Maybe the current popularity of tapas and small plates has nothing to do with the recession, but it feels that way. It was a trend that I thought was past its peak, but now there's been a resurgence.
I'm fascinated by the fact that the savvy restaurateurs involved with the Kali's Restaurant Group now have a second small plates restaurant just a block or two away from its popular Mezze tapas bar in Fells Point.
Tapas Adela (814 S. Broadway, 410-534-6262) opened recently where the Petticoat Tearoom was, next to the Admiral Fell Inn. Here you'll find traditional Spanish tapas, not the mix of cuisines other small plates restaurants in the area offer.
When I asked one of the business partners, Karen Patten, why Kali's decided to open another tapas restaurant, she told me that there's no overlap. Mezze has only Greek and Middle Eastern small plates. At one point ceviche was on Mezze's menu, but they decided it was too Spanish and took it off so it wouldn't compete.
The executive chef is Rashad Edwards, who oversees Kali's other three restaurants as well. The menu consists mostly of small plates ranging in price from $6 to $8, but you can also get paella for two ($20) and a whole suckling pig for four ($25). The wine list focuses on bottles from Spain and South America.
The rooms, designed by Rita St. Clair Associates, are Spanish-inspired. The dominant colors are deep red, black and white with dark woods. At you enter, there's a large bar with decorative tiles and a white marble communal table. The dining rooms feature wood tables and decorative wrought iron chandeliers and sconces. When the weather is better, the courtyard will open with outdoor seating.
I asked about Kali's opening another restaurant in a recession, and Patten said, "All our restaurants have been amazingly strong."
The Admiral Fell Inn, wanting to fill a space that's been empty too long, gave them a good deal. The location has the added benefit of a kitchen that backs onto the kitchen of another restaurant in the group, Meli.
Adela is open every day from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; the kitchen is open till 11 p.m.
More tapas Adela isn't Fells Point's only new tapas restaurant.
Sam's Kid (811 S. Broadway, 410-522-3663) opened a month ago where the Indian restaurant Mehek used to be. You probably can't guess what kind of food you'll get there from the name. (One reader on my blog suggested baby goat.)
Sam's kid turns out to be owner Andrea Rani, who named her pan-Asian small plate restaurant in remembrance of her father.
Rani is a native of Indonesia; her menu includes dishes from Korea and Japan. Prices range from $6 to $12. And, yes, Sam's Kid does have a liquor license.
The dining room is tiny, but light-filled and brightly decorated, with a purple couch being the room's dominant feature and a bar in back.
Sam's Kid is open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Wine Market expansion A reader wrote telling me that the Wine Market in Locust Point has a liquor board application posted to expand inside and out. When I called, I found out that the New American restaurant and wine shop is expanding into the space next door to create a room for private events, which will seat as many as 30 or 40 guests.
"This expansion will also allow us to make our kitchen bigger," owner Christopher Spann told me, "which my chefs are very much looking forward to. We are working with Chuck Patterson of SMG Architects on the expansion, as well as a redesign of the main dining space and bar. ... We are still coordinating the construction schedule, but the entire project will happen in a couple of phases so that we can avoid being closed for any significant length of time."
Closing of the Week I'm already sick of my Closing of the Week feature - it's too depressing - but I continue to hear about a new one, or more than one, every week. This week it seems that Robert Oliver Seafood near the Meyerhoff has closed for good.
Of course, I can't get ahold of anyone to find out if the closing is permanent or what will happen with the space, but the phone number has been disconnected and the Web site link is broken.
Dogwood's return In better news, it sounds as if Dogwood in Hampden might be reopening in December. That's what the restaurant's Web site now says. And I just got an e-mail from one of the owners, Bridget Sampson, who says the day is tentatively set for Dec. 15.
To streamline the operation, the restaurant will be open only for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The nonprofit culinary training program will move from the Woman's Industrial Exchange back to the restaurant.
Deal of the Week
Where: Chameleon Cafe, 4341 Harford Road, Lauraville
The Deal: Three-course menu with excellent choices for $30
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays