Towson has had steak houses before. I'm thinking of JJ McBride's and Nichi Bei Kai. (Japanese steak houses count, don't they?) But for some reason, no one has opened what I think of as the Restaurant of the Decade: the upscale casual chain American steak house - big, bright and fairly affordable.
Now Towson has Stoney River Legendary Steaks (825 Dulaney Valley Road, 410-583-5250). It's in the new wing of Towson Town Center. If you like the ski lodge look - lots of stone, wood and glass, a beamed ceiling, a large stacked-stone fireplace at its center, leather seats - the 7,600-square-foot restaurant has it all. There's also a large red canoe, a Stoney River trademark.
The idea is that you're not only getting a steak, you're getting a sanctuary.
Dinner entrees range in price from $11.99 to $33.99. As you can tell, this isn't one of those super-expensive steak houses. The steaks aren't prime, of course, at those prices. They are described as "grain-fed, center-cut, premium Midwestern beef."
If beef isn't your thing, there are plenty of other choices, in spite of the restaurant's name, such as Szechuan-seared salmon, mountain trout, baby back ribs, sage-roasted chicken, and tempura-fried lobster tails.
All-American seems to be a theme here (with the exception of the Szechuan-seared salmon, of course). The wine list is American and affordable, with 27 wines by the glass.
Stoney River is open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Valet parking is available.
Southern fare : I talked recently to Matt Lasker, one of the owners of Langermann's, which is scheduled to open sometime this month in the Can Company in Canton, where Kiss Cafe used to be.
The executive chef will be Neal Langermann, who has worked in and run various kitchens in the Washington area, including Clyde's in Chevy Chase, Old Ebbitt Grill and Georgia Brown's. In 2001, he was named Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
Lasker says that Langermann's will be a Southern-inspired restaurant and have a "fresh kitchen." The menu will feature, but not be limited to, classic Southern fare such as shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes. Everything will be prepared on site in the restaurant's exhibition kitchen. Entrees will probably cost between $17 and $21. The 60-bottle wine list will mostly be priced under $50.
Langermann's will seat 90 in the dining room and 70 more in the bar.
Burritos closure : Today's Closing of the Week can't be blamed on the economy. The owners moved out of state and have had a tough time and a long commute keeping Burritos en Fuego in Fells Point open this long. Last Tuesday they closed for good.
They didn't own the building the inexpensive, popular Mexican place was located in, and because of what manager Joti Rodar called a "landlord situation," weren't able to sell the business.
"NOOOO!!! I loved that place. The spinach burritos were amazing. That really really stinks. I'm incredibly unhappy. Worst closing for me," said one commenter on my blog, Dining@Large.
Ducking the issue : One of the hottest dining topics around is whether restaurants should serve foie gras, as anyone who has followed the news of protests against it knows. If I mention those two words on my blog, hundreds of outraged comments follow. I was interested to see that Volt in Frederick has skirted the issue by putting "Hudson Valley duck liver, Seckel pears, pistachio, emerald crystal lettuce, and vanilla brioche ($19)" on its menu.
I haven't heard a word of complaint about it, except maybe the price. More restaurants should do that.
The Deal of the Week
Where:: Saute, 2844 Hudson St., Canton
The Deal: : 15 wings and a pitcher of Miller Lite for $20. Free oysters when the Ravens play
When:: Sundays and Monday nights during NFL games