Ever the intrepid eater - uh, journalist - this Baltimore reporter "investigated" a few hot New York City eateries on a recent trip north. Though this column usually is limited to tidbits about Baltimore-area eateries, I thought it would be nice to share my experiences in the Big Apple.
I found that - along with getting fabulous food - an observant diner can get a helping of celebrity in many restaurants.
First night in town, I enjoyed grilled sardines and eggplant at Da Silvano, the Italian restaurant/Greenwich Village institution at Bleeker and Houston streets. What could go better with a little espresso than watching No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and actress Liv Tyler come in for dinner?
The next night, it was on to a much newer Village haunt - Washington Park - at 5th Avenue and 9th Street, for dinner with Colman Andrews, editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine.
As I savored one of the restaurant's signature dishes - free-range chicken with the most incredible french fries - I also took in the sights. The view included longtime rocker Boz Scaggs at the next table.
The best came on the last night. First, there was the stop-off in Tribeca at the hot-hot-hot new eatery 66. It's Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Chinese-themed place at 66 Leonard St. There, a friend pointed out rock-concert promoter Ron Delsener, who was with a few friends.
Next stop: over a few blocks to Nobu Next Door, at 105 Hudson St. Over the first course of new-style sashimi (petals of white fish arranged like a flower on the plate), conversation began with the three guys at the adjoining table. It really got flowing when the rock shrimp tempura with creamy, spicy sauce arrived, and our neighbors started showing us all the cool stuff their top-of-the-line Blackberry handhelds can do.
A heated discussion about commercialism vs. altruism began just about the time the Arctic char with crispy baby spinach came to the table.
The three guys? Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, DJ Lethal (aka Leor DiMant) and their manager, Peter Katsis. After thanking this reporter for the fun debate, they headed back to the studio to continue work on the coming album Bi-Polar.
Dining Out for Life
More than 80 Baltimore-area restaurants will participate in Dining Out for Life today. They'll donate a portion of their lunch and dinner profits to Moveable Feast, a charity that serves more than 750,000 meals a year to homebound HIV/AIDS patients in Maryland.
This is also your chance to contribute to a good cause and do a little celebrity-spotting yourself. Many of the participating restaurants will have an "ambassador" on hand - a local celeb or Moveable Feast supporter who'll be meeting and greeting diners. To find out which eateries are participating, call 410-327-3420 or visit www. diningoutforlife.com.
Make a choice
So what's the hottest new Maryland restaurant to open in the last two years? That's what the Restaurant Association of Maryland wants to know. It has selected nine finalists from more than 50 eateries and invites Marylanders to cast their vote on its Web site, www.maryland restaurants.com, by March 17.
Pick from Aida Bistro in Columbia, Eurasian Harbor in Baltimore, Roy's in Baltimore, the Tasting Room in Frederick, Yellow Fin in Edgewater, Chameleon Cafe in Baltimore, Jordan's Steakhouse in Ellicott City, Strawberry Bistro in Bowie and Tower Oaks Lodge in Rockville.
Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please e-mail Sloane Brown at email@example.com.