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Free Range

Dizz-y

The Dizz Grandview towers over the original location, but everything else is familiar

Photo: Sam Holden, License: N/A

Sam Holden


Dizz Grandview

3838 Roland Ave., (443) 869-3085

More at weekly.citypaper.com

It’s one hell of a view. From the windows 15 floors in the air at the Dizz Grandview, Baltimore at night is all black velvet and glittering lights, silver streams of traffic and familiar architectural silhouettes. It is vast, spectacular, even beautiful, and if you snag a table near these windows, the panorama will bewitch you and undoubtedly become the focal point of dinner conversation.

View aside, this new incarnation of the Dizz, just under two months old, has much in common with its beloved Remington sister restaurant. The menus at the two restaurants are nearly identical. Like the Remington Dizz, strings of multi-colored lights dangle from the ceiling at Grandview, and a dessert case boasting blowsy pies and stacked cakes still rotates quietly in one corner. And, yes, the indomitable Elaine Stevens works this dining room too, cracking wise to regulars and making sure new guests are having a good time. “You know, I’m the queen of lights,” she says, pointing to the ceiling and grinning in anticipation of decorating for Christmas.

The major difference between the two Dizzes, of course, is the location. And there’s a distinct atmosphere that results from being the in-house restaurant of the Grandview, a senior-living apartment building. Right away, you know it’s not the same Dizz when you’re greeted in the building’s lobby by the fabulously named Mrs. Woolwine, who sits to the right of a sign admonishing visitors not to socialize at the reception desk. Mrs. Woolwine points out Churchill, a life-size china bulldog just inside the vestibule, and directs you to two elevators wallpapered in dun-colored quilted pads. “Press r for ‘roof,’” she advises. You emerge into a violently purple alcove before entering what looks like it might have once been a rec room, but according to Stevens, has been a dedicated restaurant space at the Grandview for nearly 40 years. This is the Dizz, senior style.

In this incarnation, modesty reigns in a sky-blue dining room where a bar flanked by a mural of a city skyline at sunset runs along one long wall, and the bank of windows looks south to downtown just opposite (the far end of the dining room, walled in by glass and several steps up from the main floor, feels a little like a greenhouse). Tablecloths are patterned oilcloth; small candles and ketchup and mustard bottles serve as the de facto table decorations. Like the Remington Dizz, fancy it is not, and although the menu offers entrées such as pork chops, crab cakes, and a New York strip steak, everyone around us is eating casual.

The couple at the next table holds hands until a plate of chicken wings, fragrant with Old Bay, is placed before them; the ladies behind us dig into cream of crab soup and a burger. A server walks by with a bowl of translucent shrimp shells, and then walks by again, to reassure us that she hasn’t forgotten us and that our food will be coming out soon.

On this night, she explains, one of the cooks has left unexpectedly in the middle of the shift, so dinners arrive a good 40 minutes or so after a plate of nicely crisp (and not too greasy) Yuengling-battered shrimp ($7.95) and a bowl of miniscule steamed mussels ($10.95), the latter’s flavor deriving more from the onion and red pepper-spiked broth than from the shellfish themselves.

The kitchen doesn’t stint when it comes to the fish and chips ($13.95) though, offering fillets of cod both generous and sweet. Note to the french fry lover at your table: There’s no need to order your own plate because there are plenty of chips to share.

The Dizz also makes a fine Rueben ($7.95), thick with corned beef and some welcome zippy sauerkraut, though the cheesesteak ($7.50) could use a little more heft. And the hot platters simply demand a better, less commercial-tasting gravy, especially when the number of establishments where you can order a hot roast beef or hot meatloaf ($9.95) (which is quite nice despite the gravy) is dwindling.

Though BYOB at the time of my visit, the Dizz Grandview now has a liquor license, and will soon have a limited number of beers on tap.

Dinner at the Dizz Grandview inevitably raises questions of comparisons. Remington versus Hampden. Fireplace versus view. Gray ponytails versus gray perms (though you’ll likely find both at both locations, one of the sweetly democratic aspects of the Dizz establishments). The food, however, remains cheap, cheerful, and reliable, whether your feet are on the ground or high on a rooftop, reaching for the stars.

The Dizz Grandview serves lunch and dinner seven days a week and breakfast on the weekends.

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