Baltimoreans loved Tabrizi's, a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant, when it was located on South Charles Street in Federal Hill where Corks now is. Owner Michael Tabrizi sold it at the height of its success to his partner, got out of the food business and moved on to the dot.com industry. Tabrizi's closed in the '90s.
Now he's back in the kitchen, and it will be interesting to see if the new Tabrizi's will flourish at 500 Harborview Drive.
"The desire for cooking was always itching," he said. "I realized that a person must do what he can do best, and not work against his nature."
This location hasn't been kind to other eating places. Since it opened in 1990, it's been Pier 500 (and under that name it was a seafood restaurant, then a Southwestern restaurant then a new American restaurant); J. Leonard's Waterside, South Harbor Tavern, Catalina and, most recently, Lillies. But Tabrizi has the following to pull it off, if anyone does.
The restaurant opened quietly last week and had its grand opening Monday. Tabrizi, a native of Israel who studied cooking in Europe, has teamed up with Joshau Hill, whom he calls a "maverick young chef." (You wouldn't think that would be something a restaurant owner would admire.) The result is a Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and contemporary American menu.
The new Tabrizi's has an open kitchen, where you'll be able to see the chefs creating such specialties as seafood salad nicoise -- grilled rockfish, shrimp, string beans, tea-marbled egg and olives over greens with a herb vinaigrette; pan-seared, sesame-encrusted halibut served with a beurre blanc, wilted spinach and saffron couscous; grilled chicken kebabs with a Middle Eastern dry rub, served over wild rice with a herb demiglace; braised artichoke hearts stuffed with ground lamb, herbs, caramelized onions and pinenuts; and the classic gagi mish-mish, which was a signature dish at the old place -- grilled chicken breast with dried fruit and walnuts in a light cream sauce.
The decor, says Tabrizi, is "southern Mediterranean," with 110 seats inside (including the bar) and more tables on the patio. He stresses that inside is "casually elegant" but outside is simply casual.
Tabrizi's, in the Harborview development off Key Highway, is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Call 410-727-3663 or go to tabrizis.com.
Water, water everywhere --The new Westin Annapolis Hotel (100 Westgate Circle, 410-972-4300) has opened its main dining room and lounge, Azure, which now is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a water-themed restaurant, in keeping with its Annapolis location, with lots of seafood and lots of watery blues in its contemporary decor. The 68-seat dining room and 150-seat outside patio both have fireplaces.
The cuisine is American fusion -- a term I have to say doesn't tell us much these days -- and signature dishes include a lobster roll, lobster stir-fry, crab cakes, pesto chicken pappardelle and a Maker's Mark filet. Entrees are priced from $15 to $30.
Azure is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Later this fall the Westin is opening three more restaurants: a Morton's Steakhouse, a Carpaccio Italian Bistro and a Fado Irish Pub. (This is a big hotel.) And while there's Starbucks coffee available now in the hotel's lobby, a stand-alone Starbucks is coming in September.
Galaxy's end --The charming Sun, Moon & Stars Cafe (400 Red Brook Blvd., Owings Mills) has closed, one of eight new restaurants voted in 2004 by LIVE reviewer Karen Nitkin most likely to survive. Usually I don't get to find out why places are sold, but in this case I talked to Laura Dolid, the wife of owner Alan Dolid. She did much of the baking for the restaurant.
Her husband, she said, got an offer he couldn't refuse from Aramark to run the food service at Hood College -- a job with regular hours. She could go back to being a full-time ballet teacher instead of a full-time ballet teacher and baker. And they both can now visit their grown children who have moved to California.
Meanwhile, the new owners have turned the cafe into a place catering to the business park where it's located. The Day Cafe is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Goodbye again --Edward Kim, lately the chef of Saffron and before that of Soigne (where he was also an owner) and Ixia, is returning to D.C. He's taken a job as executive chef of the Beacon Bar and Grill in the Beacon Hotel on Dupont Circle.
Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at email@example.com or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.