Bring on the bagels.
That was the rallying cry last weekend when crowds lined the renovated Sam's Bagels in Roland Park.
Come Saturday morning, we dropped by for our usual multigrain with walnut-raisin cream cheese. The place was so jampacked that we couldn't even nab a seat at the snazzy new cappuccino and espresso bar. All those chipper families, all those groggy students, all that cream cheese.
We settled instead for a stool by the window facing an empty Coca-Cola refrigerator. It wasn't scenic, so we directed our gaze toward the new and larger bagel shop.
The eatery at 500 W. Coldspring Lane, which opened about a year ago, was celebrating its expansion into the vacant space next door. Partners Carol and Ann Gallant (they're sisters-in-law) have nearly doubled the room they have for bagels, muffins, croissants and customers.
In addition to being a favorite hangout for Roland Park types, Sam's also appears to be a meeting place for the Gallant family. The store was named for Carol's son Sam, a ninth grader at Boy's Latin. And Lou Gallant, 86, the patriarch of the clan, serves as the affable host on weekdays.
SAM'S SPINOFF: Meanwhile, we hear that former Sam's partner Julie Cahan has opened her own place in Federal Hill. Several weeks ago, Julie's Cafe, 915 Light St., made its debut where Federal Hill Interiors used to be. So far, chef Avis Johnson, formerly of the now-defunct Crazy Carrot, is winning fans with her turkey sandwich in a rolled flour tortilla and roasted potatoes with rosemary.
Those in the mood for waffles or cinnamon buns can drop by on Saturday or Sunday when the restaurant serves brunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
EUREKA II: It was a short stint for chef Tom O'Brien and his jazzy food at Eureka, Sutton Place Gourmet's cafe in Owings Mills.
Less than three months after opening, Eureka has undergone a dramatic change. It's now a self-service dining area with pizzas, salads, deli sandwiches and other treats available throughout the store.
Spokeswoman Katherine Smith says the change took place after many customers expressed disappointment that they couldn't get prepared dishes from the shop in the restaurant as well.
Tom O'Brien, the much-promoted chef there, has become the executive chef of Blue Point Grill, Sutton Place's white tablecloth restaurant in Virginia.
It'S NEVER TOO LATE TO CELEBRATE: That's the thinking behind the Manhattan Club, a new after-hours spot in Towson that's attracting hard-core night owls.
Frank Corbi, former owner of Corbi's restaurant in Little Italy, developed the idea after employees of Shock Trauma's night shift approached him about doing a 7 a.m. happy hour at Corbi's.
Although he sold the restaurant earlier this year, he decided to try opening a place with hours from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday at 8806 Orchard Tree Lane (behind Hersh's Orchard Inn).
There's plenty in the way of entertainment here -- a piano bar, dance floor, magicians, karaoke and pool tables. (We personally would need lots of amusement to stay awake at that hour.) He's left behind the Italian food, though, in favor of light fare like nachos, steamed shrimp and chicken wings. The nightspot, which doesn't have a liquor license, serves nonalcoholic drinks, cappuccino and espresso.
Although it's a private club (quarterly memberships are $20), Mr. Corbi says complimentary guest passes are available.
RESTAURANT RALLY: Why eat at just one restaurant when you can drop by eight? That's the theory behind today's benefit for the local Muscular Dystrophy Association. From noon to 8 p.m., trolleys will take guests around the city, pausing to sample shrimp salad at the Bay Cafe, chicken fettuccine at Nickel City Grill and tiramisu at Boccaccio. Before it's all over, guests will wind up at Bohager's for an auction and buffet.
Tickets are $35. For information, call Bohager's at (410) 563-7220.
Have news about local restaurants, chefs or clubs? Call (410) 332-6156 or write the Real Dish, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.