I always like hearing that a restaurant doesn't even have a freezer - that's how much the owners believe in fresh food - but I don't expect said restaurant to be a bar and grill. But Lures Bar and Grille (1397 Generals Highway, Crownsville, 410-923-1606, luresbarandgrille.com) is anything but a typical tavern.
Owner Chuck Soja spent 14 years working for a national chain before he and his wife, Jill, decided to open their own place. They took over the space that had been the Sputnik Cafe and "changed every single thing imaginable," says Chuck Soja.
Lures has a nice outdoor patio and an expanded bar, a new interior that includes booths and banquettes, and what Soja calls a "casual coastal atmosphere." There are 14 craft beers on tap and a wine list with good selections by the glass.
The kitchen turns out American food such as rockfish with citrus cream sauce and steaks, with some diversions like the sausage, sauerkraut and pierogi platter. The bison burger and the Kobe burger are also big hits.
Dinner entrees run from $14 to $22. Lures is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
BUENAS NOTICIAS: Here's some good news. The owner of one of the area's best Mexican restaurants, Mari Luna Mexican Grill in Pikesville, is opening a second, more upscale restaurant quite nearby at 1010 Reisterstown Road, next to Jilly's.
Mari Luna Latin Grill will be twice the size of its sibling, with a deck on the roof and a private dining room in back. The menu will have more variety than the original Mari Luna's, with South American, Central American and Caribbean dishes featured.
There have been a few minor setbacks during the construction, says manager Edgar Romero (gee, that's a surprise); so the target opening date has been pushed back to late August or early September. But it could be earlier than that, he says optimistically.
REVOLVING CHEFS: It's an ill wind - well, you know the rest. When Nasu Blanca in Locust Point closed, one of its chefs moved a few doors down to Luca's Cafe, which had recently lost its chef.
Christian Ciscle will be rewriting the menu in the months to come, but right now he's added more whole fish to the specials list, with fresh sauces made from tropical fruit, such as papaya. He's also changed the sangria recipe (a good move) and added new desserts - not that the banana bread pudding with chocolate sauce could be improved on.
THE DIZZ TO REOPEN: Fans of Dizzy Issie's in Remington have been worried about their favorite bar, whose future seemed somewhat uncertain, given that it's been closed for much of the summer. Dizzy Issie's has been sold, I learned from the liquor board. The new owners are Darlene Basta and Angela Kelly.
The bar is scheduled to reopen Aug. 4.
Check out restaurant critic Elizabeth Large's daily blog ( baltimoresun.com/diningatlarge) for restaurant news and notes and reader feedback. Don't miss Top 10 Tuesdays.