The name is a little strange - a reader on my blog said it sounds like a place you'd tell your children to stay away from - but Mr. Rain's Fun House is a perfect fit for the not-so-ordinary American Visionary Art Museum. It's the restaurant that opened last week where Joy America Cafe once was, a space that was empty for more than three years.
Bill Buszinski and his wife Maria, the former chef/owners of the now-closed Sputnik Cafe in Crownsville, are running the restaurant, along with partner Perez Klebhan. In its first week, Mr. Rain's Fun House got good buzz for its American comfort food with influences from Asia, Africa, Latin America and India, and emphasis on local whenever possible. The menu will change seasonally.
Expect the unexpected, like a purple yam soup, a burger with Manchego cheese, or a flat iron steak with Korean spicing and rutabaga mash. Every day there's a list of Market Menu items, daily specials "sourced that day by the chef from the market," said Klebhan.
Dinner entrees range in price from $16 to $26, appetizers from $7 to $10.
Eventually the Fun House will be open through the afternoon, but right now hours are lunch from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. during the week. Friday and Saturday the Fun House stays open until 10 p.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant is closed Monday.
Freda's to Falls : Freda's Kitchen, the Mount Washington deli that opened with such promise just a year ago, has been sold by owner Martin Emmer, who, when I pressed him to tell me why he was leaving, simply said, "Time for new adventures."
The space at 1604 Kelly Ave. has been taken over by Michael Sproge, the former owner of Evergreen in Roland Park. When it reopens after renovations later this month, it will have a new name, the Falls, and a new concept. The Falls will be a coffee shop, cafe and bar.
"It will be a little different from what's around here," Sproge told me. "It will be a little more conversational." By which he means no TVs.
While he doesn't want to copy them, he's impressed by Grand Cru and 13.5% wine bars, he said, so expect some similarities. But the Falls will also be a place you can get a good cup of coffee and a fresh pastry in the morning, a salad or sandwich for lunch and eventually entrees for dinner.
"We're looking for someone [a chef] who's young and wants to show off," Sproge said, with "really good, fun food."
He and his partner, Tim Hofmann, have ripped out Freda's counter and gotten rid of the fluorescent lighting. They will be repainting and bringing in plants to "warm the place up."
The Falls will be open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Closing of the week : Orchard Landing in Towson is yet another in my now-weekly feature, Closing of the Week. The sign simply says "closed for renovations," but there have been no signs of life for awhile.
More is going on than just renovations: Its liquor license transfer to Mo's Fisherman Exchange Inc. was approved last month. Farhad Jafari, the general manger of Mo's downtown, confirmed that the restaurant group has bought the property and plans to open another seafood restaurant there, "hopefully in the spring."
Is it going to be another Mo's?
Jafari said he wasn't sure, but possibly it would be called Mo's Orchard Inn.
Shades of Hersh's Orchard Inn, the best-known of the restaurants that have been in that location.
Diner in the news : Woodberry Kitchen and Volt aren't the only restaurants around here that get national recognition.
Maybe it isn't exactly the same as being named one of America's best new restaurants by Bon Appetit, but Southern Living featured the Bel-Loc Diner as one of the South's best diners, praising it because with its "neon signs, chrome stools, and 'what'll you have, hon?' waitresses ... [it] still inspires old-school diner fans," and citing it as one of the inspirations for Barry Levinson's movie "Diner."
Deal of the Week
Where: Ciao Pizza Bistro Italiano, Quarry Lake at Greenspring, 2620 Quarry Lake Drive
The deal: Half off any entree with the purchase of a regular-priced entree
When: Daily from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.