A new Thai restaurant for Easton

TABLE TALK

Annabel Lee comes to Baltimore

December 12, 2007

The news isn't as bleak for foodies as it might seem at first. True, owner/chef Andrew Evans is selling his highly acclaimed Inn at Easton. But he's also planning to open a high-concept Thai restaurant not far away in Easton in late January. He's naming it Thai Ki, and wants to bring a fine-dining sensibility to traditional Thai food.

Prices will be significantly lower than at the Inn at Easton, with nothing on the 20-item menu over $15. The restaurant will have a "green concept," he says, and will feature organic meats and fresh, local-when-possible vegetables. He's basing his concept, he says, on Momofuku in New York.

The Inn at Easton's dining room will close Jan. 1 for the winter season, but guests will be able to eat at the new Thai place for a discount once it opens. Evans' best-case scenario is to sell the inn but be retained as the dining room's executive chef while running his Thai restaurant. If it doesn't sell by April, he says, he'll reopen the dining room.

Quoth the raven --Kurt X. Bragunier, who was a general manager at Brewer's Art for seven years, has just opened Annabel Lee Tavern (601 S. Clinton St., 410-522-2929), a bar with a Poe theme and a comfort-food menu.

Right now, the food at this little place is limited, with 13 or so items offered, such as cream of crab soup, an applesauce-meatball sandwich and Caesar salad.

Bragunier says he plans to expand the offerings in the future. Meanwhile, the smoke-free tavern is open 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. six days a week; closed Sunday. It's back, sort of --Mamie's, a beloved Hampden hangout on the Avenue, lost its lease and closed at the end of 2005. There were plans that fell through to reopen in what had been the old Northern District Police Station. Most folks thought that was the end of it. But it turns out that owner Brenda Weber has quietly opened a new Mamie's in Aberdeen (939 Beards Hill Road, 410-273-8999). It's still serving meatloaf, homemade soups, shrimp salad, crab cakes and fresh fish. Entrees range from $9.95 to $24.95.

Gone for good --Xando, the coffeehouse and bar near the Johns Hopkins University, abruptly closed Dec. 2. Bill Koziel, chief financial officer of the parent company, Cosi, blames a "shift in demographics." In other words, a Starbucks opened a couple of blocks away on St. Paul Street, so when the time came, the company decided not to renew the lease.

Xando was in that spot for nine years, and it was the last of its name standing. The company is looking for another Baltimore location; but if it does reopen, says Koziel, it will be as a Cosi, not a Xando.

Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at elizabeth.large@baltsun.com or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.

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