Robert Oliver Seafood set to open at old Spike & Charlie's location

TABLE TALK

November 29, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

The old Spike & Charlie's at Preston and Cathedral streets is getting new life ... with a little help from Charlie.

Charlie Gjerde - who owned the restaurant with his brother Spike - has moved into the restaurant-consulting field. In that vein, he's helping new owner Robert Alipanah set up his new eatery - Robert Oliver Seafood, named after a 19th-century Baltimore merchant - in the Gjerdes' old space. But, both Gjerde and Alipanah say you won't see much that reminds you of its previous life.

Gjerde says the space still has a contemporary feel, but it's gotten a bit hipper. The bar has been moved from the center of the main dining room to the side terrace room, with a bubbling water feature built along the back of the bar.

Alipanah says the main dining room has a series of booths and banquettes in sleek dark woods and neutrals, with hits of color. He says there is a bar in the room, but it's a dessert bar, with a cappuccino machine and several couches and chairs around it. So if you want to stop by after a concert for a sweet treat, you have the perfect place.

Alipanah says he also brought in a clay oven that's built on the side of the room, so diners can see their bread coming out of it fresh and brought to the table with three different spreads.

Gjerde raves about the incredible Bose sound system Alipanah has installed. Alipanah is quick to point out the grand piano, which will provide soothing dinner music. He says he wanted to create a restaurant where he himself would like to hang out.

Speaking of hanging out, in mid-December Alipanah plans to open the downstairs area as a lounge with a tapas menu. More on that when it happens.

Meanwhile, the dining-room menu does offer some mezze selections, such as roasted figs, slivered ham, walnuts, olive oil and pomegranate syrup ($6); grilled calamari salad with fennel, arugula, tomato and sesame ($8); miniature crab cakes ($9); and lamb meatballs with tomato sauce, pine nuts, dried cherries and yogurt ($7).

The soup section includes French onion ($7), seafood bisque ($8) and a soup of the day.

As the restaurant's name suggests, seafood is the specialty, with entrees like grilled swordfish with braised fennel, tomato jam and toasted couscous ($23); filet mignon of tuna with bacon, mashed potatoes and red-wine reduction ($27); and grilled shrimp served with orzo, feta, black olives, fennel and fresh thyme ($21).

Meat and poultry lovers, there's plenty for you, too. You'll find roasted lemon chicken with pine nuts, fattoush and Moroccan spiced carrots ($22); shepherd's pie, made with lamb, celery root, peppers, thyme and mashed potatoes ($19); and a filet of top sirloin ($23).

Robert Oliver Seafood, 410-528-5950, should be opening any day now. Its hours will be 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant also will offer valet parking.

Keep 'em happy

In case you hadn't heard, sour beef and dumplings are back at Cafe Hon on Monday nights. Owner Denise Whiting says she had taken the dish off the menu recently. But that didn't sit well with the dish's loyal fans, who apparently let Whiting know their displeasure with that decision. So sour beef and dumplings are back again. And all is right with the world.

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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