Michael Mina

Michael Mina (courtesy Four Seasons, Baltimore Sun / September 8, 2011)

PABU, the second restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, is scheduled to open this week.

The dinner-only restaurant is the first collaboration between Michael Mina, whose San Francisco-based restaurant group also developed the concept for Wit & Wisdom, the Four Seasons' three-meal restaurant, and Ken Tominaga, owner and chef of Hana Japanese Restaurant in Sonoma County, Calif.

PABU is being described as a modern "izakaya," a term that translates, very loosely, as a drinking establishment that serves food. An izakaya boomlet in New York and San Francisco has generated the usual carping on message boards about what is and isn't an authentic izakaya. Some insist that a true izakaya really shouldn't be fancy or sophisticated.

The old-fashioned kind of izakaya still exists in Japan, but so do contemporary, upscale versions like PABU, where the decor combines rustic with sophisticated.

With PABU, Baltimore gets its first sake sommelier, Tiffany Dawn Soto, who will be managing a beverage list that includes more than 100 sakes, an ample wine and beer selection, and an Asian-inspired cocktail list. Whiskey — PABU's other big spirit — will be offered in varations on the traditional Japanese whiskey ceremony.

PABU will be open 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday).

PABU is at 725 Aliceanna St. in the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. For more information, call 410-223-1460 or go to fourseasons.com/baltimore

Changes for Chameleon The Chameleon Cafe on Harford Road has a new executive chef. It's Andrew Weinzirl, recently of the Wine Market in Locust Point.

Weinzirl takes over from the Chameleon's owner, Jeff Smith. Replacing Weinzirl as the Wine Market's executive chef is Wilbur Cox, formerly sous chef at B&O Brasserie.

Weinzirl's debut menu, which is up and running, signals a gentle change in programming at the popular restaurant. There are more small plates now, and diners are invited to make more casual drop-in visits. There is a newly designed nine-seat bar up front, near the open kitchen. The Chameleon debuted a Sunday brunch on May 6.

Weinzirl's menu is divided into Pantry, Farm, Sea, Beast and Charcuterie sections. From the Farm: breakfast radishes with leek butter and spring pea soup and crispy pig ear. From the Sea: oyster gratin with artichokes and Virginia ham and grilled soft-shell crabs with pea flan and bacon marmalade. In the Beast section: fried chicken thighs with cracklin' biscuit and cucumber-lime slaw and goat ricotta gnocchi with pig's head ragout, pea tendrils and Parmesan.

Cox's first menu at the Wine Market will debut the beginning of next month.

The big brunch day You still have time to plan a Mother's Day brunch. But you might not have to bother. According to a new survey, your mother might prefer to make the plans herself.

The survey, published by Open Table Inc., says that 65 percent of surveyed mothers intend to make Mother's Day reservations themselves. Fifty-eight percent of the Open Table members surveyed said they were planning to dine out for brunch on Mother's Day, but a surprising 39 percent said they were going out for dinner instead and about 25 percent said they'd be going out for more than one meal.

Around here, TEN TEN (1010 Fleet St., 410-244-6867, bagbys1010.com) and the Wine Market (921 E. Fort Ave., 410-244-6166, the-wine-market.com) are offering separate fixed-price Mother's Day menus for brunch and dinner. The Mother's Day menu at 13.5% Wine Bar (1117 W. 36th St., 410-889-1064, 13.5winebar.com) is available from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Prime Time Mother's Day menu at Sullivan's Steakhouse (1 E. Pratt St., 410-962-5503, sullivansteakhouse.com) is being served from noon to 10 p.m. Sotto Sopra (405 N Charles St., 410-625-0534, sottosopra.us) is inviting Mother's Day diners from noon to 9 p.m. The Rusty Scupper (402 Key Highway, 410-727-3678, selectrestaurants.com) is promoting both a brunch buffet and a special dinner menu, and The Prime Rib (1101 N Calvert St., 410-539-1804, theprimerib.com) is open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In other brunch news, the expansion of the Miss Shirley's (513 W. Cold Spring Lane, 410-889-5272, missshirleys.com) is complete. The new 50-seat dining room debuted over Easter weekend, according to a representative of the Crazy Man Restaurant Group, which operates the three Miss Shirley's restaurants, as well as S'ghetti Eddie's and the Roland Park Bagel Co. The expansion and renovation includes an expanded waiting area, a new staircase, additional restrooms and new flooring.

The new dining room can be used for private events, something that diners have been clamoring for, the spokeswoman said.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com


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