Forget froufrou food. We Baltimoreans must love plain ole meat and potatoes because steakhouses continue to pop up all over town. In the next few days, two more arrive.
Tomorrow, the third Ruth's Chris Steak House opens in the Baltimore area. And it's a mere three blocks from Ruth's Chris No. 1, on Water Street, also owned by local restaurant magnate Steve De Castro. Ruth's Chris Steak House Pier V has taken the space previously occupied by De Castro's old Eurasian Harbor.
"Eurasian Harbor did great on weekends, but we weren't as strong there during the week," Steve says. "And we were turning them away at the Ruth's Chris Water Street location."
Another reason for Ruth's Chris-times-two? Steve says most of the business at the original locale was local. He expects the higher visibility at the Pier V location to bring in more tourists.
Steve says there are a few differences in the two. The new Ruth's Chris is smaller - 150 seats vs. 300 at Water Street. And the decor is more contemporary (as was Eurasian Harbor). Steve says it also is one of only two Ruth's Chris Steak Houses nationwide to feature an exhibition kitchen - another leftover from the Eurasian days.
For those who mourn the loss of their favorite Eurasian dishes, Steve says some of them still will be offered as specials. And he's transferred some others to his two other Water Street restaurants. You'll find Eurasian's sushi and whole-fish items at Blue Sea Grill, and the ribs and duck creations at Babalu Grill.
Ruth's Chris Steak House Pier V, 410-230-0033, is at 711 Eastern Ave. Its hours are 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. The bar will open every day at 4 p.m. In about three weeks, the restaurant will open for lunch and Sunday brunch, as well.
The other new steakhouse about to debut, the Capital Grille, opens its doors a couple of blocks away on Monday. The East Pratt Street restaurant seats 230 and offers four private dining rooms. You'll find appetizers like prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella with tomatoes ($13.95), lobster and crab cakes ($14.95) and the Grille's steak tartare ($12.95). Salads include a Caesar ($6.95), spinach salad with warm bacon dressing ($6.95) and your classic steakhouse "must-have" - the wedge, with bleu cheese and crumbled bacon ($6.95).
Among the steak offerings are dry aged sirloin (14 ounces, $32.95, or 20 ounces, $35.95), filet mignon (10 ounces, $30.95, 14 ounces, $33.95) and steak au poivre with Courvoisier cream sauce (14 ounces, $33.95, 20 ounces, $36.95). You'll also find a veal chop with Roquefort butter sauce ($32.95), fresh seared salmon with two-mustard sauce ($25.95) and roast chicken ($18.95). In true steakhouse fashion, side dishes - such as cottage fries and onion strings, baked potato, fresh asparagus and creamed spinach - are extra, with prices ranging from $5.95 to $8.95.
The Capital Grille, 443-703-4064, is at 500 E. Pratt St. Dinner hours will be 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
On opening day, the Capital Grille will be open only for dinner, but weekday lunch hours begin Tuesday. Those hours will be 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Big do at the zoo
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore was hot, hot, hot last Friday night. The weather was hot and sticky. But Zoomerang! chairs Greg and Lisa Barnhill and zoo president Billie Grieb kept their cool as they greeted the hundreds of guests.
And, wasn't it nice that everybody was misted down as they entered the first party tent?
Not only were there scads of B-more restaurants, caterers and liquor companies offering all sorts of things to eat and imbibe, but the eyes and ears were treated to a feast, too. Zoo personnel were stationed along the way holding different animals: those humongo lop-eared rabbits, falcons, a parrot and a baby skunk. One real crowd-pleaser was the little Chinese alligator. Even at 5 years old, he was small enough to comfortably sprawl along his keeper's arm.
"They grow very slowly," she explained, as she scratched his head, causing him to close his eyes, and open his mouth in an expression of complete pleasure. Who knew gators could be so warm and ... fuzzy?
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