Two distinctive cuisines, one menu


July 26, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

If you're looking for a new adventure in dining, look no further than Locust Point. There's where Nasu Blanca has set up shop, just down the road from another popular upscale eatery, the Wine Market.

While the restaurant's theme is Japanese/Spanish cuisine, Nasu Blanca's origins are strictly homegrown. Owner/chef David Sherman, son of retired Danaher Corp. chief executive officer George Sherman, grew up here, as did his best friend and sous-chef, Christian Ciscle (whose father is former art gallery owner George Ciscle).

Rounding out the family feel to the place is chef Vanessa Sherman, David's wife, whom he met when both attended the Culinary Institute of America. After working in the San Francisco area the past few years, the group decided to return home and fulfill a dream of opening its own place here.

Japanese/Spanish may seem an odd combination of foods, but David Sherman explains it this way:

"They're my two favorite cuisines. They're not too different in preparation, but they are in presentation. Both [Spanish and Japanese dishes] are simple preparations and just let the ingredients speak for themselves. There are no heavy sauces masking the taste. ... This isn't necessarily a fusion cuisine. It's more like finding traditional Japanese and Spanish dishes alongside each other on the menu."

In fact, the appetizer section is divided into two parts. "Zensai" offers Asian items such as edemame with sea salt ($4); lobster tempura with Japanese mustard aioli ($13); and toro (tuna) tartare with wasabi caviar ($12). The "Tapas" segment includes crab-stuffed piquillo peppers ($13); steamed mussels with chorizo, shallots and saffron ($12); and rioja-braised short ribs with parsnip puree and crispy shallots ($11).

There's a little more of the fusion idea in some of the entree choices, such as yellowfin tuna with Yukon gold potato hash and butter ponzu ($25); Kobe beef filet with spicy tuna tempura and mustard miso ($35); and kurobuta pork with shiso spaetzle and wilted spinach ($25). There are also several paella choices ($20 to $36).

The interior of the restaurant is definitely a fusion of the two cultures. There are Japanese-style spare lines, like the rounded limestone bar top and tables, with ornate Spanish touches such as painted tile and a "Gaudi-esque" metal stair railing that connects the first and second floors.

Speaking of which, the first floor is more the bar/lounge area, which includes a large banquette where, Sherman says, he'll eventually host omakase (or chef's tasting) dinners. Upstairs is where you'll find the 50-seat dining room.

Nasu Blanca, 410-962-9890, is at 1036 E. Fort Ave. It's open 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Sherman says he hopes to expand those hours to include lunch in the not-too-distant future.

Sandwich chain

Meanwhile, the popular European-style sandwich restaurant chain Cosi has just opened its first two Baltimore-area eateries, in Owings Mills and downtown.

The Cosi at 9177 Reisterstown Road (in the Valley Village Plaza), 410-654-9182, is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

The other, at 100 S. Charles St., 410-545-0550, is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Both feature the signature stone hearth, creative hot and cold sandwiches, and salads.

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

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