Fin open for business in Fells Point

TABLE TALK

June 18, 2008|By Elizabeth Large

For a while it wasn't clear whether the basement of the Admiral Fell Inn in Fells Point, where most notably Cindy Wolf's Savannah once was, would ever be another restaurant. The last restaurant there, True, died a quiet death last fall, and since then the dining room has been used for private events.

But now Sherry Cohen, director of food and beverage for Admiral Fell Inn Catering, and her husband Avi, who is the chef, have opened Fin. Actually the full name is, oddly enough, Fin Steak & Seafood. Beef will be as important as the fin part of the menu. In fact, the house specialties are a European bistro cut steak, grilled calamari and grilled strawberry shortcake. (I'll report back on that last one when I've tried it.)

The food is traditional American with fusion touches. By that I mean, for instance, the roasted Atlantic salmon comes with Israeli couscous, asparagus and a Moroccan vinaigrette. Dinner entrees run from $15 for summer linguine to $35 for a New York strip steak.

The space has been renovated, but Cohen says the changes are mostly cosmetic. The fieldstone walls had to stay because of the building's history (it was built in 1770); but the dining room floor has been painted a glossy blue, there are bright blue accents throughout, and the tablecloths are black. The lounge near the entrance now has leather sofas.

Fin is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner only; the bar is open daily. In July, Fin Marketplace and Cafe will be launched in the space where a tearoom was. Breakfast and lunch will be served, and you'll be able to get gourmet to go there.

MORE FINS --Just to confuse things further, the Granite Bar and Grille (2903 O'Donnell St.) in Canton has become Fins. Phillip Rizas took over the place eight months ago, but has just now started to make changes. The exterior has been painted and the granite tables have been taken out. The menu and the staff are staying the same, says manager Lori Knavel.

Rizas was a partner when the space was Rick's Cafe Americain, and the food seems to be one thing that hasn't changed much through three incarnations. The new owner has simply added a few improvements, says Knavel, like more fresh fish and produce.

MORE CHANGES --People in Canton may have noticed that Cosmopolitan Bar & Grill has become Liberatore's Cosmopolitan Bar & Grill. The Liberatore family hasn't taken over the place; it's owned the Cosmopolitan since it opened in 2000.

"We added the Liberatore name to associate Cosmopolitan with the family and to celebrate a very special 20 years in business," says John Liberatore, an owner of the local Italian restaurant group. Inside, the Cosmopolitan has been remodeled with a new focus on dining upstairs. Some dishes that can be found at other Liberatore locations have been added to the menu.

AND STILL MORE CHANGES --For the first time, Donna's locations will be accepting reservations, on Saturday nights only. Many of them also will offer fixed-price chef's menus on Saturdays that are a bit more ambitious than the usual casual, Italian-accented dinners, says co-owner Alan Hirsch.

A recent chef's menu at Donna's at Cross Keys consisted of potato and leek pierogi with sage and creme fraiche; rockfish ceviche with honeydew melon, sweet potato and avocado; and bacon-wrapped veal tenderloin with gorgonzola mashed potatoes, pickled cherries, shiitake mushrooms and grilled asparagus for $38.

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, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.

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