Vin gets set to open in Towson

TABLE TALK

May 10, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

This weekend has been long awaited by the dining-out crowd in and around Towson. It's the weekend the area gets its own hip, fine-dining, nonchain eatery with the name of Vin (pronounced "vine").

Vin, which will emphasize the pairing of food and wine, will grace the back corner of the old Hutzler building, courtesy of owner/executive chef Christopher Paternotte and general manager Darin Mislan with backup from the Cordish Co.

Paternotte says you'll be reminded of the wine part of the equation as soon as you walk into the bar - an enormous bar with a wood-laminate top in a "funky zebra pattern," complete with a stainless-steel state-of-the-art wine-preservation system. Paternotte says there will be 20 bottles of wine "on tap," plugged into a machine that pumps in nitrogen as wine is being pumped out. That blankets the surface of the wine, he says.

"That way we can keep a bottle open for 30 days, allowing a customer to enjoy a glass from a high-end bottle of wine without having to buy the [entire] bottle," says Paternotte.

Paternotte says, in addition to the seats along the bar, there are a handful of high-top tables and two levels of dining booths set along the opposite wall, upholstered in fire-engine red, which is used on all the seating in Vin.

If you're not into mixing with the bar crowd, there is a separate dining room. There's also a private dining room that can seat 18 to 20 people. Paternotte says Vin seats a total of about 175.

And then there's the outdoor bar, across Delaware Avenue from the main restaurant. Paternotte says that if you're out there waiting for a table inside, be forewarned: The liquor license requires that a server must be the one to carry your drink across the street to the restaurant.

As far as the food goes, Paternotte describes it as "high-end American comfort food with southern European influences." Not a surprise, considering both Paternotte and Mislan spent years at Kali's Court and Mezze. That eclectic combination is evident immediately on the appetizer menu - grilled calamari in olive oil, lemon, herbs and capers ($9) alongside cracker-encrusted bluepoint oysters with jalapeno remoulade ($8) and butter-roasted escargot with foraged mushrooms and herbs ($9) next to a cornmeal-battered lobster corn dog served with spicy house mustard ($11).

Entrees include roasted whole bronzini dressed with lemon and olive oil ($26), lobster thermidor (market price) and a hanger steak served with cheese mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus ($25).

There are also eight different baked flatbreads. Desserts are all $2 each, including chocolate ganache cake, melted apple crisp and a deep-fried banana topped with triple chocolate ice cream, sugared walnuts and whipped cream.

Vin also will be open for lunch, with items such as an egg-salad sandwich on brioche toast ($7; $8 if you want bacon on the top), a burger ($11) and a sliders plate of braised short ribs with tomato confit, rare tuna with petite salad and a burger with avocado ($11).

Although Vin's official address is 1 E. Joppa Road, Suite 155, the restaurant is actually in the back of the building, at Shealy and Delaware avenues. There is a parking lot there as well as free valet service for both lunch and dinner.

Vin, 410-337-0797, is scheduled to open to the public Friday. Its planned hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (with dinner service ending at 10 p.m.) seven days a week.

Brass Elephant lunch

You'll now find the hours at downtown's Brass Elephant have expanded to include lunch. Chef Christopher Lewis says he's offering a different menu then, geared to a much faster pace. Items include a large salad topped with grilled tuna or tenderloin, a calamari salad, fresh seafood and several pastas, including a macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. Prices range from $6 for an appetizer to $15 for the most expensive entree.

Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Brass Elephant, 410-547-8485, is at 924 N. Charles St.

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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