Some restaurants open more loudly than others. The opening in Towson of 7 West Bistro Grille (7 W. Chesapeake Ave., 410-337-9378, 7westbistro.com) has been one of the quietest I can remember - not that it's not doing well. One of the three 7 West partners, Boyko Tachov, says the Towson community has been responding very encouragingly to 7 West's concept, which I would call "the Nice Place": a moderately priced, locally owned, handsomely decorated restaurant that is as welcoming to families as it is to couples.
The other partners here include Elias Rizakos, who has a hand in the Windsor and Hazelwood inns and Spyros Spavrakas, who had a good long run at Harborplace with Taverna Athena and a shorter, but well-remembered stint in Fells Point with the more intimate Opa! What they saw in Towson was a Nice Place shortage. Their version of it includes, not surprisingly, a healthy Greek influence, but mostly on the appetizer end, with tapas-sized plates of octopus, dolmades, tzatziki, hummus and clams casino. The house specialty is a $14.95 grilled pork chop and the highest-priced item is a $24.95 grilled whole bronzini, or Mediterranean sea bass.
Tachov himself comes to 7 West from James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant , where he was part of the original crew that helped make what could have been a tourist trap work, unexpectedly, as a neighborhood bar. That's a good background to have when trying to make a go of it with a Nice Place. One encouraging sign - valet parking offered every night after 5 p.m.
Frederick Restaurant Week "Frederick began emerging as a dining scene even before Volt opened," says John Fieseler, executive director of the Tourism Council of Frederick County. Fieseler had for a while been running into folks from Howard County and beyond, who told him they were coming to Frederick just for dining, and Fredericktonians had been thinking about the idea of a restaurant week for years. The national exposure Volt gained just meant that the time to do it was now.
Seventeen restaurants are participating in the inaugural effort, co-presented by the tourism council and the Downtown Frederick Partnership, and the whole event sounds refreshingly coherent and doable. It may be more cosmopolitan these days, but in Frederick, a week is still seven days long (unlike recent Baltimore Restaurant Weeks). The promotion starts next Monday and ends the following Sunday, just as a week did when we were kids. The first outing features three-course lunches for $20.10 and dinners for $30.10.
There's also this nice innovation - most places are offering a two-course lunch option for $15.10.
Fieseler adds that "folks coming from Baltimore, if all they know of Frederick is what they see of it from I-70, are in for a pleasant surprise," hoping visitors will check out the city's retail scene and the recently completed Carroll Creek Park.
Even before the weather rabbit-punched Baltimore's Restaurant Week, you could sense some fatigue with it. A look at the Frederick participants' menus suggests that confining the inaugural outing to a single week has resulted in enthusiastic participation, with most places offering liberal choices and only a stray few going the way of "I hope you like lamb because that's what you're getting." You can check them out online at frederickrestaurantweek.com
Honey Pig Watch Mi Yung Kim's hotly anticipated Honey Pig Barbecue (aka Gooldaegee) in Ellicott City (10045 Baltimore National Pike) is so close to opening that it may have opened already. The original Annandale, Va., location is a big hit, as much for its late-night hours as for its food. Its fans have been wondering whether the new Honey Pig will work the same raucous vibe, but with no business phone listed for it, the most urgent question has become: Which food blogger will have news of a firm opening first and which one will be the first to report on a visit there?