Help out by eating out
Please eat out tonight. For that matter, eat out at lunch, too. But first pick up the phone, call (410) 366-LIFE and find out what restaurants are participating in Dining Out for Life today. They'll be contributing 20 percent of the day's receipts to the Moveable Feast, the nonprofit AIDS service organization.
Among new restaurants signing up this year are the Polo Grill, Hampton's, Brighton's, the Brass Elephant, Tio Pepe, Benny's, Morgan Millard, Leilani's, Cafe Troia and the Manor Inn. Altogether 73 eating places are taking part. Mt. Vernon Stable deserves special mention; it contributes 50 percent of its receipts.
Nickel City cashing in
Harborplace's Nickel City Grill is closing at the end of October, according to company spokespeople here and at corporate headquarters in Dallas. While it's not definite, Baltimore may be getting its first Cheesecake Factory -- an upscale chain with lots besides cheesecake -- in the vacated space.
Trendy mashed potatoes
They may sound like mom's home cooking, but garlic mashed potatoes are the hip new comfort food at Baltimore's restaurants. You'll find them on the menu at the Claddagh Pub, Due, the Polo Grill and Sfuzzi; you can carry them out from the Glasz Cafe. The best examples don't knock you over with garlic; you know they have pizazz, but you can't quite figure out why.
On track at Penn Station
Your commuter train leaves first thing in the morning, and you need a quick breakfast. Stop by the newly opened Classic to Go at Penn Station, an offshoot of Classic Catering People, for an egg and cheese croissant and a cafe au lait. Hours are 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The cafe's salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee drinks and specialties like rotisserie chicken with corn bread may finally make train station food respectable. The current location in the hallway is temporary; Classic to Go's spiffy new quarters where the old bar used to be should open by the end of the year.
A friend calls the Village Market Natural Grocer in Pikesville a "Sutton Place Gourmet for vegetarians" with good reason. Here you can get gourmet-to-go that includes tofu-based mock chicken salad, Southwestern black bean pie, vegetarian paella, gourmet hummus with red pepper, chocolate tofu cheese (less)cake and much more. Those who are changing their diets for health reasons take note, even if you aren't strictly vegetarian: The Village Market's recipes stress good taste as well as low fat and low salt.
Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, Table Talk, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.