Celebrating Artscape's opening

HOT STUFF

July 28, 2005|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A couple of hundred lucky folks were most definitely up for an opening night at Artscape last weekend. Literally. They gathered on the top of the Meyerhoff garage for a party celebrating opening night. Not only did guests get a birds-eye view of the goings-on below on Mount Royal Avenue, but they also had their pick of several tables full of gourmet goodies. Cocktails - along with the occasional breeze - helped guests keep their cool.

Partygoers Jannette Witmyer, Maria Broom and Gwen Richards were in high spirits, as they grooved to the tunes floating up from Artscape's main stage.

For fellow guests Jordan Wertlieb and Barbara Anderson, the evening was a double celebration. Although it came with a certain bittersweetness. As of that afternoon, each had been promoted - Jordan to WBAL TV president and general manager, and Barbara to general sales manager. It followed an emotional goodbye to Jordan's predecessor, Bill Fine, who had left that day to take his new job as president and general manager of WBAL's sister station, WCVB, in Boston.

The new Charleston

In case you've swung by Charleston in the last couple of weeks and noticed the doors closed, come this Monday, you'll see them open again. Owners Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf shut down the restaurant right around July 4 to give it a $1.5 million renovation.

"Charleston is very personal to us," says Tony. "Eight, nine years ago, it looked the way we wanted it to. But Cindy and I both are in our 40s ... and we [now] wanted to make it look and feel like you're coming to a home."

Tony says the look that interior designer Patrick Sutton (who also designed their latest eating place, Pazo) went for was a warm deco feel, "but more plush." He says there are lots of brown tones, "from caramel to coffee bean," with touches of apricot, pomegranate and pale blue-gray. The bar area now has chocolate brown walls with a Venetian plaster finish ("It almost has the effect of melting chocolate"). There are now banquettes near the windows, which have been replaced with larger, mahogany French doors. Some of those doors will open onto an outdoor patio. Tony also says he and Cindy decided to reduce seating by 40 places so they could give more attention to their clients and their food.

Speaking of which, just as Tony has gone for a lighter feel with the interior, so has wife/co-owner/chef Cindy with the menu. There are no entrees, per se. Not that your favorite Charleston standard has disappeared. But it has gotten a tad smaller so that you can order it ... and a few other dishes you love. The menu is segmented into "Hot," "Cool," "The Season," "Fish & Shellfish," "Birds & Game," "Meats," "Cheese" and "Sweets." There are some 30 choices before you get to the last two categories. Not to worry. Charleston has not lost its Southern influence, whether it is Cindy's twist on a Southern dish, or just a sunny approach to her creative cookery. A few examples include heads-on gulf shrimp with andouille, tasso and grits, guinea fowl and foie gras terrine with green tomato chutney, confit of pork with Carolina gold rice and butter beans and bourbon reduction, or Kobe beef tenderloin with fava beans, fingerling potatoes and red wine reduction.

The pricing is set along how many courses you want. Three courses cost $64, four courses, $78, and five courses are $90. And Tony says each of those comes with your choice of dessert.

The new Charleston, 410-332-7373, officially opens to the public on Monday. You'll find it at 1000 Lancaster St. in Fells Point East. The lounge opens at 5 p.m. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Complementary valet parking is available.

P.S.

It seems there is a new after-work haunt for B-more's folks in the know: the new Capital Grille at 500 E. Pratt St. The bar has taken on the life (and faces) we used to see at the old Polo Grill-cum-Four West.

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