Hookah lounge ready to take the place of cigar bars

HOT STUFF

Eats: dining reviews, Hot Stuff

July 15, 2004|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

One of the latest hot-spot trends is about to hit Baltimore. We're about to get our first hookah lounge. Yep, hookah lounges are all the rage in L.A. and Las Vegas these days.

So maybe the closest you've come to one of those Turkish water pipes is reading about it being used by the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland. But, according to Kris Golshan, if you liked the cigar bars of the 1990s, you're going to love the hookah lounge of the 2000s. And in Baltimore, that's the Zeeba Lounge, which Kris is opening soon in Federal Hill.

The hookah uses an Egyptian tobacco flavored with a variety of essences such as apple, berry or mango. The tobacco smoke is inhaled through a little hose. Kris says the process of using a hookah creates a more social atmosphere because people share the hookah, although each person has his or her own mouthpiece. Kris will supply hookahs and mouthpieces. The tobacco will run about $12 a serving.

And then there's the atmosphere of Zeeba itself. Kris says it's a small place, with seating for about 60 people on benches and suede-covered ottomans. Low tables, Persian rugs and deep reds and golds should further enhance the room. There will even be belly dancers some nights.

Food-wise, the menu will offer a selection of mahzeh, which, in Farsi, means little tastes. Stuffed grape leaves, lamb chops, kabobs, barbecued tenderloin and marinated chicken breast are in the $5-$10 range. On Friday and Saturday, there will be a late-night menu offering several sandwich choices, also in that price range. Zeeba won't serve liquor, although you are welcome to bring your own - with an exception.

Another distinction Zeeba will be claiming is that of an after-hours spot.

While the lounge will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday and Thursday, its hours are 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday. However, no alcohol will be allowed on the premises those two nights after 2 a.m.

Zeeba Lounge, at 916 Light St., should open late this month or early next month.

Kris, who is Persian, says he chose the Farsi word zeeba because it means "beautiful, like breathtaking" in more ways than one.

New microbrewery

Microbrew fans have a new reason to visit Fells Point. Du Claw Brewing Co., which has gained quite a following for its microbrews at its restaurants/pubs in Bel Air, Arundel Mills and Bowie Town Center, has just opened its fourth location at Thames and Bond streets.

Du Claw president Dave Benfield says the Fells Point spot seats about 200 people, and an additional 120 on the outside patio. It features an elliptical bar with a concrete top. A hardwood floor surrounds the bar, set into a stained concrete floor that stretches across the restaurant.

Above the bar, a steel-framed amber canopy looks like wings. French doors, steel and wood accents complete the clean, slightly edgy look.

On the menu, you've got your classic 10-ounce hamburger ($6.99) alongside tortilla-crusted chipotle and lime-marinated tilapia filets ($14.99). You can go for the Caesar salad ($6.99) or the strawberry salad on a bed of romaine, topped with grapes, blue cheese crumbles and poppy-seed vinaigrette ($7.29).

Du Claw offers six mainstay brews, as well as one seasonal. The current one is a German hefeweizen named 13 Degrees. Dave says one of the popular times at Du Claw is the official release, when they present a video about the particular beer with lots of "edgy humor."

You'll find the newest Du Claw Brewing Co., 410-563-3400, at 901 S. Bond St., open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.

To submit tips, ideas and possible items for Hot Stuff, send e-mail to sloane@sloanebrown.com or fax to 410-675-3451.

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