Walters gala is swanky and French

HOT STUFF

Eats: Dining Reviews/Hot Stuff

October 28, 2004|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There was a full house -- er, full tent -- at the Walters Art Museum Gala recently. That's the tent the museum always sets up in the middle of Mount Vernon Square for the swanky sit-down dinner and dancing.

This year, the party's theme was "Merci Beaucoup," and giving a big thank you was exactly what chairs Millicent and Peter Bain and Walters head honcho Gary Vikan were doing as they greeted guests that evening. The French theme was inspired by the Walters' fall exhibition, The Road to Impressionism: Landscapes From Corot to Monet. And lest one forgot, there were all sorts of delicious reminders -- hors d'oeuvres such as brie en croute and escargot and dinner that included filet mignon bordelaise with haricots verts. C'est magnifique!

Studio 54 at the Hippo

It was a real blast from the past at the Hippo last weekend as Moveable Feast threw its annual bash. This year, the theme was Studio 54 with polyester and glitter galore! Bartender Frank Axell stood out head-and-shoulders above the crowd, thanks not just to his height, but also to his humongo Afro wig, which he doffed occasionally to reveal his naturally shiny pate. Meanwhile, fellow barkeep Jason Aueberth proved a real crowd-pleaser with his Washington apple martinis.

And lest we forget the '00s don't have first claim on "bling-bling" ... plenty of guests brought back a classic '70s look -- that open-to-the-navel shirt revealing a whole heap of gold chains.

Remember the ABBA song "Dancing Queen"? It came to life big time on the Hippo's dance floor. However, Moveable Feast board member Dianna Morgan and hubby Steve garnered much of the attention with their outta sight '70s moves.

A Pearl for Canton

There's a new pearl of a place in Canton. It's a brand new restaurant just this side of gussied up. We're talkin' tablecloths and all! Canton's Pearls opened last week in the Canton Crossing area, at Boston Street and Keith Avenue. Co-owner Eric Hamilton says he and his partners saw a need in Canton for a place that was "fairly upscale."

They've gone for a sophisticated, modern atmosphere. Lots of cherry wood and banquette seating. There's a large open ceiling with about 50 light bulbs of different sizes dangling from it. Pearls. Get it? In fact, you'll see that pearl theme repeated several places in the restaurant. Check out the carpet and the chairs.

Speaking of chairs, Canton's Pearls seats about 150 inside, and 48 outside in nice weather. The granite inlaid cherry bar seats another 19.

The menu offers about a dozen small plates, such as semolina-dusted oysters on crispy pancetta and wilted spinach ($7), braised short ribs with poblano salsa ($7) and polenta fries with grilled vegetables ($6). Entrees include: chili-rubbed grilled beef tenderloin served with Manchego polenta ($29), broiled crab cakes with corn pudding with mustard seed and cornichon tartare ($24) and ginger and arugula-rolled salmon with saffron basmati rice phyllo cake and citrus sauce ($20).

Eric says he and his partners hope to attract a lot of Canton professionals, when they're not in the mood to go to a Canton Square bar.

"Anyone who belongs to Merritt Athletic Club [next door] would want to eat here," he says.

Canton's Pearls, 410-276-8900, is at 3301 Boston St., Suite 102. It opens at 11 a.m. and offers food service until 10 p.m. seven days a week. The bar may stay open later, depending on how busy it is.

Oh. In addition to the nicer digs and tablecloths, Canton's Pearls also has something most other Canton spots can't offer. Lots and lots of parking.

Da Mimmo's celebs

A couple of celebs have recently popped in to Da Mimmo's in Little Italy. Owner Mary Ann Cricchio says old friend Frankie Avalon dropped by for dinner after performing in Grease on Saturday night.

Another old chum, Frank Sinatra Jr., did the same a couple of weeks ago, when he was in town performing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. And talk about your deja vu.

"He said, `It's late. So I'll just have something light. How about linguine with white clam sauce?'" Mary Ann says. "Little did he know that's exactly what my late husband Chef Mimmo used to serve his dad 20 years ago!"

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

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