., just three doors down from 36th Street. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

After La Tesso Tana

A restaurant some Baltimore Symphony Orchestra fans relied on for pre-concert meals is no longer. La Tesso Tana, at 58 W. Biddle St., closed its doors about a month ago. But, in about another month or so, those doors will open again, this time bearing the same name as the hostelry above it, Abacrombie Fine Food & Accommodations.

Abacrombie's owners, Sonny and Melanie Sweetman, are renovating the restaurant space. Melanie Sweetman says the new eatery will feature fine dining and regional American cuisine.

Sonny will be the chef. Both spent the last five years working at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla. More on them and their restaurant when it opens.

Russia on Broadway

Fells Point nightspot Max's on Broadway is going with the Vivat! St. Petersburg flow.

Joining in Baltimore's tribute to that Russian city's 300th birthday, Max's of Broadway has opened Max's of St. Petersburg next door, at 737 S. Broadway.

Maryland Institute College of Art students, led by senior Nicole Brown, helped transform the interior to a Russian theme.

The pub offers a Russian-only drink list, with 27 Russian microbrew beers and 18 varieties of Russian vodka, wine and champagne. The bar menu includes Russian specialties, such as pierogi, blintzes and borscht.

Max's of St. Petersburg will be around until mid-May. Owner Ron Furman says this is the start of a series of themes that will occupy that part of Max's, with the help of MICA students. Next up: a train theme, celebrating the 175th anniversary of the locomotive.

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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