Familiar place gets new name, menu

TABLE TALK

October 19, 2005|By SLOANE BROWN | SLOANE BROWN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If you're up on the scuttlebutt, you know the restaurant at the Woman's Industrial Exchange is about to reopen. You know that the interior has been almost totally revamped. It's modern industrial now, with lots of light greens. The famous black and white checked floor is about the only original element that remains.

And that includes the name. When the new place opens, it will be known as Chef's Express. The title brings its own nostalgia with it for new owner Jerry Edwards. Jerry says that was the name of his first business, a little sandwich shop he opened in Towson 24 years ago. That shop has since closed, but Jerry Edwards' Chef's Expressions catering business is flourishing.

And now he's bringing his two dozen years of experience to open ... a sandwich shop. Actually, Chef's Express will offer much more than sandwiches, but it is geared to downtown Baltimore's lunch crowd, and for those "on the go." Inside the eatery, you'll find a few tables. But most of the space is taken up by three food stations: one for sandwiches, one for salads and one offering the chef's special. There will be a chef manning each station.

At the salad station, you'll have up to 24 choices of ingredients to create a salad of your own choosing. There'll be three different lettuces, along with things like snow peas, roasted plum tomatoes, grilled baby artichokes, bean salads and baby shrimp. There will also be seasonal salad items, like Aztec corn salad in the summer and broccoli salad in the winter. Prices will range from $5.95 to $9.95, depending on your choice of ingredients.

The sandwich station will offer your choice of breads or rolls (many of which will be baked on the premises daily). Jerry says there will be a hot hand-carved meat every day; prime rib, smoked turkey, pork loin or ham, for example. There will also be eight to 10 other meats and salads -- such as shrimp salad and tuna salad -- along with several veggies, cheeses and condiments you can select. Again, prices there will range from $5.95 to $9.95.

The chef's specials will be three different hot entrees every day. "Traditional retro food with a twist," Jerry says. For instance, there might be meatloaf. But it'll be wild-mushroom meatloaf with a roasted plum-tomato sauce. Other possibilities include seared tuna with wasabi cream on a spicy shrimp cracker, smoke duckling in red currant glace, beef brisket with Macintosh barbecue sauce, or Silver King corn, heirloom tomato and crab cakes. Those entrees will set you back from $6.95 to $12.95.

In addition, Chef's Express will offer prepared refrigerated items to go. That includes many of the daily specials, four-cheese lasagna, potpies and sushi from Kawasaki restaurant. There will also be a daily assortment of homemade desserts.

Not that all Industrial Exchange traditions have disappeared. Jerry says he will offer its classic chicken salad and tomato aspic in a pre-prepared platter. "I think we'll do without the deviled eggs," he says, "unless we get a huge demand for them." And Jerry says many of the chefs on hand will be women.

You'll find Chef's Express, 410-685-CHEF (2433), at 333 N. Charles St. Its hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tasty tidbits

Fall is bringing a cornucopia of fundraising food events to feed both body and soul. Take a look at what's coming up in just the next couple of weeks:

On Monday, a whole host of Baltimore area chefs will prepare courses for Uncorked!, a wine dinner benefiting Meals on Wheels and the Baltimore chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives. The evening will get under way at 6 p.m. at the American Visionary Art Museum. To order your $100 ticket, go online at baltimorenace.net.

We hear the $100 tickets are going fast for the Nov. 7 event benefiting the Baltimore Urban Debate League, "An Evening of Fine Dining and Civil Discourse" featuring a Greek meal, served family style, at the Black Olive restaurant. The evening will get under way at 6:30 p.m. Call 410-752-2835 to reserve tickets.

And here's something you can arrange to fit your own schedule. For the month of October, Let's Dish! -- where you choose what you want and the company supplies all the ingredients, then you cook it there to take home -- is offering a Pink Ribbon Stir Fry. All month, 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of that stir-fry will go to the Tyana Barre O'Brien Breast Cancer Foundation at Mercy Medical Center. Go online at letsdish.com for all the details and Let's Dish! locations.

If you have information regarding a local restaurant's opening, closing or major changes, please e-mail that information to sloane@sloanebrown.com or fax it to 410-675-3451.

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