Birthday parties enliven the social whirl

THE BALTIMORE SUN

And you thought January was the month to take a party breather. Who knew it would turn out to be birthday party central? The b-day party invites are coming fast and furious.

Among the highlights -- last weekend's bash at Curt Decker's Mount Vernon digs for Constellation Energy lobbyist hotshot Mary Dempsey.

"There were 50 for 50," says party co-host Leslie Shepard, referring to both the number of guests and the birthday itself (although Mary is living proof of the baby boomer's mantra: "Today's 50 is yesterday's 30.") Hosts Leslie, Curt and Rhea Feikin compiled the guest list from all aspects of Mary's life. There were friends from her old and new neighborhoods of Federal Hill and Roland Park, work colleagues from Constellation and Annapolis, girlfriends and good buddies.

Leslie notes the bash was "a great mix of people" and a great reflection of Mary. The party hosts also picked a handful of folks to toast the various aspects of the birthday gal. Former Polo Grill owners Gail and Lenny Kaplan reviewed her remarkable entertaining abilities; neighbors/architects Jamie Snead and Steve Ziger outlined her "good neighborliness"; a message was read from former colleague Clay Mitchell about her consummate professionalism; and girlfriend Michele Whelley told of their adventures in shopping.

Mary's reaction? "Turning 50 is not fun, but the affection everyone shared made it a very special event. It was very touching."

Meanwhile, out in the 'burbs, Girls Life publisher/editor Karen Bokram hosted a birthday soiree for her chum, Suzi Cordish. Small, warm and intimate. Hmmm, much like the lady herself!

Way in

It seems Pazo is the B-more hotspot these days. And not just for dinner. The newest addition to the Tony Foreman/Cindy Wolf eatery empire is finding its Fells Point chi-chi lounge mobbed most nights. All those comfy sofas and the citified atmosphere make any guest feel oh-so-chic. In fact, if you don't have a reservation on the weekend, good luck getting inside!

Speaking of in spots, remember when the Polo Grill -- and then its new incarnation Four West -- was hot-hot-hot? One of the folks who made it so was manager Lydia Fitzsimmons. For the nine years she spent at the Polo/Four West, Lydia knew who was who and how to keep everybody happy. After taking a break from the restaurant biz, Lydia is bringing her warmth and know-how to Kali's Court as its manager. Talk about icing on the cake!

By the way, Kali's and its sister restaurant, Mezze, will also be having several Sunday open houses next month and in March to benefit tsunami victims. Meanwhile, down at Pier Five, EurasianHarbor has also gotten some new talent, in the form of new chef Damon Morrison, who spent the past three years at Roy's of Hawaii just down the harbor apiece. Restaurant owner Steve DeCastro says Damon has added several items to the menu, including skewer appetizers, pizzas and noodle bowls. Steve says he has eliminated some dishes and spruced up others, giving them a little more "zing."

The EurasianHarbor menu now features low fat/low carb heart-healthy items, a feature Steve is applying to the menus in all his restaurants. Steve also says the restaurant itself has been updated a bit, with a sofa lounge in the bar, new music and new lighting, not to mention a new happy-hour menu.

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