Hell Point Seafood in Annapolis will close Monday through Wednesday… (Baltimore Sun photo by Tasha…)
This has been a rough winter for Annapolis restaurants. Morton's the Steakhouse abruptly shut its doors for good last week. Apparently even the servers didn't know until they showed up for work that day. This isn't unusual when a restaurant wants to maintain full staffing until closing for good.
I got in touch with company spokesman Roger Drake to ask why, although I was pretty sure what the answer would be.
"We made the very difficult decision to close the Annapolis restaurant," he said. "The company's decision reflects the impact the economic downturn has had on the Annapolis market."
He added that gift cards will be honored by Morton's in Baltimore and Washington.
Last month Jerry's Seafood, which had replaced the Metropolitan, closed. I talked to a manager, Aaron Gadson, at the Lanham location of the local chain, and he said it was because negotiations with the landlord broke down over the lease. The Web site says Jerry's, which had three restaurants, is looking for another Annapolis location.
I had heard that Hell Point Seafood, the Robert Kinkead place, might also be closing; but when I called, manager Jenna Hendrick told me that wasn't true. The restaurant has decided to be closed Monday through Wednesday until business picks up in the spring.
New bistro The popularity of pan-Asian cuisine continues, and the Baltimore area has seen a couple of new restaurants specializing in it recently. These aren't Asian fusion restaurants, but places that offer Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes. The latest is Jasmine Asian Bistro (2141 York Road, 410-252-5672), which opened recently in Timonium where JJ's Everyday Cafe was. When I asked manager John Phang why so many cuisines, he said, "We want to offer the best of the best."
If the name of the restaurant sounds familiar, this is the second Jasmine; the first is in Quarry Lake. The menus are also the same, with some new specials offered at the second Jasmine. What really makes it different, though, is that the new Jasmine Asian Bistro has two tatami rooms. These are traditional Japanese-style rooms for entertaining, appropriately decorated and set up so guests sit on the floor to eat.
The tatami rooms, which hold as many as eight diners, must be reserved in advance. You don't have to have eight people, but there is a $200 spending minimum for food and drink per table.
Hours for the restaurant are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Restaurant Week Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week starts a week from Friday, on Jan. 22. This winter it's actually two weeks, going until Feb. 7 and giving diners a chance to take advantage of the three-course, fixed-price dinner for three weekends. More than 90 restaurants are participating; you can find a list on the Web site at BaltimoreRestaurantWeek.com.
The bad news is there's quite a jump in price for the dinner menu, from $30.09 last year to $35.10. (Three-course lunches have been increased by only a penny to $20.10.)
Still, it's a chance to go to restaurants you might not otherwise try. Check out the menus online and make your choice or choices. Then get reservations right away. With the recession and the price increase, it might not be so hard to get tables this time, but you never know.
Making a difference I heard from Damon Hersh last week. He's the chef who made a name for himself at Louisiana in Fells Point. After working at several other local restaurants, he was last executive chef at Kali's Court and Mezze. I had wondered what he was doing when I found out recently he was no longer there.
It turns out that when his daughter was born this summer, he decided he needed a career change if he wanted to be a "present parent."
Hersh is now working as executive chef at Moveable Feast, the service that delivers meals to those with HIV/AIDS and other serious conditions. Last year, Hersh estimated, the charity provided more than half a million meals in the Baltimore and Eastern Shore areas.
The meals he prepared at the fine-dining restaurants he worked in, Hersh said, were a luxury. "The meals I make today help people live. I feel like I make a difference. It's a job satisfaction I never knew existed."
Salt's expansion Salt Tavern (2127 E. Pratt St., 410-276-5480) in Butchers Hill, home of the duck-fat fries (and other good things), has expanded its hours. It's now open Sunday evenings from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
New bagels Yes, it's winter and cold and dark; but how bad can it be when we have a new bagel place? Particularly when that bagel place is Towson Hot Bagels, which has opened a new store in Canton at 3301 Boston St. I just wish a branch would open in my neighborhood; these are some of my favorite bagels.
Deal of the Week Where:
Mount Washington Tavern, 5700 Newbury St., Mount Washington
The Deal: 30th Anniversary Dinner, $30 for two, shared appetizer, two entrees, two glasses of wine
When: Through Jan. 21