New coffeehouses in Fells Point

TABLE TALK

January 31, 2007|By SLOANE BROWN

Chalk up two more haunts for Fells Point. Not places where you can grab your favorite brewski, but rather where you can find your favorite brew. Eclectic Cafe and Creperie and Smedly's are the latest additions to that neighborhood's growing number of coffeehouses.

Owners Susan Singer and Stephen Schulhoff opened Eclectic on the side of a similarly named store that sells international home decor, clothing and gifts. Singer says they wanted to have someplace where people could relax and get a little something to eat. The red tile floor and white walls give the eating area a casual, European country kind of feel.

The menu includes more than a half-dozen savory crepes, like ham, egg and cheddar ($6.95); chicken with creamy Dijon sauce ($6.95); and shrimp teriyaki with plum sauce, mandarin oranges and sesame seeds ($8.50). There are sweet crepes, including peanut butter and jelly ($4) and Nutella and fresh whipped cream ($4.75).

Of course, there's the coffee bar with the usual array of espresso drinks ($1.50 to $3.65).

Eclectic Cafe and Creperie, 410-563-2335, is at 723 S. Broadway. It's open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Head on over to the corner of Fleet and Wolfe streets for hangout No. 2, Smedly's. Owners Helena and Robert Williams have spent the past few months making over what was Frankie's Grill into what they hope is a comfy little haven.

One entire wall in Smedly's front room is a blackboard, where customers are encouraged to write or draw. That room also has two counters where you order and several tables. Helena Williams says there is also a small back room with a long, low couch and soft chairs, where about eight people could hang out. Bookshelves, games and a computer and printer add to its appeal.

The menu is ever changing, just like the blackboard it's written on. Williams says she studied at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, so she's giving her own creativity free rein. She says there always will be fresh homemade soups ($4 a cup) like ham and vegetable and white clam chowder.

Heartier items are offered in small-plate size. A recent list included pot roast with potatoes and carrots ($6); lentils, barley and brown rice with sour cream cucumbers ($5) and pasta with beef, mozzarella cheese and red-wine sauce ($5).

Smedly's, 410-563-7545, is at 600 S. Wolfe St. It's open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday. It's closed Tuesday and Wednesday. It's open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Rocket to Venus

Brian Carey, one of the owners of Rocket to Venus in Hampden, writes to say that they have decided to change the restaurant's smoking policy to no smoking from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with smoking permitted at the bar only from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Smoking will be allowed at the tables 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. The restaurant is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Lunch hours will return later this year, according to its Web site.

Restaurant week

As if you need an excuse to go out to eat, along comes "Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week." Next week from Monday through Friday, a host of local upscale eateries will offer three-course lunches for $20.07 and three-course dinners for $30.07.

Participating restaurants include Brasserie Tatin, the Prime Rib, Oceanaire Seafood Room, the Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boccaccio's, Da Mimmo, the Bicycle Bistro, Roy's and Fleming's. For a full list and more information, go to citypeek.com.

Sun restaurant critic Elizabeth Large contributed to this column. 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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