We're still waiting for Baja 600's long-awaited redo. Maybe by the time the Plaza turns on its Christmas lights ...

Baja, Humbug 

We're still waiting for Baja 600's long-awaited redo. Maybe by the time the Plaza turns on its Christmas lights ...

Way back in January, when restaurateur Blair Hurst took over Baja 600 (600 Ward Parkway), the four-year-old Mexican restaurant already had an air of cansado, or weariness. After a promising opening in 2001, Baja did great business on its attractive outdoor patio, but when the weather cooled, the neighboring Mi Cocina (614 West 48th Street) had more sex appeal. That's one reason why Hurst announced that he planned to give the building a makeover and change the name and the culinary concept by the spring of 2005.

Well, spring has come and gone, the summer's winding down, and nothing much has happened at Baja 600. A friend and I stopped in for dinner last week and were escorted to a booth with a big, gaping tear in the leatherette upholstery.

"So when is this restaurant being changed to something else?" I asked our server. "And will you close down for renovations?"

"Well, it's going to be a place like the Capital Grille," she announced. "And we're not going to close down at all. They're going to do it in installments, like, a section at a time."

I rolled my eyes. Just what the Country Club Plaza needs, I thought -- another steakhouse.

But Hurst laughed when he heard the news from inside his dining room. "I've also heard rumors that I'm turning the space into a Chinese restaurant or Thai or a seafood place. The concept is going to be more of an eclectic American grill. And that doesn't mean steakhouse, but a variety of American contemporary dishes." One thing's for certain, though: The Mexican menu will be history.

Hurst has recently hired a new chef, Tom Miller, who has been commuting to the Restaurant Still Known As Baja 600 (Hurst won't say when he'll reveal its official new name) from Bloomington, Michigan. "He flies in and works all week while he's looking for a house," Hurst says. "The new concept will really revolve around Tom's skills and abilities."

That new concept is still under wraps, and Hurst isn't sure when the redecoration-by-installment will begin. He assures me, though, that the place will be getting new booths, a new color scheme and a "different interior flow."

Will everything be changed by Thanksgiving, which is one of the busiest tourist seasons for Plaza restaurants?

"I'm hoping we'll have a significant amount of change by then," Hurst says carefully.

And a new name? "I believe we will by then."

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