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Good Taste: Café 921 at the Pikes
May 16, 2005 by Howard Blas

921 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore, Maryland Tel: (410) 580-1400; http://www.cafe921.com Open: Sun.-Thurs.: 11am - 9pm, Fri.: 11am- 1:30pm in winter; 11am-2:30pm in summer; Saturday: 1 hour after Shabbat; kosher

Baltimore natives fondly remember 921 Reisterstown Road as home of the 1930s-era Pikes movie theater. The Pikes closed long ago and an Italian restaurant on the site never took off. Cafe 921 at the Pikes, opened last July by Menashe Shabtai, former chef at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel and a 16-year Baltimorean, is the latest attempt to capitalize on the city’s collective nostalgia.

The huge menu at this enormous cafeteria-style restaurant claims that Cafe 921 “offers a unique selection of cuisine from around the world to the heart of Pikesville.” The culinary journey here can be somewhat confusing, but the array is vast and the low-key prices make it worthwhile.

Options and specialty stations include salad bar, sandwiches and wraps, “hot buffet specials,” brick-oven pizzas, soups and sushi prepared by two Japanese chefs. At the hot buffet line, Chef Shabtai dishes out food and advice. The tilapia, a white fish native to Israel and grown in the southern United States, was fresh and well- seasoned, accompanied by roasted potatoes and Spanish rice. The cheeseless onion calzone had sweet caramelized onions and went well with the celery-squash soup, one of the four soups in the “creamy” and “vegetable and bean non-dairy” category, which changes daily. We also tried the burekas (potato, feta, spinach) and the 10- and 12- inch brick-oven pizza, with assorted toppings. For dessert, there are smoothies, cappuccino and assorted cakes, including dual layer nougat, chocolate symphony, caramel nut or wildberry cheese cake.

After the myriad choices and decisions, check out the Simplex-XL Projector standing in the hallway. It’s a nice touch from the much simpler days when patrons waited in only one line and ate only popcorn and candy.
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