Folks at the Baltimore City firefighters awards ceremony at the Marriott Waterfront Sunday night, and those at the Ladder 49 premiere at the Senator weren't the only ones to get "up close and personal" with the Disney movie's stars this week. Seems some unsuspecting diners found themselves with thrilling company at a couple of local restaurants Sunday.
After the big awards ceremony that night, Ladder 49 actors John Travolta, Robert Patrick, Kevin Chapman and Billy Burke joined some of Baltimore's F.D. brass and their families for dinner in the Fleming's private dining room. Another diner tells us that at the end of the meal, Travolta stepped out of the private room for a "rest stop." He wasn't halfway across the main dining room when one guest stood up and addressed him, thanking him for making his movie in Baltimore and welcoming him back to town.
At that, everyone in the room stood up and applauded Travolta. Ever-gracious, the star returned from the men's room and proceeded to go to every occupied table in Fleming's to meet and greet fans.
Meanwhile, over in Little Italy, Ladder 49 director Jay Russell brought a party of about 12 for the family style meals he so enjoyed at Germano's Trattoria during the filming. Folks like Joaquin Phoenix, Balthazar Getty and Disney exec Brad Epstein feasted on carpaccio, crespelle (an Italian crepe filled with ricotta, spinach and bechamel sauce), bruschetta, three different kinds of ravioli, lamb shank with polenta and baccala (fresh cod sauteed with onions and tomato). Restaurant owner Germano Fabiani says Phoenix is a vegan, so he dined on lots of different bruschetta (toasted Italian bread slices topped with various vegetables or beans) and pasta with tomato sauce.
Have a Taste
If that doesn't have your mouth watering, maybe Baltimore's newest restaurant will. Taste officially opens tomorrow in Belvedere Square. Owner and chef Ann Nault (formerly a chef for Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch Resort) describes her eatery as both "hot" and "cool" -- with a "modern but warm" feel to both the look and -- ahem -- taste of the place.
Located in the old Hess building, there's one dining room upstairs, another dining room with the display kitchen below it, and a private dining room below that, with the old Hess boiler room doors used as part of the decor. The dining rooms seat 160, there's outside seating for 52, and the bar, complete with huge cushy ottomans and a big bench, will accommodate a few dozen more.
Taste's menu could also be described as modern but warm. Appetizers include Ann's signature house-cured tequila salmon gravlax with creme fraiche and garlic crostini ($9.25), ragout of wild mushrooms ($6.95) and shrimp sauteed with wine and prosciutto, served atop stone-milled grits ($9.95). There are entrees like chicken stuffed with prosciutto and provolone, dredged in crushed plantains, baked and drizzled with cilantro sauce ($16.95), rum-soaked rack of lamb ($26.95) and salmon marinated in miso and herbs and cooked on a cedar plank ($23.95).
Lunch items include Chef Ann's crab cakes, made with sauteed bell peppers and onions and topped with fruit salsa (market price), several sandwiches and wraps, like a burger ($8.95) or red chili and orange barbecue chicken on a Kaiser roll ($8.95), and a bunch of salads including a Greek style chicken salad ($9.95), crab louis salad (market price) and a tandoori shrimp and mango salad ($14.95).
You'll find Taste, 443-278-9001, at 510 E. Belvedere Ave. Its lunch hours are 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Dinner hours are 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are recommended. And there is valet parking Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
To submit tips, ideas and possible items for Hot Stuff, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or fax information to 410-675-3451.