Every neighborhood needs something like the Pure Wine Cafe (8210 Main St., 410-480-5037, PureWineCafe.com). Now Ellicott City has one, in the space where Annabell's Fine Wine used to be. Pure Wine is part wine bar and part coffee house, a place to "meet your friends and have some small plates," as co-owner P. J. Strain put it.
Since I first wrote about the place at the beginning of the year, the concept has changed somewhat. Instead of a full menu, chef Kevin Brothers, formerly at Great Sage in Clarksville, offers a short selection of dishes that change weekly. The menu is divided into Small Plates, Flatbreads, Charcuterie and Cheese, and Trios. The first three are self-explanatory; the Trios are nibbles, such as three kinds of olives or hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds.
As for the Old and New World wine list, the cafe is focusing on artisanal choices and varietals people aren't familiar with. "We can get them cheaper," Strain said, and then pass the savings on to the customer. Wines by the glass, 14 whites and 13 reds, range from $5 to $10, with 24 whites and 25 reds by the bottle, priced mostly from $20 to $40.
Pure Wine Cafe is tiny, located in an 1890s building. To complement the stone walls and high ceiling, the owners have added a cherry wood bar and tables and brushed aluminum chairs. Behind the bar is a back-lit wall of wine bottles.
The dining room seats 35, 12 around the bar and the rest at small tables.
The wine bar is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, till 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and till 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Midday meals : Robert Banks feels that "lunch is the most dynamic meal of the day." I have a hard time going along with that sentiment when I think of the uninspired salads I pack for myself and eat at my desk every day, but I admire his enthusiasm.
This summer Banks will be opening a new cafe in the spot where Glasz Cafe in Lake Falls Village closed recently. Banks, who ran for Congress in Maryland's 1st District, has decided to start cooking for a living. He plans to offer breakfast and lunch, and perhaps Sunday brunch in the fall.
Banks described himself as an "avid customer" of the previous occupant of the space, but he felt seating was a problem, so the new cafe will have a quite different look, with vintage church pews and a sectional in the window.
As for the food, he'll be offering, along with other things, a Bay BLT (a BLT made with a crab cake), a gazpacho of the day, housemade waffles, both sweet and savory, and chicken salad.
Desserts will be a specialty, including a Southside pie (the Elkridge Club's take on a key lime pie) and a Krispy Kreme ice cream sandwich.
"Nothing will be deep fried," he promised. (Other than the Krispy Kreme, of course.) "The desserts will be made in house. I'm passionate about food, especially lunch."
Grille with a view : Many restaurants have come and gone in the coffee shop space of the Pier V Hotel in the Inner Harbor. I think I've reviewed them all, and they've been pretty good. I'm not sure why they haven't succeeded, because they have a great outdoor eating space in the deck overlooking the harbor.
Now Pizzazz Tuscan Grille, opening this summer, will give it a try. The food will be "contemporary Italian," with the emphasis on pastas, sandwiches, salads and brick-oven pizza.
The grill will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I'm looking forward to reviewing it because it's opening at the right time - when we can eat on that deck and enjoy the water view.
Veggie-friendly fare : I don't quite know what to make of this news. Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Frederick Keys' Harry Grove Stadium have made the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals' lists of the top vegetarian-friendly ballparks in the nation.
There's one PETA list for the majors (Camden Yards is No. 9) and another for the minor leagues (Frederick Keys is No. 4).
I guess the judges averted their eyes when faced with the massive consumption of burgers, hot dogs, ribs and crab cakes at the two parks.
Deal of the Week
The Deal: Happy Hour half-priced mojitos, $2 off Latino beers, wine specials, $5 tapas and ceviche
Where: Talara, the new Spanish tapas and ceviche bar, 615 President St., Harbor East
When: Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.