Tapas restaurant at Harborplace

TABLE TALK

March 08, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

You know tapas dining has become part of the American mainstream when a restaurant that specializes in the small plates comes to Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

This weekend, La Tasca opens its doors at Harborplace's Pratt Street Pavilion, in a two-story space where a Tex-Mex eatery and barbecue restaurant had resided. It's the third U.S. addition for the United Kingdom-based chain. The other two La Tascas are in the District of Columbia and Arlington, Va.

Christopher Novashinski, the managing partner of the Baltimore location, says each floor has its own patio, bar and seating for 400, a mixture of tables and chairs and benches with cushions. The walls are a "rustic terra cotta," with accents of blues, greens and yellows, and plenty of Spanish mirrors and paintings to complete the Mediterranean feel. Each space also can be cordoned off for private parties. Novashinski says there will be candles on every table.

FOR THE RECORD - The opening of La Tasca, a tapas restaurant coming to the Inner Harbor, has been delayed. The Tabletalk column in today's Taste section incorrectly reports that the restaurant was scheduled to open this weekend. The restaurant owners announced their change in plans yesterday, after the section was printed.
The Sun regrets the error.

"It's an intimate dining experience with tapas," he said. "You share off the same plates. It's all about sharing. You order a few dishes and share them. You order some more."

The menu offers 35 different tapas, divided into several categories. Tapas From the Sea includes scallops sauteed with garlic, onions and peppers ($5.25); deep-fried squid, swordfish and shrimp ($5.95); and grilled salmon over a ragout of vegetables ($6.75).

Tapas From the Land has items like a selection of Spanish cured meats ($6.50), chicken croquettes ($5.45) and pork spare ribs in a tangy sauce ($7.95).

Tapas From the Field includes a traditional Spanish potato-and-onion omelet ($3.95), mushrooms sauteed in garlic and olive oil ($3.95) and goat cheese and tomato salad ($5.25).

Then there are six different paellas to choose from, including seafood paella with shrimp, squid, mussels and swordfish ($16.95 per person); meat paella with chicken and sausage ($13.95 per person); and vegetarian paella ($12.95 per person).

Desserts include traditional Spanish rice pudding ($3.95), Spanish flan with caramel sauce, raisins and pine nuts ($5.45) and dark-chocolate truffle served with vanilla-bean ice cream ($5.95).

For many folks, it wouldn't be fully Spanish without sangria. At La Tasca, Novashinski says, you've got 12 to choose from. There are also several Spanish sherries.

You'll find La Tasca, 410-209-2563, at 201 E. Pratt St., in the Pratt Street Pavilion. Its dining hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. every night, with a late-night menu.

Sunday brunch

He was one of the first Baltimore restaurateurs to bring tapas to the dining- out crowd with his restaurant Mezze. Now, Vasilios Keramidas has added a little something to the menu at his upscale eatery, Kali's Court - Sunday brunch.

"Baltimore needs a good brunch restaurant," Keramidas says.

The menu will change weekly, but a recent one offered appetizers like a two-tone mushroom bisque, smoked salmon and herb crepes, and seasonal fruit with house-made granola and honey-laced yogurt.

Entrees included bouillabaisse, crab cake Benedict, a French omelet and bronzini served with a crab-and-green-onion hash. Desserts included a lemon panna cotta with strawberry soup and mixed berries; cheese blintzes with raspberry sauce; ice cream and cookies; and a flourless chocolate cake served with peanut-butter-and-berry sauce.

The menu is structured so that you choose your meal by courses. Three courses cost $35. Four courses, which begin with a choice of lobster scrambled eggs, grilled oyster brulee, braised short ribs over hash browns or seared tuna gaufrettes, go for $45.

Or you can go all the way with a five-course brunch that includes the aforementioned four courses, along with a caviar-and-potato-blinis course, for $75. Sunday brunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You'll find Kali's Court, 410-276-4700, at 1606 Thames St. in Fells Point.

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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