Riptide by the Bay (1718 Thames St., 410-732-3474), a casual seafood restaurant, opened a few weeks ago without fanfare in Fells Point. The owners, Meredith Zack, her fiance, Roger Rippel Jr., and his father, Roger Rippel Sr., have completely rehabbed the vacant building where a sailors' bar used to be.
The renovations include covered outdoor seating in the alley on the side for about 26 people and an attractive dining room and bar with a nautical theme. After a new sprinkler system is installed, the upstairs will be open as well.
The restaurant's signature dish is a crab cake club sandwich (interestingly, the crab cake is made with three grades of crab: colossal, jumbo lump and claw meat), but there are more ambitious dishes on the dinner menu, like a soft crab cioppino and pork osso buco with grilled polenta. The executive chef is Reinaldo Padilla, and his entrees run from $18 to $27.
Riptide by the Bay is open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday for food, and until midnight the other nights.
CHANGE IS GOOD? --Timothy Dean Bistro in Upper Fells Point is closed this week for renovations. When it reopens, which should be this Friday, it won't be a restaurant anymore. "Change is always good," chef/owner Dean said. The new name is T. D. Lounge; and while there will be food, it won't be the main draw anymore. The lounge will be open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday, with live jazz and an extensive drinks menu.
As for the food, Alysha Smith, who describes herself as the office manager, says T. D. Lounge will have a "new American-French 'recession-proof' menu," with nothing on it over $20. I asked her if Dean will be the one in the kitchen, and she said, "Yes, he'll be here for a while." That means, I think, that his focus will be on his new venture, another Timothy Dean Bistro that's supposed to open in September at National Harbor, a waterfront project in Prince George's County.
WHAT'S IN A NAME --It's still called the Gin Mill (2300 Boston St., 410-327-6455), but what was a sports bar reopened in May after extensive renovations and is now much more a restaurant and tavern. Co-owner Luke Reeder says the place has a new horseshoe-shaped granite bar, booth seating and bigger tables for the after-work crowd they are trying to attract.
There's a new emphasis on good but reasonably priced wines, and chef Matt Wertman has created a menu that Reeder describes as "lots of leafy things on there but also meat, chicken, shrimp and scallops" with new antipasto and cheese boards meant for sharing. Dinner entrees run from $14 to $18.
The Gin Mill serves food from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week, and until midnight on weekends.
SWEET AS HONEY --Meli in Fells Point started serving a limited breakfast and lunch menu in its patisserie last week, with items like croissants, quiche, parfaits and fruit salad. There's no table service, but you can eat your selections in the bar area. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Starting July 1, Meli, the third restaurant in the Kali's Restaurant Group, will be open for full breakfast and lunch service in its bistro.
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, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.