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Eats and Drinks

Best New Restaurant

Chameleon Café

4341 Harford Road, (410) 254-2376,

Posted 9/18/2002

It's been a good year for us restaurant dilettantes who like to graze new pastures as often as possible. Red Maple upped the town's tapas ante with high style--carefully concocted small plates served in ultra-swank surroundings--and Soigné dressed up the South Baltimore bar scene with its oh-so-SoHo continental/pan-Asian fusion fare and stylishly simple décor. But this year's big shiny Best New Restaurant trophy goes to Lauraville's lovable little Chameleon Café. We love the brief but intelligent seasonal menu, changing often enough to keep us intrigued, and the fare that ranges from humbly heartwarming (the divine charcuterie plate) to inventive and even daring (grilled fresh fennel and mozzarella Napoleon, the perfect warm-weather supper). We love the perspicacious yet moderately priced wine list, the divine desserts, and the homey, welcoming dining room. We especially love the sight of earnest young cooks dashing around the open kitchen, clearly in love with their work, aka our dinner. But the clincher is Chameleon Café's reasonable prices and daring location: this place would be the instant darling of any trendy neighborhood (and Canton desperately needs a place like this), but owners Jeff and Brenda Wolf Smith staked their claim in unglamorous Lauraville. On such solidly stellar foundations is a neighborhood renaissance begun.

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Other Awards for Best New Restaurant:

Mekong Delta, 9/16/2009

Woodberry Kitchen, 9/17/2008

Rocket to Venus, 9/19/2007

Salt, 9/20/2006

Pazo, 9/21/2005

Soo’s Kimchee House, 9/22/2004

Kali's Court Mezze, 9/17/2003

Blue Agave Restaurante y Tequileria, 9/19/2001

The Bicycle, 9/13/2000

Atlantic, 9/15/1999

Holy Frijoles, 9/18/1996

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