Friday, April 11, 2008

Eating Out and About

Mr Minx and I have been eating out quite a bit over the past few days. On Saturday, we went up to Bel Air to visit my Dad and shoot some pool. We usually bring food with us, but he said not to worry about it and we'd order pizza. Instead, we went to Wargo's Forest Hills Inn for pit beef sandwiches. Dad and I have always been fans of the stuff, well-done and preferably topped with lots of crunchy carbonized bits. A pit beef sandwich on rye with mayo, smothered in so much horseradish our eyes burned, was always a highlight of the Fells Point Festival.

Wargo's sandwich was a little dry and had none of the requested mayo or horseradish. It was also served on a weird buttery roll. We got some horseradish and used copious squirts from the bbq sauce bottle on the table, which helped a lot. We also had onion rings, which were the standard thick cut variety. They were nicely crispy, but otherwise ordinary.

Several hours and more than a few shots of orangecello later, I wasn't particularly hungry, but Dad wanted to go to Bertucci's for dinner. I haven't been to one of those in a good decade (and it has been a good decade, thank you) and wasn't impressed with it the last time. But there's not much in the way of non-chain food in Bel Air (and so many ugly McMansions with oddly placed sill-less windows, but I digress) and it's good to see Dad eating copiously again (cancer sucks) so I agreed. I ordered eggplant parmigiana, usually a disaster of sogginess in most restaurants, but I felt daring. The eggplant was roasted in the pizza oven and not breaded, thus avoiding the dreaded sog. The accompanying linguine was perfectly al dente. Color me surprised! The meatballs that came with Mr Minx's linguine tasted like real meat, rather than the gristle-textured once-frozen protein pucks that I anticipated. And everyone else at the table (Dad, his gf, MinxBro) seemed happy with their meals as well. Not that I'm going to start frequenting Bertucci's over, say, Sotto Sopra or Boccaccio, but it's good to know if I'm craving Italian and am too lazy to cook (that's pretty lazy), there's an option in Timonium.

We had to move our usual grocery shopping day from Tuesday to Monday this week, and a need for bulk paper towels and peanut butter led us to eating dinner at New Han Dynasty before heading to BJs. New Han Dynasty is a little Chinese restaurant in the shopping center at the hellish confluence of Joppa and Belair Roads, the one with the Weis Market. We've been going there every few months for the last 8 years or so, and the food is always consistently good. They're refurbishing the place at the moment and putting in a sushi bar, but for now the menu is the same as it ever was. They serve some of the best won ton soup around, although recently the won tons have seemed a little undercooked/too firm. Mr Minx felt pedestrian this time and went for their extremely garlicky chicken chow mein, and I chose the triple kung pao. Both came with a pretty decent eggroll and a fried shrimp, plus fried rice. (I prefer the plain white rice but forgot to ask for it.) It's a ton of food for about $10 each, and I'm wishing I brought some of my leftovers for lunch today....

Tuesday night, we took my brother-in-law out for his birthday. Yes, I know his birthday is in February, but this was the first opportunity we had. We chose an old favorite, Petit Louis. I was happy to see that, according to, their Tuesday plat du jour was skate, and knew in advance that would be my entrée, with the crispy eggplant Napoleon for a starter. The eggplant was delish - a crispy fried round topped a mound of un-breadcrumbed eggplant, tomatoes, goat's cheese, and olives, all in a puddle of pesto. The skate was also very good, lightly floured and sautéed with a caper brown butter sauce and a side of chopped haricots verts.

Mr Minx went for the chicken paillards with gaufrette potatoes (aka fancy potato chips) and a chopped frisée salad. He thought it was all a bit salty, and that was probably the citrus caper vinaigrette over everything. I thought it was well done, and was impressed at the frisée. I'm ordinarily not a fan of the stuff because its prickly texture annoys me, but chopped and lightly dressed it was quite delicious.

MinxBro started with the always capably-done French onion soup (as did Mr Minx), and followed it with the grilled salmon with braised leeks, bacon, and hollandaise. He seemed pleased, and what I tasted of it was very good. Why don't we have braised leeks as a side dish more often? They're delicious.

Finally, my BIL had the skate, but began his meal with the much more daring frog's legs. He wanted to try new things, and he enjoyed both dishes. (I didn't taste the frog's legs because having had them before I knew they'd have the texture of undercooked chicken legs and that's not pleasing to me.)

We washed everything down with a bottle of 2004 vintage Georges Faiveley white Burgundy which was crisp and aromatic and something I must try to find at the local booze emporium.

This coming weekend I'll be in NY, and of course that means I'll probably indulge in decadence...naughty me. :)

Petit Louis Bistro
Petit Louis on Urbanspoon

Wargo's Forest Hill Inn on Urbanspoon
New Han Dynasty Chinese Rstrnt on Urbanspoon