It pays to be an eavesdropper when in line at the bank. This morning while standing in line at Bank of America on Roland Avenue, I heard a man say to the teller, “Here’s what’s going on downstairs,” as he handed her a take-out menu.
Downstairs at the historic Roland Park Shopping Center is the new Tony Foreman/Cindy Wolf restaurant whose name, a closely held secret for months, was revealed only as I walked to the side parking lot and saw a tasteful, unlighted (yes!) sign with a round logo and one word: Johnny’s. Heeeeere, at last, is Johnny’s!
And if the stylish citron, black and white take-out menu is any indication, the food (described as “California” by media rep Allison Parker-Abromitis) will also be a welcomed addition. Roasted pumpkin dip, BLT’s with avocado, hearty seasonal soups, hoisin BBQ pulled beef brisket, 11 different salads, fish and chips, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and many vegetarian snacks, soups and sandwiches will guarantee that my husband and I will be power-walking up Roland frequently. Ditto pancakes, veggie egg torta and house-made chicken sausage on the breakfast menu.
One item Parker-Abromitis thinks will be a hit: red velvet pancakes with caramel butter. Agreed! The menu lists Kiko Wilson as the executive chef .
Lindsay DiFabbio is the coffee auteur. I just may have to go back on caffeine and sample some of the unique coffees that will be offered in the restaurant and at the coffee bar. There’s also a stylish bar room and a wide selection of American wines at Johnny’s.
And the prices are reasonable: $7 for a short stack of pancakes complete with traditional syrup or more unusual toasted pine nuts and caramelized honey butter; $11.75 for a cheeseburger with a choice of fat fries, greens or Asian slaw; $19 for hoisin and smoked jalapeno pork chop with Asian slaw and buttermilk biscuits.As Foreman said when he met with the Roland Park Civic League over a year ago, his new restaurant is priced to welcome families.
It is hard to imagine that this large and welcoming space designed by Patrick Sutton was once the repair shop for trolleys that travelled Roland Avenue and turned around in this side area of the shopping center. It is also hard to imagine what the parking lot and Roland Avenue will look like once people all over town discover the latest Foreman-Wolf restaurant.
As I left, Foreman himself was on the lower level of the restaurant meeting with staff. That early and thorough training of staff in an era of frequent, slap-dash employee training is one thing that sets the Formean-Wolf restaurants apart and makes them so successful. It is always something I’ve noted at Petit Louis, at the other end of the Roland Park shopping center, and why so many familiar faces appear and reappear at the other Foreman-Wolf tables in town.
Here’s the press release for Johnny’s:
Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf are pleased to announce the opening of Johnny’s; the fifth restaurant for the Baltimore-based restaurateurs. Johnny’s will open to the public on Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
Johnny’s is intended to add to the quality-of-life in the Roland Park neighborhood, where the restaurant is located. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, the restaurant will feature West Coast cooking, a high-quality coffee program and coffee bar, a whiskey bar, and multiple dining spaces.
Dining spaces include: An airy, country-chic Café space with 25 ft ceilings, marble-topped coffee bar, a farm table and banquette seating; The Bar Room features a whiskey bar and the natural brick walls and pillars from the 1890s, as well as plush and colorful chesterfields and booths; the Kitchen Dining Room and the Back Room both feature low ceilings, which provides a cozy tone to the rooms, leather banquette seating, and many natural textures throughout which offers a nod to an industrial interior.
Foreman noted, “Cindy and I both live in the neighborhood and felt a strong need to expand with something entirely different. We both wanted to offer a new restaurant with broader meal services, honest cooking, and excellent and healthful to-go options.”
The kitchen will be serving west-coast-inspired food in an American format. The dishes will be accented with both Pan Asian and Mexican ingredients and traditions. Guests can expect to find dishes that are fresh, light, healthful, flavorful and satisfying.
“I’m excited to explore west coast food that is close to my heart,” said Kiko Wilson, executive chef. “My menu will shift with the seasons, keeping the ingredients fresh and interesting.”
The wine and beverage program is squarely focused on American products. There will be approximately 50 American wines by the glass. A selection of American and Mexican beers will be available, as well as a cocktails and punch menu. The Whiskey Menu will feature 17 selections.
The non-alcoholic beverage offerings will feature a serious coffee program lead by Lindsay DiFabbio, coffee auteur. Coffees will be made to order from single-origin coffees specially brewed in a Chemex brewer, providing a rich body and low acidity. Another unique part of the non-alcoholic offerings will be specialty glass-bottled sodas and single varietal grape juices. Guests can also expect to see a Smoothie of the Day, Bottle Soda Floats, and Milkshakes made with house-made ice creams.
Johnny’s is located at 4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21210, phone (410) 773-0777. Hours of Operation: Breakfast Monday-Friday, 7AM-11AM and on Saturday and Sunday from 7AM-3PM; Lunch service is 7 days a week from 11AM-3PM; Dinner service is available Sunday-Thursday 4PM-10PM and on Saturday and Sunday 4PM-11PM. Reservations are not required. A bike rack is available. Visit www.johnnysdownstairs.com to view the menu.
Tony Foreman and Chef Cindy Wolf, owners, Foreman Wolf, also own and operate Charleston, Petit Louis Bistro, Pazo, and Cinghiale. All are located in Baltimore.