When I wrote my last Table Talk column in 1998, I never thought to quote the esteemed governor of California because I didn't think I'd be back. But here I am again.
Sloane Brown, who has done a great job reporting restaurant news, has moved on to expanded coverage of the local social scene for The Sun. I'm looking forward to writing Table Talk and coordinating it with a daily restaurant blog I'll be starting soon on baltimoresun.com. (Stay tuned for the exact date.)
Besides letting you know about restaurant openings, changes and closings, I'll have a place to respond to readers and make random comments that don't quite fit into my restaurant reviews, which appear in the Modern Life section on Sundays.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT STARBUCKS HAD TAKEN OVER THE WORLD ... --It's been a long time since I've heard so much buzz about a new coffeehouse. Local restaurateur Spike Gjerde and Nelson Carey, who owns the Grand Cru wine bar in Belvedere Square, have opened Artifact Coffee in the Clipper Mill complex (2010 Clipper Park Road, 410-464-8000).
Gjerde says he was so blown away by the espresso macchiato he had last year at the Blue Bottle Coffee Co. in San Francisco that he vowed to bring equally fabulous espresso to Baltimore. People who are passionate about their coffee will appreciate the fact that Artifact is focused on producing great espresso, coffee and tea to the exclusion of other things like lunch.
People like me, who enjoy a good cup of coffee but don't live or die for it, will be more interested in how the partners' restaurant next door, Woodberry Kitchen, is coming along. Gjerde says they plan to open this summer, but don't hold your breath.
The concept behind it is farm-to-table - using local, seasonal ingredients from small family farms. No - sigh - avocados or mangos. With luck, the partners will get approval for a wood-burning oven. As for the menu, it most likely will be regional, not global, cuisine, what Gjerde describes as "honest, direct cooking."
A BARBECUE PLACE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY ... --Olwen the Odd (I don't make these user names up) e-mailed me after my review of Milton's Grill (336 N. Charles St., 443-220-0180) appeared. He complained I hadn't mentioned that the place has wireless Internet. Shawn Peterson, an owner, confirmed it when I called. I love the fact you can work on your laptop while eating ribs there.
ANOTHER GOOD ONE GOES UNDER ... --Chef/owner Mark Schek has closed his Rooster Cafe in Howard County. That's a loss. The organic French restaurant was quirky but I had a 3 1/2 -star meal there when I reviewed it. He's looking for another location closer to Ellicott City, he said, "with more equitable rent."
ON THE MOVE ... --Sometime this month Minato, Mount Vernon's Japanese restaurant, is moving two blocks north to 1013 N. Charles St. (410-332-0332). Minato has been in its present location nearly 11 years; for six years before, it was CoChin, a Vietnamese restaurant with only one of the current partners involved. When I called to ask why it was moving, co-owner Han Quan said simply, "We are in the basement too long."
The new location will be on the ground level.
Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, Box 1377, Baltimore, MD 21278.